Puppy, Get That out of Your Mouth!

By Joan Hunter Mayer for Exceptional Canine

Puppy, Get That out of Your Mouth!

Kids and puppies have so much in common. Everything they touch goes into their mouths. Puppies are born to chew, and some are the canine equivalents of a buzz saw. You can expect young puppies to chew more when they're teething than when they become adolescents. So as a puppy parent, you need to puppy-proof your home and yard to prevent your pet from chewing on and/or swallowing anything that can harm him and to prevent the destruction of household goods.

Set up Your Puppy for Success

As the saying goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Provide plenty of dog-friendly chewable items, such as puppy biscuits and non-splintering puppy teething bones. You might need to experiment to see what is the most appealing, safe and healthy for your puppy. As a certified trainer and dog mom, I'm personally a big fan of food-stuffable toys and natural chewables such as bully sticks and antlers. When your puppy does chew on an approved item, don't forget to acknowledge his good choice with lots of praise and/or an extra yummy treat.

Prevention Is Better Than the Consequences

It's easier to prevent your puppy from chewing on forbidden items if everyone in your household picks up after themselves and puts away anything they don't want puppy to investigate. As another famous saying advises, "Lead them not into temptation."

If you see your puppy chewing or licking household goods you can't stash away, such as furniture and walls, immediately interrupt and redirect him to a more appropriate chewable goody. Then remember to reward him with lots of praise when he ignores the off-limits articles.

I can't stress the importance of keeping your eyes and attention on the puppy, just as you would a young child. Don't let him aimlessly wander about the house or yard without supervision until you're sure he has learned what's expected of him. Crating and/or confinement are helpful during this training process.

Do You Need the Veterinarian?

What if your puppy chews on and ingests something he shouldn't? How do you know if you need the veterinarian? I'm not a veterinarian, but as a dog mom, I would start off by assessing the puppy's airway and breathing to see if there's an emergency situation. You should also seek immediate medical attention if you're not sure whether the item the puppy swallowed is poisonous. Always keep an animal poison control number handy because some foods or medicines that are safe for people — such as chocolate and acetaminophen — can be toxic to dogs. The Animal Poison Control Center hotline can be reached 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at 888-426-4435. (You might be charged a $65 consultation fee.) If in doubt, always call your veterinarian.

Chewing Is Normal!

Puppy parents need to remember that chewing is normal behavior for dogs. Manage it by providing appropriate outlets and reward your puppy for making the better choice. I encourage you to concentrate on the right behavior, learn from what you've done in the past and check with your veterinarian if you have any doubt about what items puppy can chew.

Exceptional Canine expert Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified professional dog trainer and founder of the Inquisitive Canine, a dog training service in Ventura and Santa Barbara, Calif. Her methods empower dog owners with education designed to help develop and enhance their relationships with their dogs.