Can I just say thank you – your site is so useful! I do, however, want to know about chewing on the crate bars (when inside). Our 8 week old puppy does this when he’s looking for something to nibble on (even with his favourite toy and stuff Kong with him), and also at night when he’s indicating it is time to eliminate. Should I ignore this during the day? Perhaps treat it, as you said about crying in the crate, with a quick rap on the lid and say “quiet”?
Also, when drying paws on re-entry from the garden, how can I avoid him chewing gum towel? We’ve tried distractions with toys (totally unsuccessful), saying “no” and removing it, and ignoring it. We’re unsure which is best. Thanks in advance! I now have a nylon lead on him and our issues of distraction and stone/mud chewing outside are gone!
It sounds like you are having a few issues with chewing. I firstly want to point out that these behaviors are very normal for a young puppy, and it will continue through the teething period, and possibly beyond! Chewing on the crate bars is not very good for his teeth, so this is certainly something you want to discourage. There are several methods you can try to stop this; you can try to rap on the front of the crate and say a firm ‘No’ (do not say ‘quiet’, as that is another word association for vocalization).
You could also try to put an ‘anti chewing’ spray directly on the bars. These can be found in most pet shops. Another option is to give your puppy something that is really meant for chewing; a nylabone, a raw hide/pressed bone, a pigs ear, etc. These will allow him to really work at something that is hard to chew on, other then metal bars.
Your second issue of chewing on the towel is also very common, and this often seems like a fun game to a puppy. Saying ‘No’, removing it from his mouth, and replacing it with his toy is typically the best method. If you put his collar on, it will give you more control as you can hold his head in place whilst using the towel. Stay calm, go slowly, and be verbally firm. Never get into a struggle with him. If you are struggling with this method, another option is to put him into what we call the ‘Cradle’ position. You sit on the floor, flip him over on his back, and put him in between your legs. If he struggles gently squeeze your legs together so he is unable to move. When he relaxes, release all tension whilst still keeping him in position. When he is calm, dry his feet, and then calmly ‘release’ him with ‘ok’.
You can practice this everyday, even when you don’t need to dry his feet. With any of these options, make sure you offer calm praise when he is allowing you to do it, so he understands this is what you want. Practice and patience will help you overcome this issue!
Professional Dog Trainer and Animal Behaviorist
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