Q: My puppy, Sally, is chewing everything in sight. How can I get her to chew on the right thing (her chew toys) and not the wrong things (the table leg, my fingers)? —Nibbled in Newark
A:Chewing is normal for a puppy. Puppies chew when they’re teething, especially at four months of age, and again at around seven months when the back molars come in. Puppies also chew to explore their worlds and because it’s fun. This may help you understand why they do it, but probably doesn’t make you feel much better as you’re staring at what’s left of your table!
To teach Sally better chewing habits, buy chew deterrent spray and use it on items you want her to avoid.Then teach her the cue, “Leave it,” using the following steps.
Have treats in both hands. Hide your left hand behind your back.
Hold your right hand right in front of Sally’s nose, and show her the treat in that hand.
In a friendly voice, say “Leave it” and quickly make a fist to cover the treat. Do not pull your hand away. Sally needs to think the treat is within reach. She will likely sniff, lick, or paw your hand, trying to get the treat. Just be quietly patient.
The second Sally moves away from your hand, praise her. Then, bring your left hand out from behind your back and reward her with a treat from that hand.
Practice until she no longer tries to get the treat out of your hand. Then, switch hands. Put your right hand behind your back and tempt her with a treat in your left hand.
With consistent practice, when you say “Leave it,” Sally will move away from whatever she’s headed towards. very useful for a growing puppy!
When she chews on you, cry “Ouch” and sound like you’re really hurt. Turn away and completely ignore her for a count of ten. Then turn back around and immediately give her one of her toys, and praise her for chewing on that. Always praise her for chewing on what you want. You may have to repeat this many times, but it will help teach her that humans are fragile and not for chewing!