Just like how humans explore the world with their hands, puppies explore the world using their mouths. As they are on this journey of exploration, they may pick up things and chew on them. Puppies are also chewing on items to ease the pain of teething. The common misconception is that puppies chew on items to show they are hungry.
As pet parents, our goal is prevent the habit of puppy mouthing but our actions accidently encourage this behaviour. How? When puppies pick up any household item precious to us, we give a very marked reaction from the pet parent. So they are making the association of a positive reaction from us humans on picking up the item. They are not registering that action is something we would not like them to do.
The goal here is to prevent mouthing and we shall do it in 3 different steps:
Step 1: Chew Toys
Chew Toys are a great way to redirect your puppy's behaviour from mouthing on your household items.
Here is what you need to know when buying a chew toy.
Puppies like to chew on items with different textures, so next time you buy a chew toy make sure you check the texture. They also like to chew on textures which are more natural. This includes rope, cotton, jute or even leather. Avoid plastics as puppies generally tend to get bored of them very quickly.
2) Go DIY:
Chew toys get destroyed quickly during this age so the best and quickest way is to make your own chew toy. This can be done by knotting up old pieces of cloth or even placing an old chew toy inside a sock.
3) Edible Chews:
Consider using edible chewies like yak chew or even kongs. There are also hide bones but avoid these as they contain harmful chemicals which can cause issues.
Step 2 - Verbal Correction:
The general rule should be to prevent your puppy’s teeth from making contact with your skin. This part of training involves using verbal cues to show your disapproval to their mouthing behaviour.
Every time your puppy sinks their teeth in your skin, you can either make a sharp sound such as ‘Ow’ or firm ‘NO’ which basically tells the puppy that it is not okay for them to put their teeth into your skin.
If your puppy starts biting you then stop playing with them immediately and leave the room. Another method is to tie your puppy to a piece of furniture to maintain a certain level of distance from yourself.This is generally what their littermates do when puppies bite too hard .
In conclusion, this process takes a bit of time and effort to prevent your puppy from mouthing. Remember to encourage your family members to follow these steps and enforce these boundaries to prevent puppy biting from becoming an issue. So keep practicing until your puppy understands it.