Learn the R.E.S.T. Method – or…The Taming of the Chewing Puppy
Did you adopt Lassie or the Tasmanian Devil? While a new puppy is cute and cuddly, things can go crazy pretty quickly! Before you know it, you can have a mini-tornado on your hands; a whirling dervish of chewing and biting with furniture stuffing flying around and shoes left totally personalized by your little fuzzy family member.
Puppies love to bite and chew whatever they can find. It’s no wonder, since from birth it’s a major part of their lifestyle and communication. A new puppy will play around biting other puppies and their parents all day long. It’s how they have fun, it’s how they learn what’s what, and it’s how they learn their limits. It’s not surprising then, that your little puppy wants to chew on your things and you, too. And, it gets more intense as they start to teethe.
How to you tame the chewing puppy? There are a number of things you can do to encourage your puppy to curb this behavior without deterring the puppy’s playful nature, or the need to chew. When your puppy is trying to chew or bite on things, just remember this training tip – R.E.S.T.
- Replace – Instead of furniture, shoes, and you, allow your puppy to chew on toys you’ve bought for such a purpose. There are rawhide bones, plastic bones, ropes and other toys and treats made for chewing. Make sure puppy knows where to find them and that they are always available when the urge to chew hits. Just saying ‘no’ to chewing doesn’t work; puppy needs a replacement. Be careful when using rawhide bones. There are different schools of thought on these; discuss with your vet before giving them to your puppy. Also, natural bones which we used to get directly from the store or from the butcher can splinter and cause a world of problems with your puppy.
- Energize – Is puppy trying to bite you to play? Instead of constantly scolding him, you need to energize puppy with some playful games. Wrestle around, chase around, or throw a ball to fetch. He’s got energy and he wants to use it. Have fun while playing around with puppy so he’s distracted, happy, and forgets he even wanted to bite. The bonus is all that playing around burns energy and the little darling may even take a nap. Another caution…playing tug of war with your puppy is not recommended. It teaches him how strong he is, and can lead to other more aggressive behavior down the road.
- Settle – Sometimes, when puppies get overexcited, they start to nip and bite. You will know when your playful puppy goes from fun to frantic when he or she starts nipping again, and perhaps panting. Calm down your puppy by gently holding and petting rhythmically, keeping the puppy in one position, preferably down on his or her side. Don’t push your puppy away as this will only translate into another game, inciting the puppy’s instinct to play. Lower your voice, keep is soft…no yelling! Calm your motions, and wait until your puppy settles before you play again.
- Trap – If you let a young puppy have free-run of your home, you are apt to find it difficult to control the chewing. It’s a better idea to designate an area and gate it off so that you can keep only puppy-friendly materials in there. This will prevent you from going crazy chasing after puppy trying to stop the chewing. It will also eliminate stress on the puppy, constantly being reprimanded for chewing when that’s all a puppy wants to do. Fill your puppy-friendly place with lots of chew toys so you both can relax.
It’s hard for a puppy to give up chewing and biting just for you and your sanity. It’s up to you to teach your puppy that this is not acceptable to do on certain things. It may take some time, but your puppy will learn what can and cannot be chewed. With these four simple tips – Replace, Energize, Settle, Trap – you and your puppy will come to an understanding and enjoy a long, wonderful friendship.
To Your Dog’s Good Health!