Chewing is a normal, natural and necessary behavior. Regular chewing is essential for maintaining the health of your dog's teeth, jaws, and gums. Dogs chew out of necessity, boredom, anxiety, and/or enjoyment. Puppies have an especially strong urge to chew. Puppies chew to relieve the irritation of teething and also to investigate their new environment. In most cases, chewing occurs when your dog is left alone or unattended. Teaching your dog how to entertain himself while unsupervised is very important.
The problem is not that your dog is chewing, but what he is chewing on.
Choosing an appropriate chew toy for your dog:
Correct size (large enough that it can not be swallowed)
Correct Strength (heavy chewers require a stronger toy)
Be sure that your dog can not break small pieces of the toy off
Some appropriate chew toys (for most dogs):
Kongs (they are specifically made to keep dogs busy and the hard rubber is usually indestructible, different sizes/rubber hardness are available)
Nylabones (they are made to NOT come apart when chewed, although heavy chewers may still break pieces off)
Solid Rubber Toys (they are made to NOT come apart when chewed, although heavy chewers may still break pieces off)
Pigs Ears (if your dog does not get stomach upset they are ok, they should be treated like rawhides)
Some inappropriate toys (for most dogs):
Rope toys (if they come apart they can create a GI obstruction, which may require surgery)
Squeaky Toys (small pieces can be chewed off and ingested)
Cat Toys (they are too small, can be ingested whole and can create a GI obstruction, which may require surgery)
Although rawhides (and greenies) are great for your dog to chew on - they should never be given if you are not there to monitor.
Rawhides are meant to break down after prolonged chewing. Some smaller pieces may pose a choking hazard if they are not taken away.
When your dog can fit the whole piece in his mouth, then the piece is too small and should be thrown away.
Be extra careful with large cooked bones (knuckle bones) as they are very hard and can cause teeth to fracture if not chewed appropriately.
If you have any questions about a specific toy, feel free to ask.
Mouthing and biting are normal (but not desirable) puppy behaviors. The good news is that as your puppy gets older, much of the nipping and mouthing will disappear. Most puppy biting is done out of play, and there are several ways you can discourage your puppy from choosing people (or other pets) as a target.
Avoid Aggressive Play. Wrestling, "boxing" at the puppy's mouth with your hands, and tug-of-war will get your puppy excited and make him that yourhands are toys.
Redirect the Puppy to Appropriate Toys. All puppies will need to chew on something, so make sure there are plenty of acceptable chew toys available for their size. If your puppy bites your hand, ankle, clothing, reprimand and offer a toy instead after he stops. When he goes for the toy, give him lots of praise and attention.
Practice the "High Yip." When play between puppies gets too rough, the litter mate being bitten will give a high-pitched, piercing yip. This will startle most puppies and cause them to stop for a moment. You can mimic the yip, and withdraw your hand.
Keep Your Fingers Curled. Many puppies will not bite at a closed hand (or if the fingers are together) as they would an open hand.
Use a "Gentle Leader" Head-collar. The Gentle Leader gives you an effective way to control a puppy's head and mouth. This does not hurt the dog, and is not a muzzle. If your puppy starts to go after something he shouldn't, pull quickly and gently on the leash. As soon as he stops, release the pressure and praise him.
Use a Time Out. If your puppy gets too riled up and won't listen, try isolating him for a brief period of time. Use a kennel or small room to isolate him for a few minutes to remove him from the play area.
Supervise Play Between Kids and Puppies. Many children are not able to use these techniques on their own, and will need your help. Puppies learn quickly and may discover that young children can be intimidated by rough play or biting. Kids can also overexcite the puppy with fast movements, loud noises or their own toys. Adult supervision will be needed until the puppy and the child learn how to play together appropriately.
Dogs dig for many reasons: they dig to bury and recover bones, to make cooling / warming pits, dig up prey, and dig dens. Dogs also dig because it's a fun and normal canine activity. Lack of exercise, prolonged confinement, boredom, and loneliness are general causes for behavior problems.
