Destructive Chewing

    Puppies explore the world with their mouths. Puppies, also, play with things by chewing on  them. When they are bored, they relieve it by chewing. Chewing is normal. It is natural. You cannot stop a puppy from chewing. That is the bad news.
    The good news is that a puppy is more likely to chew  on something that is new to him than he is to chew on something that has  been around for several days. You can usually protect your possessions by giving your puppy a new toy every day.  If you purchase a new toy  for your puppy every day, you will soon go bankrupt. But most of us  bring home free dog toys on a regular basis. And most of us throw them away.

    Most things that we buy at the supermarket come in plastic containers of one kind or another.  There are gallon milk jugs, two liter Pepsi bottles, I Can’t Believe It Is Not Butter tubs, as well as  detergent and laundry bleach bottles. All of these can be recycled as dog toys. So can plastic flower pots from the nursery. Practically any  plastic container that you bring home can be put to good use protecting  the other things that you own.

    If you can remember back when you  were a child, it did not matter how many Christmas presents the jolly  old elf brought, by the New Year, you had nothing to play with. “But Momma, this stuff is sooooo old.”  Dogs are, in many ways, just like  kids.  New is exciting.  Old is not.  Your puppy will play with a “new”  jug. After it has lain around for a day or two, he will go back to  chewing at random.  To keep your dog from chewing things that you do not  want him to chew, you need to keep him supplied with a new toy.  If you  think that the toy that thrills him so today will work tomorrow, you  are mistaken. Give him a new toy every day.

    Some puppies, despite having a new toy, will continue to chew on other things. Usually this obsessive chew spot will be one specific place. When this is the case, you must, somehow, make the preferred chew spot distasteful.

    If his  favorite chew place has a hard surface - such as the rung on a kitchen chair - there are a number of different ways to make it an unpleasant  experience. You can purchase a product called “Bitter Apple.”  This  deters most puppies. Some, it does not slow down. Tabasco Sauce or  another super hot pepper sauce painted on the surface works for many  puppies. If neither “Bitter Apple” nor a hot sauce stops him, ask your  pharmacist for Quinine in solution. Quinine is one of the most bitter products available.

    If his chew spot is a rug or carpet or a throw  pillow, get some pickling alum (used for making pickles crisp) from the  super market or just ask your pharmacist for a box of alum.  Alum is  very astringent. Getting it in your mouth gives the same sensation as  biting into a green persimmon. It is unpleasant. Sprinkle the alum liberally on the chew spot. Later, after your puppy is convinced that  he doesn't’ want to chew there any more, you can vacuum the alum up.

    When  you catch your puppy in the act of chewing on something that you do not  want him to chew on, reprimand him. A moderate slap on his butt is not  inappropriate. Stop him from chewing. Then give him an object to play with that you approve of.

    When you cannot supervise your puppy, he  should be safely confined.  You can only change a behavior while the  behavior is happening.  You have no control over what he does when you  are not with him.  Allowing him to misbehave because you are not supervising him undoes what you have tried to teach him.