The reason puppies seem to eat everything is because they’re teething. Your puppy will stop eating everything when they are done teething. For most puppies, this will stop between the ages of 6-10 months.
Our new puppy destroyed my favorite shoes. It wasn’t even both shoes. He only picked one to chew up, so I would have its pair as a reminder of what I had lost.
It felt personal. But not as personal as when my husband found him snacking on his phone. The puppy was happily gnawing away at the Samsung between his front paws while the screen shattered a little more with every satisfying crunch.
It took a few deep breaths, and a reminder that the puppy didn’t know any better, for each of us to calm down. He was teething, and it was our responsibility to make sure he didn’t get into trouble. We had obviously failed.
I think everyone who has raised a puppy has had one of these “oh no” moments at some point. With our first puppy, it was realizing that he had found a way to cure his boredom when we were at work… by destroying the one and only upholstered chair that was left in his reach. There was fabric and stuffing everywhere.
It can be very frustrating, not to mention expensive, and even dangerous for your pup when they are given a chance to be destructive. But there are things you can do to help minimize the damage and make sure they will grow out of it.
Why Do Puppies Eat? Everything?
Puppies, much like babies, use their mouth to learn about the world around them. When they discover new objects, their mouth helps them decide whether it is a tasty treat, a fun toy to chew on, or something bad to stay away from.
They are also teething, which can be very painful. As they lose their baby teeth and gain their adult set, puppies chew to relieve pain.
Many puppies also like to chew things that smell like us. Our socks and shoes not only feel good on their sore gums, but also comfort them when we’re away.
It’s our job to teach them what is acceptable to chew and ensure that safe options are available for them to prevent damage or injury.
Chewing can actually be good for dogs if they learn to direct it toward appropriate objects like toys and bones. It helps dogs maintain their jaw strength and keeps their teeth clean of buildup.
Many dogs continue to chew, even when they’re older, to ease anxiety or relieve boredom, which is good when it is focused on a rope toy rather than your couch.
When Do Puppies Stop Eating Everything?
The simple answer is when they’re done teething. Puppy teething usually takes place between four and six months of age. But even after all of their adult teeth have come in, the destructive chewing can continue into adolescence.
Around 8-10-months old, your puppy may push his limits, acting more stubborn and disobeying commands you know he understands. It’s a good idea to continue keeping a close eye on your puppy through this teenage period as well.
Prevent the Destruction From Chewing
The easiest way to keep your puppy out of trouble is to make sure he can’t get to anything he shouldn’t have.
Laundry, cleaning supplies, food, the TV remote, children’s toys, anything the puppy shouldn’t chew on or eat should not be within reach because it all looks like a fun new toy to him.
Pay attention not only to items that you wouldn’t want destroyed, but also to the ones that could harm your pup.
If you have things like rat poison or antifreeze in your garage, keep your puppy out of there. Don’t allow your puppy to chew on or play with small objects that could cause a choking hazard or blockage of their digestive system. Some puppies like to chew on rocks or sticks, which can be dangerous if swallowed.
Ideally, you should puppy-proof your house before you bring the little one home. Puppies are quick and mischievous. You don’t want to get distracted when playing with him, only to realize that he has made it into the bathroom and shredded the entire roll of toilet paper in your living room.
Pick a place for your puppy to be confined when he’s not being supervised, one that’s free of anything that’s not puppy approved.
If you don’t have a separate room that can be closed off, playpens and puppy gates are an excellent way to restrict access to certain areas of the house that are off-limits.
Many people also choose to crate-train their puppy so that they can have a safe place to hang out on their own.
Teach Your Pup What is OK to Chew
Your puppy will need things to chew on while teething, but you can teach him from the beginning what he can and can’t chew on.
Have the puppy’s area stocked with various chew toys and switch them out every couple of days to keep him from getting bored.
If your puppy gets a hold of something that he shouldn’t have, like your slipper, correct the behavior, and replace the bad item with a good one that he is allowed to chew on.
As he gets older, you can also teach your puppy commands like “No,” “Drop it,” and “Leave it” when he has, or is thinking about taking, something that he shouldn’t.
Another way to teach your puppy that he can’t chew on something is to use a chewing deterrent spray. These have a terrible taste, like bitter apple, to train your pup into thinking that this item is not something he wants in his mouth.
Sprays are great for wood furniture or other things that are not easy to take away from your puppy.
After a few weeks of consistently spraying the object, most puppies will learn to leave it alone. But make sure you test it out with your dog first because some do actually like the taste. So instead of discouraging him from chewing, you might do the opposite.
Help Your Puppy Through the Chewing Phase
Besides training and minimizing access to off-limit items, you can also try to make your puppy’s chew toys work even harder.
Popping a chew toy in the freezer before giving it to your puppy is a great way to help combat their teething pain. The cold toy helps to numb your puppy’s gums as they chew.
You can get the same effect from ice cubes. Ice is a cheap way to provide your puppy some teething pain relief while also helping them stay hydrated.
If all else fails, tire him out. It is amazing how well-behaved a tired puppy can be. If he is so tired from playing that he can’t do much more than sleep, then he’s very unlikely to get into trouble.
Help your puppy deal with teething, boredom, or anxiety-related chewing by giving him lots of exercise. Try to get all of his extra energy out and play with him before he’s left alone. This holds just as true for older dogs who might have a bad chewing habit.
The most important thing you can do for your puppy when he is teething and learning what he can chew is to be calm, firm, and consistent.
If he makes a mistake, be patient, but don’t let him slide. Allowing him to chew on a certain pair of shoes but not another will just confuse him. Don’t punish him when you come home hours later to find that he completely destroyed the couch cushions. He won’t know what you’re mad about, and the only thing he’ll learn is to be afraid of you.
By maintaining a safe environment for your puppy and training him from the start, you will get through this chewing phase with minimal destruction.
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