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Chewing advice

April 1st, 2009, 09:14 AM
Recently, my family got a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. We've had her for about two weeks now and she's 12 weeks old. Housetraining is going good, she sleeps in her crate all night with no problems besides the occasional bathroom demand at 4 AM, and she's starting to understand what we mean when we tell her to Sit and Lay Down.

BUT.... She's a horrible chewer. She mostly wants to chew everything leather based like shoes and my mother's purse straps, but she also wants to chew up our fingers, socks, T-shirts, a fern plant, hard plastic gardening clogs, and Crocs as well. Whenever we see her chewing something she shouldn't we immediately take it away and give her one of her rawhide chews instead, but you can tell she'd much rather chew the shoe you just took instead.

Our major concern is that this is not just puppy teething, but we're somehow reinforcing this bad behavior. She's recently started going on the hunt for chewing items; diving under the beds to find the long forgotten sock. Today she managed to somehow yank my mother's purse off the table today for a good chew! We always tell her NO when we take the bad chew item, but she likes them so much better then any of the toys we buy her.

For toys we've been getting her rawhide sticks, a couple of beef bones from the butcher, and a wide assortments of stuffed squeaky toys that are currently in varying stages of being ripped to pieces. She also had been destroying our cat's toys with chewing but he's managed to collect all his toys and brought them into the basement where she can't go.

So... Is it just a normal faze or are we going to have to take drastic action before this becomes learned behavior?

Gail P
April 1st, 2009, 10:50 AM
Completely normal and it sounds like you're handling it the right way. One tip, when you substitute an appropriate toy/chew, don't just give it to her but engage her with it. Depending on what it is, wiggle it around, squeak it, roll it, toss it...anything to make her think it's fun and when she becomes engaged with it give her lots of praise. Okay, 2 tips actually. The other thing is to of course keep everything she shouldn't have out of reach and/or under direct supervision while she's very young and until she's done teething. eg. shoes in the closet instead of on a boot tray near the door, stuff tidied up and not left laying within easy reach. I'll admit, my house is a terrible clutter of junk all over the place, but even with 8 dogs they've learned to distinguish what is and what is not appropriate for them to play with and chew on. They've got a bin of toys and bones that stays under the coffee table and they know not to touch other stuff that is sitting up on top of any tables or the bench inside our front door where I'm always dumping gloves/hats/whatever.

April 1st, 2009, 10:59 AM
Hi Mimzy,

Please remove rawhide from your pup. The smell of leather cannot be differeniated between rawhide and shoes for pups. Regardless, these are not the best things to give to a young dog.

Also, I do not recommend plush toys....again hard for them to not associate the plush toy and a throw pillow.

Give the pup a nylon bone and encourage the play with this instead. Best of luck to you.

April 1st, 2009, 02:13 PM
Chewing is pretty normal from when you bring them home, till when they're done teething. Teething itself can start anywhere from 3 months and continue into the 7th month. When they're that young, they are constantly learning. They explore everything through their senses, including taste. They're learning what everything smells like, feels like, and that includes your shoes. They don't know the difference between your sock and an expensive pair of shoes, so I would suggest that if you don't want it chewed, put it away, for your sanity, and also their safety.

How many toys do you have out at a time? I would recommend no more than 2-3 at a time, that way it's easier to differentiate between what is yours and what is theirs. Find a ball that squeaks, most squeaky plush toys are asking to be chewed apart because they want to get that squeaker out. Giggle balls are great, they are made of kong material, the noise is less annoying, and they love them! For teething, get an old washcloth/dishcloth, wet it, twist it, throw it in a ziplock and freeze it. Do this for more than one, so when one melts, you have one to replace it with. All you have to do when she's done with it is rinse, twist, and freeze again.

This is also a great time to teach "drop it". Every time she gets ahold of something she's not supposed to, tell her to drop it, and take it away. If she gets mouthy with you guys while you're playing, say ouch, and end play. This starts to teach her how to be more gentle. Chews that are good are the beef chews and bully sticks. Stay away from pig ears, as they are super fatty. Like BenMax said, rawhides are bad, the pieces that get ingested can swell in the stomach and cause problems. Stay away from tennis balls, as the yellow felt can wear away at the enamel on their teeth. Rope toys are good, but I'd recommend supervision with it, as you want to be sure they're not ingesting any strings that break off. Some plush toys are ok, but I'd stay away if your dog wants to rip them apart. We were fans of the hedgehog or squirrel toys, as it took a while before ours decided to rip them apart. Even just kicking a soccer ball around, playing "keep away" is fun. Basically you kick it around, bouncing it off the walls, etc, keeping it away from her as long as you can, and seeing how long it takes for her to get it away from you. We do this with a smaller ball, and I think I'm up to about 30 seconds. Laser pointers are fun to play with, they typically really like ice cubes as well. Lots of fun!

April 1st, 2009, 03:54 PM
If you really like the soft toys, try the Tuffy toys:

I have a dog that will shred a stuffed toy within seconds of giving it to him - the only stuffed toy in my house that has survived is the Tuffy Ring - which is rated a 10 for toughness.

I recently had a puppy stay at my house overnight - an 11 month old giant newf puppy, lol - and I had forgotten how much trouble a puppy can get into. Of course he could get himself into much more trouble since nothing on the counters or table was safe - but it quickly reminded me to keep stuff picked up unless you wanted it destroyed.

April 1st, 2009, 04:04 PM
Congrats on your new puppy!! Everyone has given really great suggestions. The only thing I can think to tell you that has not yet been mentioned, is that aside from keeping everything she shouldn't chew out of reach (at least through these teething stages) you're going to want to keep all of her own toys and bones (and the cats) up and out of range for her as well.

Often times when a puppy has ALL THESE AMAZING TOYS at their own reach and discretion, it can lead to a lot of confusion - they can't tell what is their's, and what is not. I suggest getting a couple of baskets or bins and keeping all the toys in those - when you want to play with your puppy (or if she's excited/hyper and showing you she wants to play with you), bring out a couple of toys and engage her with them.

This is also going to help her learn that YOU are the one that decides what she can play/chew with. And just remember to be consistant with play-time. A bored puppy will always get into mischief and look for something to entertain herself with.
Making fun games for her that make her work for her toys (making her look for the toy that you hide) also work her mind instead of just her body. It also helps her learn that she can play with the toy, and you, without having to be physical with you and your fingers.

Good luck, keep us posted!