If you have a new puppy, you know already that they like to chew. Not only do puppies LIKE to chew, they really NEED to chew. Chewing is more than entertainment for puppies. It helps them with teething, and it relaxes them. They are able to relieve themselves of frustration and anxiety by chewing.
Destructive chewing usually begins quite innocently for the puppy, but it can rapidly escalate into a serious problem if the puppy is not supervised and directed properly.
Here is a typical scenario:
Owner has new puppy. Owner leaves new puppy unsupervised. Puppy gets anxious or bored, and looks for something to soothe or entertain himself with. He comes across a shoe. (or anything else that smells like the owner) Immediately the puppy is interested, and comforted by the scent of the owner. Then she will begin to chew the object that smells like the owner to relieve it’s frustration and anxiety. As the puppy chews, she feels much better. The amount of reinforcement a puppy gets from this activity cannot be over emphasized. The likelihood of a puppy deliberately seeking out your personal items goes up exponentially after even only ONE incident where he’s allowed to relieve his anxiety in this manner. This is why careful confinement and supervision is SO IMPORTANT. You can never remove that reinforcement the puppy got while he soothed his anxiety or boredom by chewing the object that smells like you.
So what do we do? We confine and supervise the puppy very carefully, and we make sure she has a GREAT toybox with a variety of very interesting chew items. You can use a box or basket of any type as long as the puppy can easily get to it to take out chew items. Some things that can go in the box are kong toys, nyla bones, real bones, plastic soda bottles…..use your imagination and keep it interesting and varied. For the first week or so, put a tiny smear of peanut butter or cheez whiz on each toy once a day.
So now you have your toy box set up, and your pup is out playing. Of course the pup will choose a toy from the box to start. But eventually the pup will decide to investigate something that’s not his business. This is why you MUST watch a puppy EVERY SECOND he is loose in your house in the beginning. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to TEACH. So, when the puppy focuses on something he should not have (this means LOOKING AT, SNIFFING, or PUTTING HIS MOUTH on any object you don’t want him to chew) immediately interrupt him. I usually say AH AH, as I move towards the puppy. Once you have his attention, rush him happily and cheerfully to the toy box, and help him find a cool toy to play with and chew. Encourage him with a little tug game, or a few tosses.
Do this each time your puppy focuses on something he should not have. I also interrupt and redirect in this manner each time the puppy looks up at tabletops, countertops, stovetops, trash can, etc.
If you are consistent, and if you supervise CAREFULLY, in several weeks you will have a puppy who will consistently choose articles from the toy box to play with and chew.
Keep the box in one place, and never miss an opportunity to encourage the puppy towards the toy box when he wants something to play with.