Health

Chewing

Help your Puppy Become a Well-Adjusted Dog

Chewing actually is not such a bad thing for a dog to do.  It is necessary to the physical and mental health of the dog.  However, as you might have guessed, the real concern here is not that the dog chews, it is “what” the dog chews.

For a puppy, one of the most important first survival lessons is the use of it’s mouth and jaws.  Mouthing, by definition, is a puppy’s unending desire to bite at your hands, feet, shoes, or hemlines.  Because this behavior can be destructive and it hurts, puppy owners usually want it to cease as soon as possible.  Yet, one of the biggest mistakes owners make is to come down too hard on a mouthing puppy.

Mouthing is Learning

During the socialization phase of your pet’s development, approximately the first 4 to 16 weeks, your puppy is learning what is and what is not appropriate behavior.  He will bite constantly at everything that moves; including the tail, ears, and legs of his own mother.  Because the puppy’s milk teeth are so sharp, it takes very little pressure to bring about a quick and startling response from Mom.  After perhaps hundreds of these types of encounters, the puppy finally learns to be quite gentle when playing with other members of his canine group.  With training and a bit of patience, this important lesson will carry over into your puppy’s relationship with people.

As a new puppy owner, you should allow your pet to mouth, correcting him repeatedly, but in a mild fashion, when he bites too hard.  Reacting in a sharp and startling way with a loud “hey” works with many puppies.  If you are too harsh in correcting your pet, then your puppy may stop mouthing and fail to learn to be extremely sensitive to situations where his teeth come into contact with human skin.  A mature dog that has failed to learn and make this distinction could end up unintentionally injuring someone.  This could result in the dog being termed a biter and regretfully euthanized.

Chewing Relief

During early development, your puppy also uses chewing to constantly sample the taste and texture of many different things in its environment.  During teething, chewing helps to relieve the constant dull pain in your pet’s gums.  Chewing also strengthens the teeth and gums.  But one of the main benefits of chewing is often overlooked.  Chewing releases tension.

If your pet builds up excess tension and chewing is something that helps to release that tension, then your puppy might get into the habit of constantly chewing furniture, clothing, and carpeting.  To curb this chewing addiction, you should be offering your puppy a variety of appropriate toys to chew followed by praise for doing so.

If you offer your pup one of your old boots to chew, then don’t expect him to stop there.  He will get ahold of your new leather slippers.  He won’t be able to make the distinction no matter how much you scold.  Therefore, giving your pet his own toys – different from your personal items – is necessary.

Toys and Tension

You also should be mindful of what causes tension in your pet.  Possibly your puppy does not like being left in the dark or home alone for long periods of time. Possibly a lack of human attention may lead to boredom, causing your pet to chew just to wile away the hours.  Meeting your puppy’s behavioral, environmental, nutritional, and maintenance needs will help alleviate boredom.  A daily exercise schedule also can help while increasing the human-pet bond.

Under normal conditions, your puppy’s constant need to chew will diminish as it matures.  A healthy and well-balanced dog still will enjoy chewing , but easily can be satisfied with a pet-safe bone or other types of pet chew toys.