Skip to main content

How to stop a puppy chewing

how to stop a puppy chewing? Puppy playing with a rope toy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Puppies chew, that's a fact. Most of the time it's completely normal for puppies (and dogs) to chew, as it's a way they explore their surroundings. Young puppies chew to help relieve pain from teething, while older dogs chew to help keep teeth clean. Chewing also helps keeps puppies and dogs entertained, and can help with mild boredom or anxiety.

But what if your puppy is chewing too much? And what if they ignore the best puppy toys you bought them in favor of your furniture. Don't fret, just because you've found some gnaw marks on your favorite sneakers doesn't mean we can't fix this! Read on for how to stop a puppy chewing and more details on why they chew in the first place. 

Why do puppies chew?

There are several reasons why your puppy may be chewing on things, some more benign than others. As mentioned above, puppies usually chew while their adult teeth are growing in as a way to alleviate pain. That kind of chewing can usually be abated with the best teething toys for puppies.

If you believe your puppy is chewing for reasons aside from normal teething behavior, you should consult your vet. Here are a few reasons why your puppy might be excessively chewing. 

Separation Anxiety

According to the ASPCA, dogs may chew to relieve stress from separation anxiety. These dogs will likely only chew when they're alone, or will chew much more intensely alone than when there are humans around. Dogs who are chewing because of separation anxiety will likely show other signs of it, like restlessness, pacing, urinating on the floor, and more. 

Early weaning

Some puppies and dogs suckle or chew on fabrics, which experts suggest is a behavior resulting from having been weaned too early from their mother (usually before eight week sold). If a puppy is frequently sucking or chewing on fabric and you can't get them to stop, they may be exhibiting a compulsive behavior problem. ASPCA has ways to find professional behavior help that will help alleviate this, as it's something that should be left to the experts. 

Hunger

Make sure you are feeding your puppy enough to ensure they aren't hungry and chewing on things to satiate that need. Consult your vet for how to feed your puppy an appropriate diet and ensure you buy the best puppy food for your dogs needs.

How to stop a puppy chewing

1. Determine the cause

best teething toys for puppies

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Consult the list above to determine what may be causing your puppy to chew. Is it just a normal teething behavior? A sign of separation anxiety? A side-effect of early weaning? If you're still not sure, reach out to your vet to rule out any health issues. 

There are some ways of dealing with separation anxiety, but you may want to consult a veterinarian and/or a behaviorist. 

2. Give puppies cheap chew-safe options you have at home

If your puppy is just doing some normal chewing, there are ways to ensure they're chewing safely. When puppy chewing is at its most intense (usually before they reach six months), there are homemade puppy teething toys you can create from things around the home. Ice cubes and frozen washcloths are great options that will soothe while they chew, and you can redirect from chewing something they shouldn't by handing them an ice cube or washcloth.

3. Give your puppy plenty of bones/chews

puppy kong

(Image credit: Kong)

Ice and washcloths are great, but you should also invest in bones and other chew toys. You can also use the longest lasting dog chews, but you should make sure they are puppy safe before handing them out. Offering them edible things to chew will satisfy the chewing cravings as well as their hunger, but make sure you supervise when they're chewing. Some chews can break off into smaller pieces that can pose a choking hazard. Be aware of the differences between rawhide vs. beefhide chews and never give animal bones leftover from meals. Look for dog-safe edible and inedible bones at your local pet store, and consider other chews like dog-safe ropes and Kong toys. 

You can use toys as a way of taking their attention away from something they shouldn't be chewing. Hand them a toy as they're gnawing away at something they shouldn't, and be prepared to reward them with a treat if they turn their attention to the chewable object.

4. Spray a bitter flavor on chewed items

The trick is to make the items your puppy is chewing unpleasant to them. You can coat furniture or other items with a dog-safe taste deterrent like Bitter Apple to make them not-so-tasty to your pup. Your dog may still persist and chew through the bad taste, so make sure you supervise them the first time you use it. You'll also need to reapply this deterrent in order for it to keep working.

5. Puppy-proof your home

Your puppy will likely still chew something they're not supposed to, so it's important that you puppy-proof (and dog-proof) your home to avoid them chewing anything dangerous or ruining anything that's expensive. 

Part of puppy-proofing your home is simple: take care of your own belongings. Put things away that you would not want in your dog's mouth like shoes, clothes, trash, books, and more. Get a tamper-proof garbage pail and put away items that may intrigue them, or block access to rooms that have objects in them that look especially chewable to your pup.

6. Be patient 

Puppies chew, it's what they do, so make sure you set realistic expectations and goals. It's very rare to find a dog owner whose dog didn't chew something they weren't supposed to, so try not to get discouraged if there's an incident. Remember, too, that yelling or otherwise punishing your puppy will not work - use positive reinforcement instead. 

Well, there you have it. That's how to stop a puppy chewing!