Best Critter Corner: My partner and I just adopted a new puppy and she was wonderful with one exception. If we leave her alone, she will constantly chew on things she shouldn’t and cost us a lot of money in damage. We love her, but we are frustrated by this behavior. What can we do?
Destructive chewing can be one of the most frustrating and costly problems for both humans and dogs. For starters, make sure to “puppy-proof” your home as best you can. Place anything of value high and out of your pup’s reach, don’t leave anything lying around haphazardly, and make sure all cables are tucked securely against the walls. For most dogs, as long as it’s above their eye level and not a high value (from their perspective, not yours), you’re safe.
For aggressive chewers, make sure you have plenty of appropriate chew toys for your dog, and praise them when they chew them. If you catch your dog chewing something inappropriate, give him a stern “uh-uh,” remove the object, and redirect him to the appropriate chew. Food-based chews are often the most effective, but can be expensive, and don’t expect more than an hour or two of peace and quiet from even the best.
Here are some fun and inexpensive enrichment options for your pup while you’re out and about: Try getting an empty and open plastic bottle and filling it with a few treats small enough to fall out of the hole. Shake the bottle to get your dog’s attention and watch them try to figure it out. For pups who like to dissect things, put a few treats in some tissue paper and stuff it in cardboard toilet paper rolls and watch them tear it apart. To take it to the next level, fill a shoebox with lots of these, packed tightly. On a hot day, try freezing or treating a toy in a bowl of water, thawing it a bit, and dropping it for your dog to puzzle over.
Daniel Levit is the assistant for the behavior and training division of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. For more information, visit www.PHS-SPCA.org, call 650-340-7022, ext. 416, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.