Every Interaction is an Opportunity to Teach
Have you ever had a puppy bite at your hand? It’s not meant to be harmful! Think of your puppy’s mouth as his third hand. But even more then a hand, it’s their dominate hand. If you watch puppies play, you’ll notice they grab each other with their teeth. I have learned to stay clear when my dogs are playing around me because there are times when one of the young ones wants to add me into their games and grabs my hand with their teeth. Even though they don’t mean to hurt me, my thin human skin isn’t made to take sharp puppy teeth, regardless of how soft they grab me.
A yelp or a loud, high pitched ouch (the human version of a puppy yelp) is what puppies and young dogs do to let another dog know they bit them too hard and need to lighten up. By doing this, you are telling them in their own language that their bite hurts you. Do this as often as necessary until the biting stops, which is usually within a day or two.
If your puppy seems to want to chew on everything in sight, including your socks, shoes and clothing, this is normal. This will be part of his life for the first several months, and for some breeds, even longer. Should you allow it? NO. Puppies can be quite destructive if allowed to be.
Chewing On Everything
It is best to keep things out of puppy reach until they get older, but it is also important to stop bad habits as soon as they begin. For example, don’t let your puppy chew on your shoes and socks even when it is cute. If you don’t take this opportunity to teach them as a young puppy then they may grow up thinking it is allowable. Create a command to say every time the puppy is reaching for something they shouldn’t such as “Leave It.” Using this command consistently followed by removing an object not allowed reinforces the behavior to leave something alone in the first place. The same goes for anything that is within their reach that you don’t want them to chew on.
For some breeds, it is helpful to feed them their biggest meal in the morning so their stomach is satisfied most of the day. This will reduce the temptation to eat non-edible objects, like your socks and shoes. Keep in mind that if he was outside or in the wild, he would naturally chew on and eat anything he sees. For a puppy its not just teething, its learning about his environment and filling his hungry tummy.
What can puppies chew on? Having their own chew toys and sticks will help both of you adjust to this phase of life. I have found that in general, when a dog is given an option, they will turn down chew toys that have chemical additives, stinky plastic parts, have been bleached, are too hard, or are in any way harmful to them. At the same time, I have seen hungry dogs who will eat all of these things to fill their hurting, hungry stomach. Ensure your puppy is getting the proper amount of food at meal time to prevent chewing triggered by hunger.
After spending a lot of money over the years on various toys and chew sticks for my dogs, as well as researching their safety, I have come down to only three things I give my dogs to chew on. Not only because these are safe, but also because they are the only chew things my dogs like:
- The first one is the Castor and Pollux Good Buddy USA rawhide sticks. The rawhides aren’t bleached, chemically treated and have been flavored naturally.
- The second option is more of a food. Its raw, organic bones. My dogs love these. You can purchase these from a local butcher.
- The third item is sticks that I pick up off the ground after they have fallen from a tree on our land. These are a treat for them, but be warned, they make a mess.
These are all we give to our dogs. It doesn’t have to be complicated or costly, just safe and chewable.