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I have a 3 months old Labrador puppy who is very active. She is a very smart dog, maybe a little over-smart. The problem is that she tries to chew anything that comes into her way. Be it a ball, pebble or anything, she just tries to chew it. I'm guessing this is way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. Or maybe it is boredom.

How can I discourage my puppy from chewing on objects?

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Labradors in particular are notorious for chewing on wood, so make sure you keep an eye on your deck if you have one! –  cimmanon Dec 23 '13 at 21:09
    
Try rubbing objects in lemon juice. It worked for my puppy a while back! –  h . Dec 23 '13 at 21:49
    
@HarryDenley Usually works, but it can also backfire. I tried once Tabasco Pepper Sauce, my Lab happily licked it up. –  Ingo Dec 24 '13 at 11:12
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4 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

"Buy a new pair of shoes and a woodworks lathe." said an old man to me when I went about asking what and how should I prepare for my first dog (puppy). I said I can imagine why the shoes, but what's the lathe for? His prompt answer was "you see, it is not nice to walk barefoot to a shoes dealer; that's why you buy the new shoes now and hid them somewhere high up. And the woodworks lathe comes handy when you are constantly in need of new legs for your chairs and knobs for your drawers, it'll also become cheaper in the long run if you have your own lathe for the job."

The straight answer to your question is no, chewing can't be prevented.

  • Chewing is normal at all ages of a dog.
  • Excessive chewing is normal for a young puppy.

knobs for your drawers

At that age it is quite normal for a dog to chew after chewing. It is for the new teeth coming up and the worst of the chewing will end soon enough. Just keep on feeding your dog with things to chew. Not only toys and such, but also chewing sticks and bones. Even an adult dog will occasionally like to chew something, but for a puppy it is a necessity. The odd thing is they don't like to chew just anything. There's your job to find out what he'll like to chew and what not. My family is lucky to have two dogs who won't chew our shoes, though they did chew almost anything.

You might use this in the training and socializing of your puppy. Use chewing sticks as reward for succesful obeying of "Here" command. After all, that's the most important command you'll need to drill into a dog's nerve system, so you might as well use such rewards that your puppy will value highly at the moment.

There is something I am not quite sure about, but I'd think it good that your dog is not drawing an equal mark between "I'm bored" and chewing. You should do good to make him associate chewing with play and training and fun and rewards from you. Later in life, when you are at work and your dog is home alone and gets bored in waiting for you to return - there is a chance he won't start chewing down your furniture if he doesn't connect boring and chewing.

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Good answer. I feel inclined to add that negative reinforcement alone will not help here. Providing alternate behavior is key here, because the dog cannot simply not chew on things. A strong "NO" with something else to chew on is ideal. –  Chris Dec 23 '13 at 15:04
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At 3 months old it's probably teething. But Labradors will chew anything and everything, it's just something that comes with the breed. My Labrador I had as a kid chewed a hole through the wall of our wooden shed and then chased a possum through it one night. Her favorite thing to chew on were these rawhide bone donuts:

Donut Dog Bone (Source)

Probably because those were the only things that would take her over a day to chew through. There are even alternatives if you prefer not to give your dog rawhide; Like this Chase N Romp Foraging Ring. A kong toy filled with treats, or even just dog food, will keep her entertained as well.

Kong Toy with Stuffing (Source)

Play lots of fetch, give her lots of toys to chew on. Labradors are a a working dog, so she'll have plenty of energy to spend.

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I'm sorry, it is a 3 months old puppy, not 3 year old. Sorry for the confusion. –  Amal Murali Dec 23 '13 at 3:46
    
It's alright, it doesn't change too much with the age honestly. She's teething, but being a Labrador she won't stop chewing. Encourage her to chew on her toys and you'll be fine. –  Matt S. Dec 23 '13 at 3:50
    
Same thing here. When you have a Labrador, forget about 90% of dog toys on sale. They'll last 10 minutes, and that's it then, a heap of tatters. Apart from Kong, which is among the few things that can withstand your Lab, you can do your Lab a favour if you give him something to chew on that is actually edible and lasts a while, like dryed beef scalp. –  Ingo Dec 23 '13 at 7:26
    
Just seeing that OP is living in India, so I'm afraid beef is a no go. Sorry for that! Alternatively, you can try uncooked (!) bones, for example from sheep. No pig (because of deadly Leishmanose), and chicken (bones are splittering). Some dogs digest bones very well, others don't. Don't overdo it, though. –  Ingo Dec 23 '13 at 8:20
    
Thanks for mentioning that. I added an alternative that's not rawhide. –  Matt S. Dec 23 '13 at 19:47
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Two small things before I start:

  1. You have a pup. Puppies at her age are beginning to feel pain in their teeth as new teeth begin to push out the old ones. Remember that teething is a way for her to ease the pain -- she's not trying to be a bad dog.

