Puppy chewing. Something people don’t really warn you enough about, right? The truth is puppies are going to chew A LOT; whether it’s your favourite shoes, the skirting boards, or quite often us…those growing teeth are going to need an outlet.
But don’t worry, in this article we’re going to give you a deep dive into all things puppy chewing and we’ll be covering the following
- How to minimise puppy chewing
- How to stop your puppy chewing on things you don’t want them to
- A better understanding of puppy chewing
Is puppy chewing normal?
Is puppy chewing normal? 100 percent yes! Puppies chew because they have a biological need that has to be fulfilled. Nature calls!
What do we mean by that? Well, your darling fluff bundle is cute, but their first set of teeth are razor sharp. They don’t have the jaw strength or hunting skills to be able to fend for themselves yet, so it makes sense that they need needle teeth to act as a survival mechanism and help with eating solid food.
After those first puppy teeth come through, they have a whole other set that needs to come through, this means there’ll be a whole bunch of chewing going on!
Puppy chewing has two stages:
- The first stage is teething. This is where your puppy’s brain says ‘out with the old teeth, in with the new’. As you can also predict, it will also be the stage where EVERYTHING goes in your puppy’s mouth. Their mouth acts as their hands, and their teeth as little fingers they can feel with (strange image, I know) but it explains why everything gets chewed on – they want to investigate the world around them!
- The second state of chewing happens once they have their adult teeth and they need to continue strengthening their jaws. This type of chewing is mostly just for fun.
Our other article on puppy chewing here goes into far more detail if you really want to sink your teeth into it.
How to stop puppy chewing things they shouldn’t?
The easiest way to stop your puppy mouthing on things they shouldn’t, is to give them things they should chew on and to keep a close eye and limit their access to things you don’t want them to destroy.
So yes, in other words we recommend you to get your puppy addicted to chew toys:
- Stuffed chew toys: Puppy Kongs, West Paw Toppls and K9 Connectables can be filled with your puppy’s meals – it’ll be like they’re chewing on a never-ending treat.
- Solid chew toys: Coffee tree, olive wood roots and Nylabones are quite popular as well.
- Edible chews: Fish skins, buffalo or cow ears and vegetable chews sound strange, but are rather good.
- Frozen chews: Carrots split lengthways and frozen are cheap and incredibly soothing for sore gums!
- Soft toys: Some puppies aren’t hard chewers at all and prefer to suck, which is fine too.
Give them a whirl with your puppy to see which one tickles them the most, and keep them close for when they need something to chomp on.
Keep them entertained
When puppies are bored, it can mean your shoes and sofa risk seeing new tears and holes in them. Entertainment and mental stimulation are rather necessary to keep your puppy from chewing on things you don’t want them to have.
Don’t want to brag but we’ve got a ton of games, training lessons and enrichment activities in the Zigzag puppy training app if you need some good ideas of how you keep your puppy busy. If you need any more ideas for puppy chewing activities, our team of Puppy Training experts always have pretty good secrets too.
Our article about puppy biting has other juicy ways to help out with puppy chewing besides entertaining them. Not everyone is into clowning around.
Puppy Proof your home
A 12 week old puppy has no concept that chewing on wires isn’t a great idea – no reason why they should, anyway. But as responsible puppy parents, we have to make sure they’re in a safe environment where things like phones, sunglasses and other valuables are safely out of reach.
We also want to keep our wallets safe from having to replace expensive things due to puppy chewing, so best keep your home tickety-boo. Shoes are especially loved – puppies love them because they smell of us, their best person, right? Let’s get ‘Marie Kondo-ing’.
Provide encouragement for making good decisions!
If your puppy picks up a chew toy or takes it when you offer it to them, give them some happy feedback! They love knowing they’ve done the right thing – you’ll see that whole body wag with joy when you do. Adorable.
If your puppy starts chewing on something you’d rather not have them mouth on, redirect them onto one of their good chew toys and give them lots of praise. Hope they snap on to it!
Crates and Confinement (might) be your friend
Let’s clear this up. Crates and confinement areas make life with a puppy a whole lot easier, but it’s important that they are not abused. In other words, don’t use them in a way your puppy might think of them as a prison – we want them to enjoy being in there
Having them in a crate (or puppy safe confinement area if you want to get fancy with the terms) you can be sure they aren’t going to roam around freely and get in any trouble…like chewing on something they shouldn’t. Feeding them meals, hiding treats and toys for them to find here are always great ways to help them enjoy being in this area. Our article about crate training will show you how to get your puppy to hop on the crate train. The chew chew crate train.
Not fond of crates? No problem – you’ll just want to make doubly sure your home is puppy safe and things they shouldn’t chew on aren’t lying around. It might be a good exercise for you in the end – getting you to tidy up for once. Remember what they say, a decluttered home is a decluttered mind.
Destructive puppy chewing
Let’s not put all the blame on the teething stage. Puppy chewing can also be due to boredom or anxiety/fear related behaviour.
Boredom-related puppy chewing happens when your puppy is – duh, bored! It also happens when they don’t know what’s an appropriate thing to chew on and what isn’t, so it’s important you teach them what’s what when they’re puppies. Giving them the right amount of mental and physical exercise as well as lots of safe chew toys will do the trick – stuffed chew toys are a winner here.
We often forget that adult dogs still need to chew. Chewing cleans a dog’s teeth, and keeps that jaw nice and strong, so if you don’t give them chews, they will find something that fits the bill – like your bike tyres or doors. Better to keep up with the chew toys into adulthood too.
Chewing feels great when dogs are feeling anxious because it’s quite simply a self soothing behaviour. Yep, chewing releases feel-good chemicals (endorphins like dopamine and serotonin) in the brain and if a puppy is feeling anxious or worried they chew to make themselves feel better. A bit like us biting our nails when we’re nervous.
Destructive chewing is also often found in dogs with Separation Anxiety, you’ll know if this is your dog because it only happens or intensifies when you’re gone. We have an article on Separation Anxiety here for more help with that (insert link) as well as exercises in the Zigzag puppy training app around preventing Separation Anxiety.
But if you feel like your puppy suddenly starts chewing and being destructive, go for a trip to the vet’s to rule out any medical problems.
Want to learn more about puppy chewing?
We have an app for that! In the Zigzag puppy training app, we are bursting with ideas, tips, games and lessons that show you how to teach your puppy to chew happily (and the right stuff), as well as feel comfortable in their area.
You can always contact our Puppy Expert team, for more advice – they’re available 24/7 to give you advice with your puppy, and make unwanted chewing a thing of the past. Just remember, it’s only a phase, we’ll help you get through it!
Next, get all the new puppy tips you need with our ultimate guide for new owners.