Company of Animals Login / Register

Chewing, stealing & mouthing

Bringing a new puppy into your household is a bit like having a small child! A certain amount of ‘puppy proofing’ will need to be practised until he is trained and of course we can’t expect a puppy to instinctively know that it is wrong chew items that are within their reach, so all precious or dangerous items should be removed from reach, for the short term at least. Tempting but immovable items like furniture can be treated with one of the readily available anti-chew products available in most pet shops.

Set your puppy up for success by providing them with items to chew rather than waiting for them to start chewing your belongings such as mentally stimulating toys and any of those that dispense food. Food items left on work surfaces are an unfair temptation to an animal with such a sensitive sense of smell, even leftover crumbs or dirty plates are just calling out to be eaten up!

Stealing is often inadvertently rewarded by being chased or given attention as well as having the fun of actually having the object. If your puppy picks up something you don’t want them to have, try to not give them a big reaction; as soon as they gets the idea you want their object it instantly becomes a game and a slippery slope for your training!

All puppies bite and mouth as a way of exploring their environment; it is a totally normal behaviour, after all they don’t have hands that they can pick things up with! However, contrary to popular belief it is not something that “they will just grow out of”; if puppies learn that biting is a good way of getting your attention encouraging people to play with them or stop somebody from doing something to them they don’t enjoy, then biting may well last into adulthood which obviously presents a bigger problem!

Puppies need to learn from an early age that biting and mouthing at people is an unacceptable behaviour and not something that brings rewarding outcomes; this doesn’t mean punishing them for it however, as always, it means that we need to make it an unsuccessful behaviour whilst providing an alternative that is acceptable and rewarding.

Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.