Most people who live with a very young puppy come to expect a lot of chewing. On everything. Not just on toys, but on the corners of rugs, on electrical cords, plants and pant legs; these are all fair game to a puppy whose mouth is driving him bananas as his teeth come in. A lot of human effort and prevention goes in to teaching the right habits. And then it happens–the pup’s chewing phase subsides and all seems right with the world. The puppy doesn’t require as much supervision, dog chew toys seem to do the trick, and the crate has been put away in favor of leaving the dog confined to a couple of rooms in the house. But look out. The humans have been lulled into a false sense of achievement and security, because no one told them about Chewy Phase Part Two.
Just when you are resting on your laurels, when the your pup is no longer a baby, but rather a young adolescent between roughly seven and nine months old, the chewing may start again. This is totally normal, tends to wrap up much quicker than the initial puppy chewy phase, and is particularly no big deal if you are expecting it. You’ll know it’s happening when you come home to gnawed-on furniture legs or cabinet baseboards, for example. Before you assume your dog is acting out or developing separation anxiety, address the fact that his mouth is probably bothering him one last time (most dogs have a mature set of choppers at around 10 months), and/or that he needs to work that extra energy out of his system.
The fix is simple: provide adequate aerobic exercise and appropriate chew projects to complete while you’re gone. He may need 2-3 sessions daily of truly aerobic exercise (a brisk, 20-minute walk may do the trick as long as he maintains a strong trot and keeps moving). Provide him with chewies and food puzzles in your absence (visit the dog supplies links to the right). Hide a couple so that he has to work to find them, which will keep him extra entertained. And pull out the crate again for a couple of weeks or more, just to help keep him out of trouble if he is really sinking his teeth into your possessions. Just make sure he has an appropriate outlet for his need to chew while he is confined, whether he’s crated or baby gated in a dog-proofed room.
One more thing to chew on…Many thanks to everyone who participated in the 25% off Top Notch Dog training appointments in May by donating to Saving Grace Animals for Adoption. The funds they received will help them take more rural shelter dogs into the program to be matched with new families.