One day your sweet ball of fluff may start to become a chewing machine.  Nothing is safe any longer! Your couch, shoes, chairs, chargers, and even your own ankles may be getting a makeover from your puppy!

I wanted to write up a helpful guide in handling this stage of puppyhood.  I hope you find it helpful! Please feel free to post in the comments if you have any other questions.

*Please note, I am addressing the chewing phase of a puppy, not the aggressive biting behavior of an adult dog.  If your dog is biting other dogs or people please get into contact with a local dog trainer immediately.

Our sweet helper with the puppies

First things first:

Your mindset and understanding your puppy is the first thing I want to talk about.  Be assured that this is normal and only a phase.  Many times people are concerned that this is an indication of aggressive behavior.  Most of the time this is not the case.  Romping around with their litter mates is a normal and healthy part of a puppies development.  If you think about how they play with each other: wrestling, biting, growling, chasing, you can see that this behavior is not aggressive but playful.  Like human babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths by biting, licking, chewing and tasting. Even as adults, the mouth plays a much more important sensory role for dogs than for humans. It’s how dogs experience and understand the surroundings. However, with your puppy getting bigger and bigger it is understandable that you would like your furniture and family members to be left alone.

The process of getting adult teeth in dogs takes at least 6 months. It starts when puppies are between 4-6 months old. That’s not the end of it, though. It can take as long as 18 months for the new teeth to set in your puppy. That can be a very irritating experience for some dogs, and chewing is a natural way for them to deal with that. It takes training to teach puppies and dogs how to limit the use of their mouths to what’s acceptable to their owners, but you need to see mouth use as natural and fundamental to dog behavior.

I always recommend that you take a step back and see this phase of puppy hood as a teaching opportunity. Each time you work on correcting their chewing behavior in a firm but loving way, pat yourself on the back! Know that you are raising up a loving pup that will know what is expected of them. And give yourself and your puppy time.  This is a temporary phase, but one they must go through.

What you can do:

  1. Puppy proof your home.  Before working with your puppy during this stage of chewing, make sure your home is an environment where they can succeed.  Just like with a crawling baby, you want to temporarily adjust some things around the house.  Read more ideas on how to puppy proof your home in How to Puppy Proof Your Home.
    I like to switch out my rugs to ones I don’t care about so they don’t get eaten. 

  2. Increase exercise by 5 minutes.  A puppy that has lots of energy and is bored is going to be chewing on your house much more than a pup who has been exercised properly.  As a general guide, your puppy should get 5min/month old a couple of times a day.  For example, if you have a 3 month old puppy, they need 15 minutes of exercise 2x/day.  Most people give me feedback that they lose track and forget to increase as the puppy gets older.  It is nice to get into a rhythm but once you start seeing that chewing take a look at the calendar and see if it’s time to increase.
    1. This increase can be a five minute longer walk, longer playing fetch, or whatever kind of exercise you are doing with you pup.  Just get them moving!
      Going for a nice walk with my littles

  3. Teach them new tricks. Dogs love to be engaged mentally.  I always recommend people work with a professional trainer because who they are really training is you! They will work with you to show you how to best communicate with your dog.  Learning to speak your dogs language will help them understand what you are asking of them.  It is also stimulating for them and keeps them from getting bored.
    1. In addition, take 10 min at time to work on old and new tricks at home. I love the book 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance. It also comes in a fun version for kids! 101tricks.png
    2. For more books on dog training here are my Top 5 Favorite Dog Training Books
    3. Specifically to help with teaching them not to chew, teach them the “drop it command.” Use the “drop it” command (as shown in this video on basic commands) frequently to give him lots of practice. You can easily combine it with a game of fetch, which can benefit you and your canine on many different levels: train him, exercise him and stimulate him mentally to keep your dog exhausted and tired, not wanting to chew on anything.
      Handsome Cooper

