Nancy Kerns: Hi! I am Nancy Kerns, Editor of The Whole Dog Journal. Today I am going to discuss how to deal with puppy chewing.
Puppies have to chew, chewing is how they explore their world, it's also how they relieve the pain and irritation of teething and how they relieve stress and boredom.
Puppies who have ample opportunities to chew on appropriate chew items learn to be content spending time on their own. So chewing is important, but that doesn't mean pups have to chew your $100 shoes.
Before you bring a puppy home you need to thoroughly puppy-proof, anything that you don't want chewed should be put somewhere he can't reach. If there is too much vulnerable stuff in a given room, make that room unavailable to him with either a closed door or a baby-gate.
Or bring him in only when he is being actively supervised or on a leash with an appropriate chew toy. Baby-gates, crates and exercise pens are your best friends. Use them to create at least one puppy proofed room containing no illegal chew items and equipped with a wide variety of appropriate chewies.
You need to have lots of toys made of different types of materials, buy one gooey soft plastic toy, one hard plastic toy, one fuzzy stuffed animal, a fresh meaty bone from the butcher or supermarket, a touch stick or piece of untreated wood, a big rawhide or beef pizzle and maybe something made out of sheep skin or leather, I'd offer them all to the puppy in his safe room or exercise pen and observe him carefully to see which types he prefers most. Buy a few more of the types that he likes best, but don't go crazy, because his preferences may change as he matures and his puppy teeth fall out and his adult teeth come in.
What if despite your puppy-proofing and all the great toys he choose something forbidden, don't freak out, look around and grab one of his favorite toys. Make some excited sounds and start flapping the toy around so it appears that you are having way more fun than he is.
When he bounces over to investigate, trade him the legal toy for the illegal one and then think about why he turned to something he wasn't supposed to have. is he understimulated, looking for attention, in need of a play session or does he not have enough chew toys of the texture that he is drawn to.
It might seem like this chewing phase if going to last forever but it will pass too. Remember, chewing is an important part of the puppy's development.