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We've all been there -- you go into your closet, pull out your favorite pair of shoes and suddenly you notice that they've been torn to pieces. Who's to blame? The dog, of course.
Here are some guidelines on how to get a puppy or dog to stop chewing things he shouldn't:
1. Be attentive. Much like you would with a human baby, always keep an eye on your puppy to protect him from his own curiosity and lack of experience.
2. Contain the situation. If you have to leave your dog alone, whether for a long portion of the day or for only a little while (like a trip to the grocery store), make sure that he is confined in a secure place, such as in a dog crate or in an area of your house that has been set aside just for him – with child or pet proof gates to secure the area. Puppies usually begin chewing on things when they are alone and bored, often getting into trouble or suffering injury when allowed free rein to roam around an unsupervised house. The area where you confine your puppy must be free of objects that he can chew on, except for those chew toys that have been specifically chosen for their age appropriateness.
3. Leave your scent behind. If you are leaving your dog for a longer duration, rolling your dog’s favorite toy or nylon bone between your hands will give him something to remember you by. Avoid making an emotional farewell so that your puppy does not respond with anxiety (i.e., separation anxiety), which can lead to whining, barking and other destructive behaviors. Many puppy owners have also found that leaving the radio on (with calm, soothing music playing in the background) will help to calm an anxious puppy.
4. Prevention is key. You must put away all of the things your dog can get into his mouth. Even things that appear to be out of reach may be reached by a diligent dog. This includes shoes, children’s toys (especially small toys that your puppy can choke on), articles of clothing (particularly socks and undergarments) plastic bags, containers of medicine, wallets and purses; just about everything. Do not ever allow a dog to go into the bathroom unsupervised, since there are a lot of objects there that you do not want to have chewed and scattered through the house. This includes items commonly found in the wastebasket, but also rolls of toilet paper. You must also take care to store valuable objects such as jewelry in a safe place that a dog cannot reach; a closed closet, dresser drawer or cabinet is best.
5. Choose toys wisely. Many plush animals have pieces that can fall off or be chewed off, becoming a choking hazard. Only buy plush toys that have been designed with a dog's safety in mind.