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Help teething pups avoid bad chewing habits

By HELEN PALMER

K9 Corner

A reader called asking how to stop her adolescent pup from eating rocks, sticks and other things in the yard. She mentioned casually that this pup is digging up her spring bulbs and chewing on them. I informed her that many of the spring bulbs are poisonous and she must put a stop to this immediately or she could have an enormous veterinary bill or perhaps a dead dog.

Chewing on rocks or other inedible objects can be triggered by teething in the young dog. This particular pup had been given an array of canine chew toys which he seems to ignore when outdoors. The owner did say that she would not allow her pet to take the rawhides or meat bones outside because they tend to be buried. Thus it is possible that the animal doesn’t have enough to keep him occupied while he is out.

One toy the caller did not mention is a treat ball. This is a toy that can be stuffed with pieces of kibble or small squares of cheese or cooked meat that requires the dog to work at the opening in order to get the reward. One reader told me that she put peanut butter in her treat toy and it took hours for her dog to clean it out. The toy rolled all over the yard as the dog worked for the treat, she said. Great exercise and good distraction at the same time. This is one toy a dog will not bury easily!

Meat bones have their good and bad sides. The good side is the fact that the dog likes to gnaw on it and it gives the chewing satisfaction that a teething pup needs. For an adult dog, gnawing helps keep the teeth clean. The bad side is the fact that cooked bones can splinter and tear up the lining of the mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach. You need to know the risks and benefits before making your decision on whether to give your dog this item to chew. Raw bones don’t seem to splinter as much.

Since this dog is chewing on flower bulbs, he is probably pruning the shrubs as well. There are repellent products available to spread on the garden to keep the dog away from the area. There is also a spray that can be used to discourage chewing on shrubs.

One of my dogs was “pruning” my pussy willows severely. I purchased some Bitter Apple (a product formulated to discourage chewing) and read the ingredients. One of the ingredients was alcohol and I wondered how that would affect the shrub. I reasoned that if I didn’t spray the plant, it was doomed anyway so I tried it. The dog stopped chewing on the branches and the shrub responded like I had used fertilizer.

Puppies will chew on anything they find. Keep clothing picked up in the areas the pup is allowed in. Socks in particular seem to be a favorite. Allowing the pup to chew on clothing will result in the destruction of some new article sometime in the future.