  2. Puppies will teeth for the sake of easing pain until they're developed -- then they'll do it for fun. This is what dogs do. Once all her adult teeth are completely in (if they look in but she's teething in an odd way, check the back of her mouth. Bowser, my 7-mo-old, is trying to shove big bones all the way to the back of his mouth to ease the pain of those molars coming in), she'll still teeth a little bit.

Teething is a really a good opportunity to begin training your dog. The first rule is to always have her supervised. When she begins teething on things she's not supposed to, give her a stern no and distract her with something else. A few good things to distract her with:

  • Puppies love ice cubes. It will help numb the gums and ease the pain.
  • Try getting a clean, old towel and getting it wet. Wrap it up and tuck in the edges. Stick it in the freezer overnight and when she starts chewing, pull it out. If she begins ripping the frozen, hard towel, take it from her (this is also a good training opportunity -- don't let her growl!), cut off the extras, and give it back.
  • Bowser loves nylon bones.
  • Towels are good too. I've seen dogs play two ways with towels. One is the "let me rip this thing apart" way, and they start eating it like a bone, finding the best way to shred it. Sometimes, though, I've seen teethers stick part of it in their mouth and just start clenching really hard. The second way is best. With both ways, the towel will rip eventually, so make sure to cut off anything that could get caught inside her mouth/organs.
  • If you want, run to the pet store and get something like a bully stick or deer antler.

Remember not to reward bad behavior. If you spend five minutes trying to get the dog to stop chewing on the furniture, that's attention time. She'll love it. If you distribute the "no" and get right to redirection and replacement, then reward, she'll learn what she gets attention for and what she doesn't.

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The person that taught me the frozen towel trick told me to soak it in chicken stock to encourage the puppy to chew on it. –  Cucamonga Dec 24 '13 at 22:50
    
@Cucamonga I've never heard of that. Sounds like a good idea. –  Jeremy Dec 24 '13 at 22:50
    
To be fair, shouldn't we add that this way you may teach the dog that towels (and maybe other clothing) are toys and can be shreddered? I am of the opinion that one should make a clear distinction between "my belongings" and "your belongings" early on. –  Ingo Dec 25 '13 at 11:48
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@Ingo That's fair. One way to deter this would simply be positive reinforcement. For example, put gates up in the kitchen and get rid of all other toys besides 2 towels: one a frozen bone, and the other a normal towel. Put both in front of the dog. Reward when she goes for the bone. Give a stern "no" and redirect when she goes for the towel. –  Jeremy Dec 25 '13 at 15:27
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3 month old lab pups should be contained in a crate or pen when they are not supervised. Use bitter apple as a taste deterrent on the legs of the table, if that is where the pup seems to want to focus. Substitute appropriate chew toys if the pup goes for the table leg. Other fun things to give them to chew on: ice cubes- or a large ice cube made in a plastic butter tub- making a hockey puck size toy. You can freeze a few pieces of kibble in the ice cube to make it more interesting. Also, try putting a nylabone in the freezer for a bit. The cold feels good on teething gums. One more thought: the best chew toy I found for labs in on http://www.goughnuts.com/ This company makes nearly indestructible chew toys, and the company replaces them when they get worn down. The green 3/4 size is good for lab pups, but they will graduate to the full size when 7-9 months old. The black toys are for the super strong chewers- which most of my labs turn out to be. If you really focus on chewing issues when the pup is young, you should get past that stage in a few months.

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"you should get past that stage in a few months" - I'd be careful when you say that. Chewing isn't something that goes away in a few months. Dogs will teeth until their mouth is completely mature, and that takes longer than a few months. –  Jeremy Dec 25 '13 at 6:01
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