What do your shoes, your furniture and your remote control have in common? Chances are, if you have a puppy at home, the answer is: “things that I’ve pulled out of my puppy’s mouth this week!”
chew it over
Dogs explore the world with their mouths, so chewing is a perfectly natural behavior. They also chew to relieve stress, release excess energy and alleviate boredom.
Some breeds tend to be more “mouthy” than others, like Retrievers or mixes like Labradors, Goldendoodles or Poodles. Also, breeds that usually have a higher-than-typical energy level like Border Collies or Australian Cattle Dogs need an outlet for their boundless energy.
Teething puppies also chew more than adult dogs. Many feel that, as in baby humans, chewing alleviates some of the discomfort of teething in puppies. As the teething phase begins around 12 weeks and ends at about 6 months, it’s safe to say that puppies will spend a lot of their first months exploring the world one chomp at a time!
cut the chomping
The good news is that if your puppy is chewing, it means they’re a perfectly normal puppy! But the bad news is that it may be tough (and sometimes painful!) to live with your puppy while they go through their chewing phase.
But think twice before you set out to STOP the chewing. Since chewing is a natural and necessary function of being a dog, your focus should shift from stopping the behavior entirely to channeling your puppy’s chewing habits more appropriately!
Think of it this way: your job over the next few months is to make your puppy into a chew toy-aholic! If your pup grabs a shoe, take it away and replace it with a KONG®. If your pup gnaws on your phone charger, replace it with a bully stick. And if they’re remodeling the leg of the coffee table, move them away and pop a pig ear in their mouth.
By watching your pup like a hawk and helping them make better decisions when it comes to where they put their teeth, you’re going to teach them to choose appropriate items when the need to chew arises!
best chew toys for puppies
The options are just about endless when it comes to picking a proper chew for your puppy. There are two types of chew toys: edible and non-edible.
Edible chew toys like bully sticks, pig ears, cow hooves or rawhides are intended for your dog to eat. Thus they are fully digestible. So you likely don’t have to worry if your dog picks off a piece and eats it.
As an aside, be careful about choosing the right rawhide for your dog. Rawhides made overseas are not subject to the same federal regulations that domestically-made rawhides are. Some of them contain dangerous chemicals and preservatives like formaldehyde, which could be lethal to your dog. So if you’re going to go with a rawhide, make sure it’s American made!
Non-edible chew toys like KONGs, Nylabones® or Busy Buddies® can take a beating from those prickly puppy teeth, but are made of materials that aren’t digestible. This isn’t to say that you should stay away from them. Just watch for signs of wear or missing pieces. If you notice that your pup’s non-edible chew toy is looking raggedy, it may be time to replace it with a new one!
So how do you choose the right one for your dog? A lot of it is about preferences. What does your dog like? What do they not care for? Some dogs like certain materials better than others. But a good rule of paw when picking a chew toy is size up, especially if your pup is between sizes or a particularly strong chewer. Going up a size will prevent your pup from biting off more than they can chew and potentially choking.
Also check out Dr. Ernie Ward’s tips for choosing safe chew toys for dogs, and keep a close eye on your pup any time they have their jaws on a chew.