Puppy chewing – your questions answered

A lot of families in Worcestershire got themselves a puppy during lockdown. However, shortly after that cute furball has arrived you’ll get your first nip from those pin-sharp teeth and next thing you know … the cute furball has destroyed your sofa and your slippers.

Your pup has just entered what we call the ‘Chewing Phase’ and shortly you’ll want the answers to a few common questions. Our vets have anticipated your puppy chewing questions and answer the common ones below. Let us know how our tips work out for you and share your own puppy chewing hints & hacks on our Facebook page.

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Why does my puppy chew?

There are four main reasons your puppy will chew. Understand the cause of their chewing and you can quickly plan ways to help them (and you) out.

  1. They are teething. Just like human babies, when your puppy has a new tooth coming through their gums will feel sore, so they chew to ease the pain.
  2. Puppies chew, nip and ‘mouth’ to strengthen their jaw. This is a basic dog behaviour that lasts through to adulthood to keep their jaw muscles strong.
  3. They chew as they learn acceptable social behaviours. They learn from relationships between their actions and the reactions of other dogs (and of course you).
  4. They chew because they are bored.

How long does the puppy chewing phase last?

Longer than you might think! Actually, until your puppy is 1 to 2 years old (depending on the breed and personality of your dog). At around 2-3 weeks those pin-sharp ‘puppy teeth’ emerge. At around 4 months old, adult teeth begin to come through. Then, from 7-12 months, adolescent chewing kicks in as the new teeth settle down and your puppy begins to explore the world.

What you can do about puppy chewing

Now you know the causes, here are a few tips to help you manage puppy chewing at home:

Puppy proof your home

Prepare for success by putting the chewable things you can out of reach; slippers, electrical flexes and children’s toys need to be moved if they are to be saved.

Train your puppy at home

If they chew something they shouldn’t, immediately replace it with something they can chew. When they have their own object in their mouth, give them lots of positive attention. If they nip or mouth you or your clothing, tell them ‘No’, then disengage. A minute later, put their toy in their mouth and start engaging and playing again.

Learn how to confine them

When you need to go out or be away from your puppy, putting them in a crate or a confined area is important for their safety and development. It also gets them used to being in an area where they can get some downtime.

Give your puppy more stimulation

Confinement should not be a regular substitute for a lack of attention. Positive stimulation and socialisation are the most important factors in your new pup’s development. When your puppy starts destructive chewing, they’re probably just attention-seeking so lengthen their daily walk (or go out multiple times) and introduce more stimulating activities.

Get a few chew toys

Invest in high quality dog-specific chew toys that are built to last. No sticks please and no toys they can destroy and eat (you may need to persevere here).

Consider puppy classes

These will teach you and your puppy how to give and react to basic commands. Classes will teach you how to handle and socialise your dog and better still, these sessions will tire them out. One thing you’ll come to learn is that a tired puppy is much less likely to chew your belongings.

Puppy chewing will end

Before you know it, the chewing phase is over and all you’ve got to remember it by is half a dozen destroyed slippers. Remember, manage their environment, teach them what’s acceptable, and provide lots of the right stimulation. After all, that’s the joy of having a puppy! Right?