At about four months old, puppies begin to cut their permanent teeth. This causes discomfort and pups often chew objects to gain relief. Puppies are also naturally inquisitive and will test new objects in their mouths.
Puppies are usually less inclined to chew everything after about six months of age. However, their jaws are still growing and developing until 18 months, and therefore many puppies continue to have bouts of chewing until this time as their adult teeth settle into place.
Puppies chew – but adults do too
It is also important to note that most adult dogs enjoy chewing as an activity as it helps to relieve boredom, releases tension in the jaw and face muscles and causes “feel-good” chemicals to be released in the brain.
This means that we must provide them with suitable items to chew throughout their lives.
Provide safe, suitable chew options
Dogs have no way to tell the difference between chew toys and our belongings and furniture, so it is our job to make sure that they chew objects that are safe for them and acceptable to us.
If a puppy finds chewing shoes enjoyable and is not given an appropriate alternative, there is no reason for the puppy to stop doing this as an adult dog. However, by puppy-proofing our homes (e.g. packing shoes away in the cupboard), supervising our puppies and providing appropriate chews, we can condition them to have good chewing habits which will continue into adulthood.
Providing stuffed Kong toys (durable hollow toys that you fill with your puppy’s food) is an excellent way to direct chewing onto appropriate objects – because the puppy gets food from this toy when he chews it he should find it much more rewarding than chewing your shoes.
Other items that dogs love to chew are rawhide, dried sinews, hooves and large smoked bones especially prepared and sold for dogs. All these items are available at pet and vet shops.
Keep calm – even if it’s your Louboutons
If your pup does take something inappropriate, yelling and chasing him is not the answer.
Instead, calmly entice him to you (using food or a toy as bait), and invite him to do a swop. Always reward him for leaving the object, even if you had to bribe him and he has already chewed it a little (yes, still deserves a reward).
Chasing him will only teach him to avoid you – and you will soon find out that he is a lot faster than you are!