It may drive us humans bonkers, but chewing is a natural behaviour for puppies - it is one of the ways they explore the big new world around them.
Chewing can also help puppies relieve the pain associated with teething when adult teeth are replacing their baby teeth. This intense chewing phase usually starts around four months and typically lasts two months. Adolescent chewing may follow for six or so months and is a part of how your puppy learns about the world.
Many dogs will continue to chew for life - some dogs enjoy it, while others may chew when bored or anxious.
Acknowledge that your puppy will chew and know that they usually grow out of it, but it's up to you to manage this behaviour if you want to go through this phase with your possessions intact.
You can start to set up good chew habits from the moment you bring your puppy home, and correct puppy management will help you breeze through the chewing phase.
When you are not actively supervising your puppy, confine them somewhere safe so they don't have the opportunity to make mistakes.
- A puppy playpen is very helpful. You can place your puppy in the pen with safe chew toys whenever you are not watching them.
- Crate training also helps to manage chewing and allows you to redirect your puppy's chewing to an appropriate outlet. Give your puppy something safe to chew every time they go into their crate, they will start to associate the crate with chewing time. The crate must always be a positive place, not a place for punishment.
Provide the Right Toys to Chew
Soft toys are not chew toys and can be dangerous if they are chewed up, and pieces swallowed. Play toys with squeakers should never be left unsupervised with puppies as squeakers may be swallowed and can be life-threatening.
Provide chew toys that are specifically designed for chewing and make sure you choose the right size for your puppy - when in doubt, always go up a size. As your puppy grows, you will need to replace their toys to something larger and stronger. If you see them destroying their chew toy, throw it away and buy more robust toys.
Encourage your puppy to use their chew toys by placing their favourite treats inside. Buy a few different chew toys and rotate them to help keep them interested.
Frozen chew toys and ice cubes may also offer your puppy some comfort during the teething phase.
Never punish your puppy for chewing on something that is not theirs – they are acting on instinct and maybe trying to relieve pain.
Whenever your puppy starts chewing an item that isn't their chew toy, quickly replace it with a toy they are allowed to chew. Always make it fun and give lots of praise when they take the appropriate toy.
You can tire your puppy out with age-appropriate exercise, training and daily playtime, and a tired puppy is more likely to sleep than chew.
Your puppy may need a few beds over their lifetime, according to their age and stage and needs. While your puppy is young, and until you learn about their chewing temperament, use a simple bed that is practical and difficult for a puppy to chew. The Snooza TUFF Snuggler - extremely strong with a durable exterior and reversible mat - is a great option.
The Snooza Stay Dry Mat is great for inside crates or play pens, a simple and comfortable vet bed made of very soft absorbent pile, without extra bits hanging off to chew.
Puppies can certainly test our patience but their cuteness definitely makes up for it, and with the right management, it is possible to make it through the chewing phase with minimal damage.