Provide him with his own digging pit. A 3x6 foot area, about 2 feet deep is sufficient for any size dog. Make sure it is in a weather appropriate area. Let your dog watch the preparation and if he joins in to help, lavish him with praise. Take some of his favorite treats and toys and let him watch you bury them. Call your dog over and help him dig things up. It may be necessary to leave a little part of the treat sticking up so he knows it's there. Once he gets the idea of scratching at the dirt to remove the treat or toy, you can start to bury them deeper. While your dog is digging, praise him (you may want to teach him the "Dig in your pit" command). The dog will learn what, "Dig in your pit." means, and you can test this by putting him inside the house or garage, bury the toys in the pit, and let him out to find them. This training process can usually be done in just a few days. Remember to praise him for digging in the right spot!
Once your dog understands digging in his pit is acceptable, and understands the meaning of the, "Dig in your pit." command, you must teach him that digging elsewhere is wrong. The first step is to teach him to stay off the flower or vegetable gardens and that he is only allowed on other parts of the yard. You can mark the forbidden areas with a short fence, or rope. The fence is not intended as a physical barrier, but as a means of marking a boundary. Spend some time outside with your dog, but watch closely. Each time he gets close to the boundary, tell him "Out." If a paw goes over the line, tug him back to correct the action, while repeating, "Out." Praise him once he is back on the correct side of the zone. Return to the digging pit and entice him to dig as before and praise him as soon as he does so. Repeat the exercise and watch him for short periods of time alone to see that he stays in his own designated digging pit.
Crate Training Your Puppy
Crating is based on the idea that dogs are denning animals. In the wild, many canine species use a small cave or dug-out area to give birth to pups and for protection while sleeping or resting. However, wild canines do not spend much of their time during the day in the den. Crating is a useful tool in many situations, but can be improperly and overly used.
Crate training makes it easier to supervise the puppy and prevents him from having complete access to the house.
Puppies have a natural tendency to not soil their den or sleeping area. The puppy will be unlikely to urinate or defecate in his crate and more likely to eliminate when he is taken outside. If the crate is not used correctly, problems can develop. Young puppies can only be expected to control their bladders for several hours, NOT an entire work day. Puppies who are forced to soil in their crates as a result of being crated too long will be much more difficult to house train.
The crate should be associated with something pleasant for the puppy. A puppy should not be crated as a punishment for misbehavior!
Training should take place in a series of small steps-- don't try to do too much too quickly.
Step 1: Introduce your puppy to the crate. Place the crate in an area of the house where you or your family members spend a lot of time, such as in the family room or kitchen. Place a blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your puppy over to the crate and talk to him in a calm, happy voice. Make sure the door of the crate won't accidentally bump into your puppy and frighten him.
Drop some small treats around the crate - just inside the door and inside the crate. Encourage the puppy to enter. If he doesn't go all he way in at first, that's okay, don't force him to enter. Repeat the exercise until the puppy walks calmly into the crate. Try substituting the treats for a favorite toy in the crate. This process may take minutes to days for your puppy to become comfortable in the crate.
Step 2: Feeding your puppy in the crate. After the introduction to the crate, you can begin feeding his regular meals in the crate. This will create pleasant associations with the crate and decrease any fear. If your puppy is readily entering the crate when you begin step 2, place the food dish all the way to the back of the crate. If the puppy is reluctant to enter the crate, place the dish in front of the open door, or as far inside as he will go without becoming fearful or anxious. With each feeding, place the dish further toward the back of the crate.
Once the puppy is comfortable standing and eating in the crate, you can close the door while he's eating. At first, open the door as soon as he finishes, let him out, and praise him. With each succeeding feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he is staying in the crate without protesting for 10 minutes. If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the duration of crating too quickly. Next time, let him out sooner. Be sure to release him when he is quiet, not whining or barking. If he cries and is released, the whining behavior will be reinforced and a problem will develop.
Step 3: Conditioning your puppy to the crate for longer periods. Begin with confining your puppy for short periods when you are home. Call him over, praise him, and give a command such as, "Kennel". You can use bits of food to encourage him to enter. Close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for just a few minutes, then go out of sight for a few minutes. When you return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then release your puppy. Repeat the procedure several times a day. With each trial, gradually increase the length of time the puppy is crated, and the length of time you are out of sight. After 30 whine-free minutes are obtained, you can start leaving him for short periods of time, or let him sleep in the kennel over night.
