So you thought that puppy you adopted was such a cute, sweet, adorable little angel, but after you got him home, you found out he was really a Tasmanian Devil? Before you knew it, you had a furry little mini-tornado on your hands; a whirling dervish of sharp little needle-like teeth chewing and biting everything in site; chewing the legs of your furniture and leaving your shoes in tatters.
Yes, your new puppy is cute and cuddly, but things can get out-of-hand fast!
Puppies love to chew and bite whatever they can sink their teeth into. It’s no wonder, since it’s a major part of their lifestyle and communication from the moment they are born. Biting and nipping at their litter-mates and their parents is as natural to a puppy as putting everything in the mouth is to a human baby. It’s fun, it’s how they learn about things, and it’s how they learn their limits. And don’t forget, puppies go through a teething period, just like a human child does, complete with the same sore gums that make chewing such a relief. It’s not surprising, then, that your little puppy wants to chew on your things, and you, too.
But never fear, there are several things you can do to curb this behavior without breaking your puppy’s playful spirit, or his or her need to chew. When your puppy is trying to chew or bite on things, just remember this training tip – R.E.S.T.
- Replace – Instead of the furniture, shoes, and you, have several different chew toys available for your puppy. There are plastic bones, ropes, treats, and toys made for specifically for chewing. Make sure your puppy knows where to find them and that they are always available when the urge to chew hits. We keep ours in a small plastic bin in a corner downstairs. Just reprimanding puppy with a sharp NO doesn’t work; your puppy needs a replacement.
- Energize – Is your puppy trying to get you involved in a game of biting? Instead of constantly scolding him, you need to work off some of that puppy energy with some other games that puppies love. Wrestle, chase each other around, or throw a ball for your puppy to fetch. He’s got a lot of energy and he needs to use it. Have fun while playing with your puppy so he’s distracted, happy, and forgets he even wanted to bite. The bonus is all that playing will burn up all that excess energy and the little darling may even want to take a nap.
- Settle – Often, when puppies get overexcited, they start nipping and biting. You’ll know when your playful puppy goes from fun to frantic when he or she starts nipping again, and perhaps panting. Calm your puppy down by gently holding and petting rhythmically, keeping the puppy in one position, preferably lying down on his or her side. Don’t push your puppy away as this will only translate into another game, inciting the puppy’s instinct to play. Lower your voice, calm your motions, and wait until your puppy settles into a calmer mood before you play again.
- Trap – If you let a young puppy have free-run of your home, you may find it difficult to control the chewing. It’s a better idea to designate an area and gate it off so that you can keep only puppy-friendly materials in there. This will prevent you from going crazy chasing after your puppy trying to stop the chewing. It will also eliminate stress on the puppy, constantly being reprimanded for chewing when that’s all a puppy wants to do. Fill your puppy-friendly place with lots of chew toys so you both can relax.
Even if your puppy wants to please, it’s hard for him or her to give up chewing and biting. It’s up to you to teach your puppy what is acceptable chewing behavior and what is not. It will undoubtedly take some time and patience, but your puppy will learn what can and cannot be chewed. These four simple tips – Replace, Energize, Settle, and Trap – will help you and your puppy come to an understanding and enjoy a long, wonderful friendship.