The time is bound to come when your sweet puppy displays his alter ego and starts chewing, shredding and tearing up inappropriate items. Like a human baby, your little buddy explores and investigates his surroundings by putting objects in his mouth. Various factors may trigger this behavior -- maybe your puppy is teething, or maybe he's bored or wants your attention. Whatever the cause, it's important to stop the destructive behavior before it becomes a habit, and redirect your pal to appropriate activities.
Toys, Toys and More Toys
If you don't provide your puppy with toys to chew and play with, he'll surely invent some -- your slippers and wallet make good chew toys, and the couch pillows look great for a game. A variety of dog toys and chew objects can help keep your belongings intact. Look for quality toys of various textures to satisfy your pup's every need, and regularly give him new toys to keep him interested. Ensure he always has access to his toys, so he's less tempted to play with yours.
Give Your Puppy a Workout
If you're letting your puppy be a couch potato, you're setting him up to develop a variety of behavior problems -- your pup needs to burn energy, and he'll find ways to do it in all the wrong places. Take your pal outside. Play games with him, such as tug-of-war and fetch. Let him run and burn energy so he'll be too tired to go looking for trouble later. Daily obedience sessions and food-stuffed dog puzzles can help stimulate him mentally. Just spending quality time with your little buddy will help develop his brain, run off energy, and prevent a lot of problems.
When you find your shoes have fallen victim to your puppy's search for a hobby, avoid yelling at him. He won't know what you're upset about, and he might end up fearing you. Instead, stay calm and set yourself up to actually catch your pup in the act. When you do, shake a can of coins or clap your hands to startle him. Then redirect his attention to a chew toy, and praise him when he shows interest in it. If you do this consistently, your puppy will associate the inappropriate object with the unpleasant noise, and he may be motivated to chew his own toys instead.
Yummy? I Think Not
If your puppy develops an obsession for chewing on a specific piece of furniture or a forbidden object, spray it with a commercial dog repellent. When your pup tries to satisfy his urge to destroy, he'll smell or taste the repellent and most likely will leave the item alone. When you use repellent, you still must watch your pal closely; some dogs don't mind the unpleasant smell or taste.
Supervise and Confine
Consistently supervising your puppy is the only way you can catch him destroying inappropriate items. When you are going about your business, attach your dog's leash to your belt so he's always in the same room with you. If you can't watch him, don't allow him the run of the house, because this is asking for trouble. Confine him to a crate or to a small, pet-proof room with water and a dog toy until you're able to supervise him again.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.