Chewing is a very natural thing for a puppy to do, as they use their mouths as a way to explore the world around them. However, chewing becomes an undesirable behavior when it begins to be directed toward objects that aren’t meant to be chewed. Shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet are potential targets. Many people tolerate inappropriate chewing because puppies are small and cute. However, it is important to address bad habits like chewing while a puppy is young to avoid major headaches down the road.

Puppy-Proof Your Home

It is important to remember that young puppies are easily distracted. One minute they will be playing with one of their toys, and then seconds later, your dirty skivvies will look much more appealing. The best thing you can do is to avoid leaving tempting objects laying around where your puppy can easily access them.

In addition to hiding away curious objects, be sure to keep things like toxic plants, household cleaners and chemicals far out of reach. Don’t forget about electrical cords. They should be covered or made inaccessible to the puppy to avoid possible electrocution.

For times when your puppy has to be unsupervised, crate training him is a good idea. Another thing you can do is place your puppy in a playpen with toys that you want him to play with. As long as you are busy, keeping your puppy contained in this way will help keep him out of trouble.

Discourage Inappropriate Chewing

Since you puppy-proofed your home, you have already minimized the amount of trouble he or she may get into. If your puppy begins to chew on something he shouldn’t, take the object away from him and say no. If the dog continues to go straight to something of yours instead of one of his toys, consider spraying a taste deterrent on the object. A few tastes of bitter apple sprayed on the object of their desire may just do the trick!

Encourage Acceptable Chewing

One way you can encourage your puppy to chew on the right things is to buy them a Kong® toy. A Kong® is a small plastic toy in which you can place treats. They will entertain your puppy for a while. These types of food-filled puzzle toys let your puppy know it is okay to chew on them. Nylabones, Greenies and dental chewsticks are other great options. When selecting chew toys for your puppy, be sure to avoid giving them old or worn out items of yours to chew on. For example, if you give your puppy an old pair of your tennis shoes to chew up, don’t be surprised if you come home and he is munching on your high heels.

Redirecting Energy

When you catch your puppy chewing on something he shouldn’t be, replace the item with something he can chew on. Praise your puppy when he begins to chew on the correct toy. Over time, your puppy will naturally learn which objects belong to him and which do not.

One reason that puppies may decide to chew on things is that they are bored. Keeping your puppy mentally and physically stimulated will stop them from naughty behavior like chewing. Exercising a puppy will make them use their extra energy while on a walk, rather than causing destruction at home. A dog that is tired out is a good one! Spending time playing and exercising with your dog regularly will help expend and redirect all of their vibrant puppy energy.