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Mon-Fri 8 to 5:30
Sat. by appointment only

31310 Woodhaven Trail
Cannon Falls, MN 55009

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651-258-4050 office
651-258-4051 fax
651-222-0885 Twin Cities


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Destructive Chewing

There are many reasons why puppies and dogs chew. Puppies utilize their vision and sense of smell to explore their new world; however (between 2 and 6 months of age) they chew on things to relieve teething discomfort and to orally investigate new items within their surroundings. What starts out as a dental issue or investigative chewing process soon becomes a habit. This normal behavior is often directed towards unacceptable household objects. Adult dogs chew to keep their teeth healthy and their gums free of infection. They also chew because they experience separation anxiety, stress, boredom, fear, hunger, noise phobias, medical issues or confinement problems. Other reasons may be the lack of sufficient exercise or inadequate mental stimulation or possibly an act of dominance. Destructive chewing by young dogs is usually a management issue and persistent household damage reflects a lack of training or control by their owner. We recommend the following suggestions:

Managing your environment

  • Be responsible for your own belongings. “Dog proof” your home. If you do not want your puppy to chew on something—put it up or away. Keep your clothing, shoes, books, eye glasses, remote controls or anything of value out of their reach.
  • Do not confuse your puppy by offering them your shoe or socks for a toy. They can not distinguish between their shoe or socks and yours. Provide them with lots of chew toys, bones, and educational toys that are clearly distinguishable from household items.
  • If you are unable to watch your puppy -- crate them, confine them to the room you are in, or attach one end of a leash to them and the other end to yourself. If they are heading towards an inappropriate object—call them to you and hand them a toy that they can chew on. Timing is critical.
  • Provide your puppy with plenty of socialization time. You should teach them how you expect them to act (appropriate behavior) in different situations.
  • When you catch your puppy chewing on an inappropriate object, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise; replace it with an acceptable chew toy. Then praise them when they take the acceptable toy in their mouth.
  • Reward or praise them when they are playing quiet or chewing on their appropriate toys.
  • Play with your puppy on a daily basis. To burn off excess energy, teach them to “fetch”, jump thru a hoola hoop, or over a stick
  • Take them for walks on leash. Expose them to the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. Encourage children, friends and neighbors to handle them and give them treats.
  • Consider a good doggie daycare program for two to three days per week to properly socialize your puppy and to work off their excess energy.
  • Teach the command “give it” or “not yours”. If they pick up an inappropriate object, use the command and praise them for complying. The best way to teach compliance is by practicing the exchange of a toy for a treat.
  • Provide positive reinforcement with praise for correctly responding. They should not have to misbehave to get your attention.
  • Sign them up for a structured obedience class that promotes positive reinforcement.
  • CVS recommends constant supervision while your puppy is loose in your house. Until he/she knows what it can or cannot chew, it should not have unsupervised freedom. Total confinement is not the cure for inappropriate chewing. Breaking the habit is essential. The most important thing you can do is to praise and reward your puppy for chewing on their toys and appropriate items. A good suggestion to maintain your puppy’s attention and to provide hours of fun is to fill a Kong with peanut butter and dog food.

Please know that dogs do not understand the concept of guilt and do not chew on things out of spite. These are human concepts, not a dog’s. If you catch a dog in the act of chewing on an unacceptable item, immediately correct them with “leave it" or "not yours” and give them an appropriate item such as a dog toy. Give praise when they pick up the toy. With a few repetitions, the dog will seek out their own toys. Teach your dog to choose their acceptable items to chew on.


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