Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Chewing is an important part of your puppies development and allows your puppy to relieve pressure on their gums as new teeth begin to form.
Priority 1: Puppy Proof Your Home!
A puppies desire to investigate every square inch of your home is actually essential for them to become acclimatised to their new world as quickly as possible. Puppy proofing your home and taking precautions will help keep them safe, as well as safeguard your furniture.
Don’t leave food, valuables or anything you wouldn’t want your puppy to have laying around. Especially make sure ponds and any poisonous plants (daffodil bulbs, certain types of lilies) fertilisers and weed/pest killers are not accessible in your garden. Tidy away electricity cables and restrict them to a safe area, playpen or crate when unsupervised.
Go Toy Crazy
A good variety of toys are an absolute must for puppies in order to help them with exploration, teething and also in relationship building with you. Puppy chewing is natural and necessary, the challenge we have is to ensure they are chewing the right target, and if not - then diverting them to the appropriate item... usually a toy. Interactive toys like K9 Connectables and Kongs are great as you can keep them interesting by stuffing them with a different food item each time (cream cheese, dog safe peanut butter and pates etc). Tugger toys also work well - slowly move them across the floor to engage the puppy interactively. Whatever you choose, you should offer them a range of textures, such as fluffy, rubber and firm, as well as a wide variety of shapes and a broad spectrum of colours to keep them interested. It is a good idea to keep toys on rotation, be inventive and have at least two or three items for each day of the week. You can then give your puppy a variety of chew toys each day, putting them away at the end of the day and giving a selection of different ones the next. This way it will be a week before your puppy sees the first chew toys again, raising interest and excitement upon their return. Interactive toys and slow feeders provide particularly good enrichment, which help to improve mental and physical skills such as problem solving.
Tasty Natural Chews
Build up a good store and variety of chews. A good chew can help puppy relax as well as offering a mutually beneficial alternative to your shoes and furniture! Appropriate chews include:
Softer textures, such as fluffy, fleecy and rope toys.
Split/easy antlers are ideal for younger dogs
Pizzle sticks and other age appropriate natural treats.
Avoid rawhide at all costs, it is highly processed and can cause many problems.
NOTE: Always supervise your puppy whilst they have any of the above.
Stealing is hugely rewarding for puppies because suddenly, it turns everyone’s attention towards them. Ignore them if possible and instead encourage your puppy to swap an item for one of their toys and reward them for getting it right. Do not chase your puppy or punish it, this will simply cause them to mistrust you. There are bound to be accidents when you have a lapse in concentration. Avoid punishing the puppy and instead just be more careful and observant next time.
Keeping your puppy active with training, exercise & brain games will help prevent boredom chewing. Scent work games are fantastic. Using snuffle mats or hiding their favourite treats or toy inside a cardboard box is a great introduction to scent work games. Remember when starting out to make it very easy for them, you don't want frustration occurring which may put them off trying. Always keep it simple and fun to keep your puppy engaged.
In summary, do not let your puppy practise chewing anything you don't want chewed. If there is a time when you cannot supervise them, pop them safely in their den. Always have a constant supply of chew outlets available for them throughout this important developmental stage of their lives, We should always be setting them up for success.
Jo runs the Paw Powered website and blog, she is a professional dog handler, trainer and boarding carer. When she is not looking after dogs or helping others do so, she spends her time practising her hobby of taking pictures of them to show others how wonderful dogs can be.