Don't Eat That!

New Pet Owners  •   Jasey Day  •   Mar 08, 2016

Puppies love and need to chew as part of the teething process. In addition, puppies use their mouths to explore and to learn about the world around them. You need to ensure that your dog does not chew or ingest anything dangerous! Thus, to keep your puppy safe and your belongings undamaged, follow these key tips:

1. Puppy-proof your house. Use baby gates to quarantine your puppy to safe areas or in the same room with you so you can monitor his activities. Be sure to keep your shoes put away and keep your trash cans covered. Do not leave food or other potentially interesting items on the counter or on any surface that your dog may reach.  Knick-knacks can no longer be kept at dog height. Even your laundry should be secured – you don’t want your puppy ingesting a sock! Also, keep remote controls and other small electronics, like your smart phone, up high!

2. Safe dog toys. Appropriate toys for puppies do not have easily removable or swallowable pieces – so that cute toy made for children may not be a safe choice with those marble-like eyes! Instead, choose toys made specifically for puppy chewing. Avoid toys that are too hard and may break your pup’s teeth. Always watch your dog’s interaction with a new toy and do not leave him unattended until you determine that the toy is safe for your pup’s play style. Some of my favorite go-to puppy items include:

3. What’s mine? Make it clear. First, intermixing dog and children’s toys may be confusing to the dog, so keep the locations of those toys separate. Keep in mind that your dog may perceive a fuzzy children’s boot or stuffed toy animal as the perfect texture and size to be a fun dog toy to haul around! I like to keep all dog toys in dog bins that are easily accessible to my pups; that way, my dogs have an easy time determining where their stuff is and what stuff is for dogs. Second, keep the rules clear and consistent – allowing your dog to one day play with the child’s toys will be confusing to your pup if the next day you do not allow him to play with the child’s toys. Third, reward and praise good chewing behavior! If your dog is chewing on his items, praise him and drop a few dog treats near him while he’s chewing. He’ll learn great things happen to him when he’s chewing his stuff.

4. Interrupt and exchange.  If you catch your pup chewing something that he shouldn’t, interrupt by calmly saying “eh-eh” and then taking away that not-allowed item. Immediately replace the not-allowed item in your dog’s mouth with an appropriate object, such as one of your dog’s toys. Praise your pup (“good dog!”) for chewing on the appropriate item!

5. ZZZZZZ. Tired dogs offer fewer undesirable behaviors – including chewing - and do not tend to “make up their own games” to entertain themselves! If your pup is already tired from doggie day camp or from a nice walk, your dog will be less likely to steal your laundry in an attempt to have you chase him across the house!

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your beloved pup may still find trouble. Should you find or suspect that your puppy has eaten something they shouldn’t have, contact your vet immediately. You want to handle a potential foreign body ingestion sooner rather than later. In addition, consider investing in pet insurance. AKC Pet Insurance offers customizable plan options to help you handle unexpected vet bills. Get your quote today!

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