Dear Canine Foundations;
Help! Our beautiful home is slowly but surely being consumed by our 5 month old Yellow Lab. It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether I’m in the room or not. I’ve even used anti- chewing sprays, like bitter apple. He just gnaws away at anything he can find; the carpet, shoes, the sofa. Lately, his main focus has been wood; the baseboards, kitchen table, chairs, the list goes on. I’m tired of coming home every day to destruction and having a home that looks like we have a pet beaver rather then a dog. What can we do to save our home and our sanity?
The Wood Chipper
Dear Wood chipper,
Chewing is a natural part of the teething process for puppies, and with a 5 month old lab it’s no wonder that your home is looking like a beaver moved in. The good news is that even with the most determined chewers, we can modify this behaviour and save your home from ultimate destruction. The three key components in doing so are; crating your puppy any time you are not home or unable to monitor his activities, monitoring your puppy carefully while he has roam of the house and offering him satisfying alternatives to your worldly possessions. Puppies who are very active chewers should not have anything that could turn into a choking hazard in the crate with them. Items such as, soft plastic or stuffed toys can be easily destroyed, ingested and cause serious health problems. Items that are safe to leave in the crate with your puppy are; hard rubber (Kong) toys, teething rings and hard rubber or real bones.
Keep your personal items, such as; shoes, clothes, children’s toys, etc., out of reach from your puppy and watch him closely while he has free roam of the house. As soon as you see him chewing on an inappropriate item, such as your sofa, give him a verbal correction (hey!) and trade him for something he is permitted to have, like a teething ring. When you see your puppy chewing on appropriate items (his toys) give him lots of praise and love. Teaching your dog the command to ‘leave it’ would also help in this department. Consistency and vigilance is the only way to win this war.
A great way to help elevate the pain of teething is to provide your puppy with cold or frozen items such as; apples, ice cubes and teething toys that have been left in the freezer. Add a little peanut butter to his Kong, put it into the freezer overnight and now you have a great tasting, gum numbing teething toy that will not only help the pain but provide him with some mental stimulation. If the chewing persists beyond 8 to 9 months of age or appears to be worse when you are not home, then it’s possible that you may be looking at separation distress or anxiety. If this is the case, it would require a completely different approach. Of course, learning Canine First Aid is essential for assisting our active chewers should they consume something dangerous for them.