If you’ve ever owned a puppy, you know how much they love to chew. Shoes, carpet, furniture. You name it and they will chew. While a trainer like Happy Pup Manor can assist with your pup’s mouthiness, offering them chew toys is also a great way to keep your shoelaces intact! To help you choose which chew toy is the best for your pup, Gabby, owner and lead trainer of Happy Pup Manor, compiled some helpful tips and information to make your decision-making process easier.
There are quite a few options when choosing a chew toy for your puppy! To simplify things, think about chews as either edible or non-edible.
It is important to check where your pup’s chew is coming from. Always avoid chews that come from China. In 2015 alone, the FDA reported more than 6,200 pups who fell ill from contaminated chews, and 1,140 deaths from treats containing contaminated chicken, duck, or sweet potatoes. The American Veterinary Medical Association website maintains a list of recalls and safety alerts, and for immediate updates, follow @AVMARecallWatch on Twitter.
Your puppy can start using a chew toy right away. Different chew toys are appropriate for different sizes and ages of puppies. Smaller and younger puppies do not have the jaw strength for harder chews, such as antlers, and should be saved for older, larger pups. The size of the chew is an equally important consideration – a 3-pound puppy will need a smaller chew, such as a 4” nylabone, while a 25-pound puppy should avoid small toys as they pose a choking hazard – a buffalo horn will be a more size appropriate choice.
The hope with giving a chew toy to your pup is that it gives them something hard to chew on, but not tough enough to break their rather thin, sharp teeth.
Puppies, much like their human owners, love to have a variety. Buy several options of chew toys for your pup, mixing in both edible and non-edible. You don’t want to give them all of the toys at once, however. Try rotating chews a few times a week, giving them an edible option for a couple of days, then offering them a harder, non-edible choice. Over time, you will learn what works best for your pup to chew on.
Here’s the rough schedule I use with my puppies – remember you should leave non-edible chews out all the time so puppy can always make a good chewing choice, but that you should rotate them to give some variety. Target having 2-3 kinds of edible chews on hand and another 4-6 non-edible that you’ll rotate a few at a time:
No! If puppy has a favorite chew, let them enjoy it and in fact buy a second. Making that chew scarce could start them down a path of resource guarding. If you encounter growling and other protective behaviors over their chews and toys, immediately contact a reputable trainer to ensure the problem doesn’t become worse – this is an entry point to behavior that will end with biting and must be addressed.
Puppies require continual alert supervision when they are not in their crate – left unsupervised, potty accidents and poor chewing choices are inevitable, after all, they don’t know any better! If you cannot watch your puppy, please put them in their crate or an exercise pen where they will be safe.
If puppy goes to chew the sofa under your watchful eye, you can redirect by offering a toy or chew. “Hey puppy, why don’t you come give THIS a try instead” will get them on the right track. If a few redirects don’t do the trick, your puppy is likely a little overtired and needs a nap in their crate. This helps puppies learn to make better choices when they are tired.
Try to make the substitution match the needs your puppy is expressing
Most non-edible puppy chew toys can be hand washed with soap and water. However, from our own experience, most hard chews can be put on the top rack of the dishwasher or in your washing machine and be fine. The biggest negative about putting chews in with other items is that they tend to gather a lot of hard-to-remove fur and spread it to your other items.
The team at Happy Pup Manor has helped hundreds of pup graduates break bad chewing habits and learn obedience commands. If you’re in need of assistance with training your puppy, contact us today! We specialize in Doodles, Retrievers, and a several smaller breeds.