Many puppies and dogs are surrendered to shelters because their owners are not prepared for how to manage a puppy’s teething needs and a dog’s natural need to gnaw. A dog’s strongest need to chew is from young puppyhood through the first year, as the puppy is teething. Once past the “Terrible Chews” of puppyhood, most dogs will not chew excessively on things around the house unless bored.
Just like a human baby, puppies do a lot of chewing to soothe their irritated gums as new teeth come in. The simplest way to avoid a house full of chewed table-legs is to provide your puppy with enticing age-appropriate chew toys and to limit unsupervised time to areas where your puppy is not going to get into trouble.
Outside play time in a fenced-in yard is much like recess for a child. Outside time provides your growing puppy with free time where he can run, play and chew on things without having to worry so much about following rules.
For young puppies, the Kong company makes rubber chew toys with a special teething formula designed to soothe the irritated gums of teething puppies. They also enjoy chewing and tugging on rope toys with doggie or human friends. Squeaky or plush toys are a poor choice for young puppies because they will be torn up, possibly eaten, or left in many pieces on the floor.
Older Dogs with Chewing Problems
Some dogs are more prone to chewing than others, though in most cases dogs chew excessively because their needs are not being met. Dogs who do not get enough exercise, human interaction or play time are much more likely to chew on inappropriate objects or even tear things apart with their teeth out of boredom and frustration.
If you have a dog who is doing a lot of destructive chewing, first stop and ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is my dog getting enough exercise? Most dogs need at least a daily walk to remain healthy and satisfy their natural curiosity. Younger dogs and active breeds may require long play sessions or a playmate to fully satisfy their exercise needs.
2) Is my dog getting enough human interaction? If you are working 12 or more hours a day and coming home too tired to spend much time with your dog, then you may need to consider changing your schedule or finding a more appropriate home for your dog.
3) Has there been a major change in my dog’s life recently? When a human family member leaves the home such as a child going to college or a divorce that splits the family in half, your dog may show dramatic changes in behavior. But with patience, time, and a regular new routine, your dog will calm down and adjust to a new family and new life.
4) Does my dog have enticing, long-lasting chew bones or toys? While a variety of chew toys and bones are available, they are only useful if your dog enjoys them and they will last for a long period of time.
Longlasting Natural Chew Bones
At Healing Hearts Animal Rescue in Nashville, we have found that all-natural chew bones are highly enticing to dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. While most dogs will happily accept and chew a rawhide, there is nothing that compares to the sheer joy on their faces when they realize that they have a real bone to chew!
Rawhides are made in China and have caused serious health problems in some dogs when the ingested rawhide becomes stuck in the intestines, causing injury and even death, particularly in smaller breed dogs. They may also contain any number of toxic chemicals. With a puppy or vigorous chewer, even a large rawhide will not last more than an hour or two.
In contrast, real bones are made in the United States, and are natural cattle bone, sometimes basted with beef flavoring, but chemical-free. Available online for as little as $1.02/bone, real bones last even aggressive chewers for weeks or months. Many options exist including stuffed bones, basted bones, and marrow-filled bones.
Many local stores also offer real bones at reasonable prices. Tractor Supply offers basted bones and stuffed bones from $2 to $10, depending on bone size. Walgreen’s and Dollar General both offer a selection of basted bones, stuffed bones and marrow bones.