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Help! My puppy keeps biting!

Just as cats scratch, fish swim and horses gallop, dogs chew; it’s a fact. But what can you do when that chewing becomes a nuisance? Whether it’s to protect your treasured couch or your own invaluable shoes, chewing can be deterred in a number of pet-safe ways. Today we’ll look at some of the things you can do and why some dogs chew in the first place!

Why do dogs chew?

Some dogs chew to relieve the stress of separation anxiety and usually occurs when they’re left alone. They may also display other signs of separation anxiety such as whining, barking, pacing, restlessness, urination and defecation. Some dogs prefer to lick, suck and chew at fabrics and it’s believed that this behaviour is from them having been weaned too early. Finally, and for puppies especially, chewing can be a result of teething — the loss of your pup’s baby teeth and the subsequent growing of their adult ones.

So, now that we know the reasoning behind some forms of chewing, we can start to take proactive steps towards changing these bad habits and turning your pet into a more respectable member of your household!

How do I prevent chewing?

• The first thing you’ll need to do is “Dog-proof” your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident that your dog’s chewing behaviour is restricted to appropriate items. Keep shoes and clothing in a closed closet, dirty clothes in a basket and books on a shelf. Make it easy for your dog to succeed!

• Provide your dog with plenty of their own toys and indestructible chew bones. Pay attention to the types of toys that keep them chewing for long periods of time and continue to offer those. It’s ideal to introduce something new or to rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so that they don’t become bored with the same old toys.

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• Discourage chewing inappropriate items by spraying them with chewing deterrents. When you first use a deterrent, apply a small amount to a piece of tissue or cotton wool and gently place it in your dog’s mouth. Allow them to taste it and then spit it out. If your dog finds the taste unpleasant, they might shake their head, drool or retch. Ideally, they will have learned the connection between the taste and the odour of the deterrent, and they’ll be more likely to avoid chewing items that smell like it.

• When you can’t supervise your dog, you must find a way to prevent them from chewing on inappropriate things in your absence. For example, if you work during the day, you can leave your dog at home in a confinement area for up to six hours. Use a crate or put your dog in a small room with the door or a baby gate closed. Be sure to remove all things that your dog shouldn’t chew from their confinement area and give them a variety of appropriate toys and chew things to enjoy instead. Keep in mind that if you confine your dog, you’ll need to give them plenty of exercise and quality time with you when they’re not confined.

Seems simple enough, but what shouldn’t I do?

We’re glad you asked. Don’t show your dog the damage they did and slap, scold or punish them after the fact. This is actually counter-intuitive to established training methods (the only good training is done with treats). Other than that, have patience with your pet. You’ve had years of practice to know not to chew on certain things, so give them the appropriate time to learn for themselves!

Now that your favourite pair of shoes are safe from the fangs of your best furry friend, you can start to enjoy some peace and quiet (well, you can keep telling yourself that anyway). Of course, if you’re still stumped on how to prevent nuisance chewing you can always give us a call or visit here to contact us directly. We’re always happy to help!

For, now paw-pals, we say farewell!