Biting and Chewing

Dogs need to chew to relieve stress and excess energy. In fact, puppy teething is a natural part of development. Our job is to make sure that they have appropriate things on which to chew. Just as you baby proof your home before bringing home a new baby, you must puppy proof your home before bringing home a new dog or puppy. Look at your house from the vantage point of the dog–it will be a pretty neat new playground for him and everything within reach is fair game. It’s simple– if you don’t want something chewed up, don’t leave it within reach. If you do, don’t blame the dog, blame yourself when he shreds it.

As your dog learns the rules, over time he can be trusted with more and more things which are accessible to him, but just like with housebreaking, your dog needs to earn his freedom step by step. If you can’t watch your dog and there are things he could chew, he should be crated or restricted to an area with no temptations. When you can watch him, if he starts to chew on something that is off-limits, say “no” or “drop” and immediately give him a safe chew toy. If he turns his attention to the chew toy, praise him like crazy! It’s a good idea to have a few favorite toys in reserve for this purpose. If you restrict his access to these toys, it will make them more special and a more enticing substitute for things like your shoes. When choosing substitutes, do not use old shoes or other items that should not be chewed when new. Even toys resembling these items can confuse your dog. Stick to things like chew bones and doggie toys.

Speaking of bones, we recommend that you do not give rawhide bones, especially if your dog is unattended. These bones can cause them to choke. Nylabones or edible bones like the Roarhide bones are better choices in our experience. NEVER give your dog chicken bones as these can splinter and puncture internal organs. In fact, we recommend never giving your dog actual bones of any type. If you have questions about the best chew bones or toys for your dog, see your veterinarian.

Some dogs want to bite and chew on people from a very early age. While this may be natural, it is not good and should be discouraged. People are not their chew toys, and such biting and chewing should be diverted to an appropriate object. Some trainers think that uncorrected biting and chewing can lead to aggressive behavior later, and most trainers suggest that there is also a link between aggressive behavior and rough play and tug-of-war games.