By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Sep 3, 2019
Puppies are always at risk of ingesting a foreign body since they explore the world with their mouths. An episode of foreign body ingestion can cost a great deal of money at your veterinary office and put your dog through uncomfortable surgery. If the wrong material gets lodged in the digestive tract, it could be fatal. It would be ideal to resolve this problem behavior.
Here are some strategies on how to prevent puppy chewing problems to keep them safe in your home.
When a puppy is chewing on things that they shouldn’t my first suggestion is to try and restrict access to the things that they are biting. At night or when you leave the house, you could consider crating so that they can’t interact with things that pose a safety risk. With some training, a crate can become a safe and cozy den that becomes a familiar and secure place where they can relax
Find toys and products that your pup is allowed to vigorously engage with that essentially substitutes the inappropriate chewing item with an appropriate one. Focus their attention on it by placing treats inside of it. This will give them an outlet for the behavior that is appropriate and tolerable.
If you do catch him in the act, try not to be too strict. You could discipline or punish them in the moment, but I strongly recommend not to do this as it can make the home a scary place and create other problems such as anxiety. One thing you can try is moving your pup away from the item that they are chewing, or command them to go lay down in their dog bed and then give a treat or chewable item that is appropriate. By rewarding them for stopping the behavior, they’ll likely learn not to do it in the first place.
Provide your puppy with as much environmental stimulation as you can and they may fall out of the habit of chewing altogether. By providing environmental enrichment and consistent stimulation, they may not develop the habit of chewing at all. What I suggest is to use treats, laser pointers, play scavenging games (hiding treats) and long exhausting episodes of exercise to keep them as busy as possible. If some of this behavior is due to stress, you can speak to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety supplements and medication that may help as well but with a puppy, I highly doubt this is part of the problem.