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Q: Ever since I got a new puppy, my house has been a disaster zone! How do I keep him from chewing everything in sight?
A: Although puppies epitomize cuteness, they can also symbolize destruction, particularly when they are teething.
In the same way that teething is painful for babies, it's also uncomfortable for puppies, who respond by doing anything they can to alleviate the discomfort with chewing. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to curb inappropriate chewing while still providing your puppy with some relief.
Puppy toys are designed to be a little softer than adult dog toys, but they are tough enough to withstand the needle-like teeth of puppies. Toys that can be stuffed with food work well to encourage them to chew on appropriate toys instead of items in the home. To further soothe gums, many toys can be filled with water and then frozen.
My favorites are puppy Kong toys (they can be stuffed and frozen), Orbee-Tuff toys for puppies, Premier's puppy toys (Biscuit block, Puppy Waggle, Squirrel Dude), the freezable Pet Stages Puppy Cool Teether, Nylabone puppy toys designed for teething and the Multipet Chilly bone dog toy, which can be filled with water and frozen to relieve aching teeth and gums. You can also use dog-friendly frozen foods, like apples, carrots, green beans and blueberries. Ideally, you should keep an eye on your puppy when he's chewing toys or food items, especially if large pieces can be broken off or swallowed and cause choking.
Whenever your puppy is free in the home, direct him to play with approved chew toys. If you catch your puppy chewing on the furniture, avoid harsh verbal or physical punishment, which can cause a puppy to hide from you and make the habit even harder to break. Instead, interrupt your dog with an “oops” and immediately show him an appropriate toy. And be sure to reward your puppy with praise and treats when he chews on the correct toys.
When your puppy can't be supervised, he should be in a dog-proofed area. Crates, baby or dog fencing and baby gates are all essential tools to protect your house from destruction. When you leave your puppy, be sure to give him a stuffed Kong and a variety of food puzzles for him to work on while you’re away.
Teething doesn’t last forever — the process should be over when your puppy is 7 to 8 months old — although it can last a couple of months longer for some dogs. By using enticing dog chews, supervision and dog proofing, you can survive the teething time frame.
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