By Emily Larlham
Your puppy is going to chew, so take preventive measures. Wipe Wintergreen Oil on surfaces that you don’t want your puppy to chew on. For example, wood skirting boards, chair legs, table legs, and wires. Do this weekly. Wintergreen oil is an essential oil sold at places like Whole Foods that has a minty smell that dogs are not attracted to. Remember it is an oil, so don’t use it on fabric as it stains. I like to use the oil to associate all the things in the house that are inedible with a similar odor.
NEVER spray or put anything in your dog’s mouth as punishment. It is cruel and can cause your dog not to trust you. What you are doing is simply making the things you don’t want your dog to chew in your house less desirable to chew.
Puppy-proof the house and yard. Make sure there are no dangerous or exposed cables and wires. Wires can be encased with special tubing and electrical sockets can be plugged with baby-proof plugs.
When a puppy chews on an inappropriate item, do not scold him as this can cause him not only to find being around you punishing, but he can quickly make the association that chewing on things when a human is in the room is a bad idea but when humans are gone it is perfectly acceptable. If you never scold your dog as you interrupt chewing, you are more likely to catch your dog doing inappropriate chewing and can redirect him to something appropriate and get rid of the problem behavior faster. Scolding can also make puppies not want to chew on appropriate items, like chew toys, for fear of being punished, and because puppies need to chew when they are teething, this can cause other behavioral issues to crop up.
When a puppy chews on an inappropriate item, simply use an attention noise, or the Positive Interrupter noise to interrupt the behavior and redirect the puppy’s attention to something else.
A complete video tutorial on how to train the Positive Interrupter noise to interrupt behavior:
Simply relying on interrupting behavior to make it go away will not work. This is because if you ONLY pay attention to your puppy when he is chewing on something inappropriate, he will learn to do that to get your attention. So always remember to give your puppy attention when he is being PERFECT and doing nothing, in conjunction with interrupting him for chewing on inappropriate items. Make sure you give your puppy tasty chews for sleeping in his bed and NOT when he suddenly starts chewing on the walls!
You will need to keep your eyes on your new puppy or rescue dog 100% of the time he is loose in your house, until your puppy is trusted to not to chew on inappropriate items. You can do this by having your pup on a leash and a harness to keep him near you or having him in the same room as you, where you can always see him. When you are busy and unable to watch your puppy, you can put him in a pen where he cannot make any mistakes. Watching your puppy like a hawk when he is loose is also a great idea when teaching him where it is appropriate to go to the bathroom.
The handler of this Golden Retriever puppy, pictured to the right, has brought her puppy to an indoor café where dogs are allowed, for some socialization. She is using management by providing the puppy with appropriate items to chew on so the puppy won’t learn to make mistakes, like chewing on the table legs, while she is distracted with her coffee.
Puppies need to chew as they loose their baby teeth and their adult teeth set. This can take up to 12 months. Provide them with enough items to chew to help them through this hard stage in their lives.
Tip: Only have 3-6 toys out in your house at a time. By having too many toys out at a time, the puppy can make the connection that anything on the floor is fair game to be chewed and played with. Rotate toys to make them more interesting.