How To Manage Puppy Chewing

Husky puppy chewing on chew toys

Give puppy "legal" alternatives to your furniture

Chewing and biting are perfectly normal dog behaviors. They’re on the list of things like barking, digging, and chasing squirrels that are essentially just dogs being dogs. It turns out that rather than saying “no” altogether to these natural behaviors, the easier route is to teach puppy what and when they can chew.
Make sure that safe chew toys are available to your puppy at all times. That way when they get the urge to gnaw on something, they’ll be able to make the right choice. Puppies can have different preferences of what they like to chew on. If your puppy isn’t interested in the toys already at home, audition new toys of different materials and toughness – test out rubber chew toys like kongs or West Paw toys or hol-ee rollers, sturdy chews like nylabones, balls, or stuffy toys (we love Fluff n Tuff brand especially), rope toys, and so on.

Have a prevention plan

The most important step for getting your puppy’s chewing under control is having a detailed prevention plan in place. Where is your puppy going to be when you can’t supervise? How will you set up a chew-proof space for them? How will you limit their access to furniture while they are still learning what is okay to chew and what is not?
My favorite solution is an exercise pen. It is easy to set up, and it can keep your puppy safely contained even if they are not yet crate trained. Note that a similar chew-proof zone can also be created using pet gates to section of a small area or room in your home.
Ex-pens and pet gates are an easy way to limit your puppy's access to only appropriate chew objects while they are still learning good chewing habits.

Interrupt and redirect

So what do you do if your puppy starts to chew something they shouldn’t? The answer is gently get their attention, such as by calling their name in a friendly voice, clap your hands, or make funny sound. Then, redirect them to chew on something appropriate. For example, if you catch your puppy chewing on the coffee table, go fetch a favorite toy and invite your puppy to play with it. Move the toy around and use an excited voice to get your dog refocused on the toy. If you can, continue to play with your puppy with the new toy for a couple minutes. This will help teach your puppy that selecting a chew toy leads to playtime, which will help increase the odds your puppy will seek out a toy instead of a table leg next time.

Notice when puppy makes good choices

While spending time with your puppy, try to notice when they pick out a chew toy all on their own. When they do, celebrate! Reward your puppy with happy talk and praise, petting, start your dog’s favorite game like fetch, tug, or keep-away with the toy they picked up. This will further develop your puppy’s preference for chewing on toys only. The trickiest part is noticing when your puppy is being good, and following through with rewarding them for it.

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Picture of Mara Clare Van Valzah, CTC, ANWI

Mara Clare Van Valzah, CTC, ANWI

Dog Trainer & Behavior Consultant

I founded Collaborative Canines to help dog owners to better understand, communicate with, and live joy-filled lives with their pets. Here, I share my dog training stories, tips, and tricks with you and other dog lovers all over the world. 

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