  4. Deter them from chewing valuable things. One way to naturally discourage them from wanting to chew your valuable couch is to spray it with Bitter Apple Spray. This is a safe and non-toxic spray that is bitter tasting to dogs.  Without having to say a word, your dog will not want to bite whatever you spray this on.  It’s also good to have on hand after they grow out of this phase and can be used on hot spots.  The one I’ve linked here is safe to use on all surfaces.  Be sure to check any ingredients of any type of bitter spray before spraying your nice furniture! This will need to be reapplied as it wears off.bitterapplespray
    1. For Children and adults DO NOT USE THE BITTER APPLE SPRAY!! Dogs are often wanting to chew on little kids’ clothes and hands as well as adult ankles and hands.  But this spray is HORRIBLE tasting so you do not want to spray it on humans to avoid accidentally getting it in your mouth.  Instead, use Listerine Spray.  Spray this on kids’ hands and clothes as well as yourself.  f it accidentally gets into your mouth it’s just refreshing! And without any disciplinary action required, your pup will try (maybe a few times) and learn all on their own they DO NOT want to bite you guys.  Reapply as needed until the chewing phase is over. listerine

  5. Provide appropriate and a variety of chew toys. Having their own toys they can chew on will help them meet their need in an appropriate way.  Be sure to have a variety and study your pup to find out what they like.  For this stage I recommend getting the variety pack from Amazonvarietypack
    1. Approach them with a chew toy in hand.  Oral attention is a sign of affection from dogs.  So when you’re going to pet them and they try to get your hand, its not necessarily a sign of aggression, but love and affection.  Teach them what is appropriate to chew on by going to them with a toy in your hand. As they grab the toy, you can pet them with the other hand.  This is a great technique for kids too!

  6. Gently make chewing on hands uncomfortable. After all of these previous steps have been taken, if your puppy does chew on your hand, immediately do the following technique:
    1. place your pointer finger and thumb on the corners of their mouth to open the puppy’s mouth.
    2. place your other thumb on the top of their tongue
    3. gently squeeze.  You should see them retract and be uncomfortable but never squeeze so hard that they whimper.  It doesn’t take a lot of pressure for that to feel uncomfortable.
    4. If this takes more than 3-4 seconds to make it happen then stop and try to catch it next time.  Dogs will only understand this being related if it happens immediately.

  7. Place them in a safer spot. While puppy training, I highly recommend keeping a small dog play pen up.  I keep mine on our tile floor so any messes made can easily be picked up.  I like to have a small dog bed, and some chew toys in there.  If you find your exercised, trained, puppy chewing beyond the bitter spray I would pick them up and place them in the dog pen.  Sometimes the time just has to pass.  This will be a confined area where your puppy is safe to chew on appropriate things and cannot get to the other things you would like to keep safe. Don’t say anything as you do this and do not give them eye contact.  Simply pick them up and place them in the pen.
    Contentment win! Dishes, here I come!
    1. I will use this pen also for times when I can’t be watching the puppy to make sure they aren’t chewing.  For example, when I’m cooking dinner, putting my toddler down for bed, or taking a shower.
    2. Sometimes puppy’s will bark on whine when being put in the pen.  I first use the clicker training method to work on contentment training to help teach them to contentment in the pen.  You can find all kinds of good videos about it on YouTube.  I learned most of my knowledge from this great book: Clicker Training For Dogs by Karen Pryor.clicker

8. Make sure they are getting sufficient nutrition.  A dog who is hungry is going to be more likely to want to chew on other things.  Normal dog food does not always contain all that a dog needs.  We use a daily vitamin along with Life’s Abundance dog food.  This combination has worked wonderfully for raising our puppies and comes with my highest recommendation.

*To order the Nuvet vitamins we use, check out their website: Nuvet Vitamins.  And use code: 91207 to order.

If you have any problems after following these steps or any questions please feel free to comment below.  I would also love to hear any success stories! Feel free to share encouragement for others going through this stage.

Happy training!


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