Making sure that your puppy starts life out the right way from day one helps prevent behavioral problems from developing later in life. Puppies get new teeth until they are six months old. From four to six months of age teething is a primary concern. That’s important to understand because when puppies are teething, their gums are sore and chewing makes them feel better. Later on, dogs chew because it’s fun. Occasionally dogs chew to relieve anxiety (separation anxiety or boredom. The most common medical cause of chewing in older dogs is gum disease (gingivitis).
- The solution with puppies is to provide appropriate toys to chew on. Several products are available commercially, including safe edible bones and cotton “flossing” knots. You can also make chew toys out of frozen washcloths, frozen green beans, kool-aid cubes, and fruit squares. Avoid rawhide, it’s soaked in formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic, and avoid all real meat bones because they can splinter into sharp pieces which can damage the stomach and intestines.
- Don’t give your puppy your old shoes to chew on. He doesn’t know the difference between old shoes and new ones and most people don’t appreciate their new shoes being chewed up.
- Older dogs that chew excessively may have either a medical or behavioral problem. First check with your vet: have a complete physical and dental examination. Eighty-five percent of dogs over eight years old have gum disease, which is painful and is also a leading cause of heart disease. A professional dental cleaning generally solves the problem.
TIP: Get your puppy out into the world and introduce him to as many new sights, sounds, smells and tastes as you can. Take him for a brisk walk before you leave him alone at home. Chances are he’ll be inclined to relax and take a nap while you’re gone and leave your house intact.
PUPPY-PROOFING YOUR HOME
- When you bring home a new puppy, you will need to adjust your lifestyle. Expect inconvenience and plan to spend a lot of time together. Puppy proof your home: make your house and your yard as safe as possible. Puppies are just like toddlers – everything they see goes into their mouth. So look at your house from a puppy’s perspective. Crawl around on your hands and knees if you need to. Look for temptations that could be dangerous like electric cords, small toys they can chew up and swallow, aw well as plants that might be toxic such as holly, ivy, and azaleas.
- Outside be careful where you place pesticides like ant baits, rat poison and antifreeze containers. Also be sure your trashcan is off limits and has a secure lid.
- If you see your puppy doing something dangerous, use negative reinforcement to stop him right away so he does not hurt himself. So, for example, if you see him chewing on an electric cord, make a sudden loud noise with a shake can. To make a shake can, just taken an empty soda can and fill it with a handful of pennies (they fit right through the slot) and start shaking.
KEEPING YOUR PUPPY BUSY
Toys help keep puppies from becoming bored and chewing on household items like your furniture. Toys also stimulate your puppy mentally and encourage problem solving. Some toys are not only educational they are also instant boredom busters. Other toys can be stuffed with treats like peanut butter and cheese. Certain cube-type toys are divided up into compartments so you can load them up with dry food and other goodies. As the puppy pushes the cube the treats are released to keep his interest and reward his efforts.