Chewing falls into the top three complaints of all time for owners of puppies. Allowance should be made for chewing as it is a biological need for canines. Much like housebreaking, the rule of “confine or supervise”, applies to controlling chewing. There is normal chewing and there is chewing driven by emotional stress. The management techniques are the same regardless of the driving cause but it helps to recognize when chewing is outside of the realm of normal so that you can assist your puppy in calming the anxiety that is causing him to chew uncontrollably.
There is never a time a puppy should be left unattended if it is not in safe confinement. (The backyard is NOT safe confinement.) Its crate (you do have a crate don’t you?) is safe confinement or any enclosure that mimics a crate. Crate-haters may try to baby gate their puppy in the kitchen only to find upon arrival to their home after a quick trip to Whole Foods that he has whittled the breakfast table chairs into pencil points. I often remind my clients the only way to control unwanted behavior outside of their presence is through confinement, or in another word, prevention.
With the confinement rule in place now you can focus on the rule of supervision. To supervise your puppy you must have him in your line of vision. A puppy can do a lot of damage in the time it takes to get distracted by a YouTube video. Provide delicious, nutritious and safe chew items for your puppy. If he is determined to chew on the edge of your sofa you might consider the need for an exercise pen to enclose your puppy at times. Unlike a crate an exercise pen is a large enclosure that allows your puppy room to romp. An exercise pen can keep him away from your belongings while allowing him a safe place to focus on his chew items.
The kind of chewing that falls outside the realm of normal is chewing driven by stress. There are additional behaviors that occur simultaneously with chewing that indicate your puppy is stressed beyond normal. Chewing is usually a calming activity that, in a way, allows a puppy or dog to go into a meditative state. Stress related chewing may be accompanied by wide eyes, panting, drooling or vocalizing. In these cases supplements and customized behavior modification may be necessary. If your puppy is chewing on parts of your home or the bars or pan of his crate relentlessly so that he’s causing himself harm you will need to seek professional help. I recommend doing this sooner rather than later.
The chewing phase seems like it might last forever when you’re Prada sunglasses have fallen victim to the sharp teeth of a 12 week old or when guilt is getting the best of you as you think of your puppy in its crate while you’re at the movies. However, if you are putting your hard work in now to train your puppy to tolerate confinement this phase will be over before you know it. Take compensating efforts by being certain your puppy is stimulated and exercised when the two of you are together so that your puppy will be tired when it has to be in its crate. RAW by Canines First carries delicious, nutritious and safe chew items to leave with your puppy during confinement or supervision. Lastly, life after puppy is different than life before puppy. You’ll need to keep your new Louboutins in your closet for a few months as a failsafe for when you forget to follow the rule of “confine or supervise”.