Puppy Chewing And Prevention

A shoe here.  A couch there. Maybe some clothing or the occasional electrical cord. Do these account for some part of your puppy’s daily intake? Thinking of decorating with an industrial look? Say concrete and tin? Don’t despair. There is a way forward that doesn’t involve tooth extraction!

I have both puppy-proofed and child-proofed a home and believe me, the puppy-proofing is more difficult. I think it is the determination that puppies have in addition to the stamina. Added to that is the fact that you can’t really stop with the house.  The backyard and everything in it must also be looked at and tested for puppy safety.

Plan Ahead

Puppies chew and that is a fact of life. They are not evil or wantonly destructive. They are just driven to chew and some chew quite a lot for quite a long time. Accept that fact, Prevent unacceptable chewing and encourage acceptable chewing.

Before bringing your little bundle of joy plus teeth, home, inspect your home with the mindset of your puppy. In his view all the world is a chew toy and it was very thoughtful of you to provide such a wide variety from which to choose. It is not patently clear to him that the latex squeaky objects are there for his delight but the latex covered electrical cords are not. Many temptations are quite close by and apparently there for the taking. If your eyes are down at his level what might you see of interest? Electrical cords need to be placed out of reach and can be either enclosed together and tucked out of the way or simply duct taped up and away. Cord Away Wire Clips work well.

Puppies are all as adventurous as Christopher Columbus and will explore everything with their mouths. Those plants you have artistically arranged may look like a veritable salad bar to Spot. Many houseplants are poisonous and you should remove those for the time being. Or tuck them up and away and hide the ladder. Latch all your cabinets just as you would for an infant as this is  what you are dealing with — a four-legged, many toothed,fast moving, inquisitive infant.

Secure your balcony in such a way that your little wiggle worm can’t wiggle through and take a dive. Check your fencing for any possible escape routes including but not limited to over, under, around and through. Paint products, insecticides and fertilizers should be safely out of paw’s reach. Tablecloths, runners, shade or blinds cords can all be pulled on, pulled off or used to get tied up in. And don’t forget to consider the other end as well. A good swift swipe of a sturdy tail can send a precious vase flying.

Basic Check List For Puppy Safety

  • Store chemicals, cleaners, fertilizers, insecticides,and medication safely out of reach
  • Keep floor picked up and free of children’s toys, shoes, etc.
  • Secure yard and/or balcony
  • Hanging objects tucked away (cords, plants, tablecloths)
  • Wooden furniture can be sprayed with Bitter Apple or some other anti-chew product.  This deters most chewers, but frequently labs just consider it a starter and a sought after delicacy
  • Provide an assortment of good, durable chew toys

Good Chew Toys

Dog toys can quickly become hazardous as they are slowly destroyed. Check that small pieces have not broken off and present a choking hazard. Likewise, tug toys and squeaky toys can become disemboweled and dismembered thus becoming hazardous.

If you do catch them chewing on something unsuitable, remove it, tell them “wrong” and substitute an appropriate chew item. Their toys should have a variety of textures as some dogs prefer hard objects and some quite soft.  I have found the classic non-edible  Nylabone to be particularly well liked.

Having thought this through carefully and done all you can, rest assured that he will still find something unacceptable to chew on. It is at this point that I usually wave the object in front of them asking pointlessly “did YOU do this?” You know they did. They know they did. I then take the rolled up newspaper and beat myself for having left those new Fendi’s on the floor.

Photo Credits: dogwelder on flickr

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