Step 4: Crating when left alone. Use the "Kennel" command to teach your puppy to enter his crate. Vary at what point you put your puppy in the crate during the process of getting ready to leave. Although he should not be crated for a long period before you leave, 2-20 minutes is usually appropriate. You don't want to start associating the crate with you leaving. Continue to crate your puppy for short periods of time when you are home. Do not make departures long or emotional. Give the command to enter his kennel, praise briefly and reward with a treat if necessary, and leave quickly and quietly. When you arrive back home, do not become overly excited, or use excessive energy to greet him. Keep arrivals low-key and reserve the playful, excited greeting for after he has been let outside and has been calm.
Crating at night. Follow the same procedure you have been using to encourage your puppy to enter his crate willingly. It may be a good idea to place the crate in a bedroom or nearby hallway at night, if the puppy is still very young. Puppies often need to go outside during the night, and you'll want to be able to hear him rustling around, wanting to go outside. Initially, older puppies should also be kept nearby so that crating does not become associated with social isolation. Once the puppy is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the preferred location.
Whining. If your puppy whines or barks while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide if he just wants to be let out, or if he needs to go outside. If you were able to follow the training procedure outlined above, your puppy should not have been reinforced by being let out of the crate when whining. Initially you can ignore the whining. Your puppy may stop if he is just testing to see if he'll be let out. Yelling or pounding on the crate may only increase the vocalizations, and may make him nervous or anxious. If he continues to whine after being ignored for a few minutes, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose-- not play time. If you know your pet does not have to go outside, ignore him completely. Most attempts to reprimand or punish the behavior actually ends up reinforcing the behavior because the puppy receives attention from you. During the process of whining, expect it to get worse before it gets better. Don't give in or you'll teach your puppy that he has to whine louder and longer to get what he wants! Take your time and be patient. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the whole process over from the beginning, or contact your veterinarian or a trainer or behaviorist for further advice.
House Training Your Puppy
House training takes time and patience. We want to praise and prevent accidents, not use punishment if they have an accident.
Key principles to successful house craning:
Prevention - Limit puppy's opportunities to eliminate in the wong places by keeping him confined when you can't keep a constant watch on what he is doing.
Routine - Set up a regular routine. Feed him regular meals and take him outside to eliminate at the same times each day.
Anticipation - Take puppy out at times he is likely to have to eliminate: after feedings, sleeping, being confined, and after playing. Walking around in a circle and sniffing the floor are signs that he may be about to eliminate, so take him out immediately.
Praise - Softly praise him while he is eliminating in the location you've selected for him. When he has finished, lavish him with affection - petting, verbal praise and a treat.
We encourage you to train your puppy to go to the bathroom outside from the beginning rather than paper training. Catch your puppy being successful and give him the praise he deserves for doing it right. If you do catch your puppy eliminating in the house, DO NOT PUNISH HIM (no hitting, no shaking, no rubbing his nose in the mess!). These things DON'T help and can actually make your puppy fearful and house training that much harder! When you catch him eliminating indoors, just scoop him up and take him outside at once.
One of the basic rules of house training is that if you don't see him do it, don't scold him about it. When he is caught in the act and is taken outside, he makes the connection that the floor is not where he should go. If you drag him to a damp spot on the carpet hours (even minutes) after the fact, he simply can't make the connection. For cleaning up accidents, use one of the enzymatic cleaners available at most pet supply stores to remove odors which might tempt him to use the same spot again. If your puppy continues to have accidents at a favorite spot even though you have cleaned it - make it unavailable or unappealing (double-side tape).
The use of a crate may also be used in house training - see Crate Training Your Puppy Handout.
Please don't expect too much too soon. A 3 or 4 month old puppy cannot really be considered house trained. He may know what you want, but his immature body may cause him to make mistakes. These will decrease as his system matures. It is not unusual for a puppy to still have an occasional slip at 8 or 9 months, especially if you are gone longer than normal.