Your new puppy brings a lot of joy into your life. Unfortunately, he also brings along his unbearable chewing habit. You can't stop your puppy from chewing -- he needs to do it. You can, however, train him to chew on his things, not yours. With a little work and a spray bottle in hand, you'll be on your way to enjoying your furry friend, instead of being angry with him.
A spray bottle filled with water is a perfectly harmless tool for getting rid of unwanted behavior. Some canines get so startled by being sprayed between the eyes, they learn to fear the spray bottle itself. You'll see Sparky storm into the other room when that spray bottle comes out, before he even gets a squirt.
Using the Spray Bottle
The secret to success is you have to be a little sneaky. He can see the spray bottle, but if he sees you squirting him, he might just associate you with being sprayed in the face. Rather than standing in front of him and taking aim when you catch him gnawing away on your shoes, duck behind the corner, quickly spray and get back behind the corner so he doesn't see you. He'll have no idea where the water came from and after several times, he'll figure out that chewing on your shoes magically gets him wet. It will take some time, but be persistent with the spray bottle.
Puppies have to chew. Their adult teeth are coming in and their gums are sore. Chewing is also comforting, allowing them to settle down and put their minds at ease. In addition to using the spray bottle to discourage chewing, you'll also have to work on acceptable chewing.
Make sure Sparky has plenty of things to chew. When you catch him grinding the corner of the sofa with his fangs, distract him by clapping your hands or making a loud sound. Slip one of his toys in his mouth and pat him on the head when he chews that instead. During periods of uncomfortable teething, wetting his rope toy and freezing it can help ease inflammation in his gums, lessening the chances of him destroying your things.
When Spraying Fails
Spray bottles don't work for all dogs. A handful of dogs love the stream of water and may even try to catch it in their mouths. If this sounds like your pooch, you'll have to figure out an alternative. Pick up a bottle of bitter spray from the pet store and spray some on things he shouldn't be chewing, such as the dining room table leg. The next time he goes to nibble on the table, he'll get a mouthful of awful-tasting bitter spray. He'll learn that chewing on it tastes bad and won't want to go near it. Hot sauce, which you might already have, works in the same way.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.