Behavior and Training, Puppy and Kitten Care

How to Use Chew Toys for Behavior Training

November 29, 2022

How to Use Chew Toys for Behavior Training

Last updated: December 07, 2016

We've all been there. Whether it's a brand new pair of shoes, the arm of your favorite wooden chair or your arm. Dogs are natural chewers. So instead of battling against what nature intended, provide your dog with a proper chewing outlet.

Dogs need to chew for contentment. Just like a teething human baby, puppies chew to cut teeth until they are about seven months old. For older dogs chewing is nature's way of strengthening their jaws and keeping teeth clean.

Since they don't have hands, puppies use their sharp teeth and grab everything with their mouth. But learning the difference between a soft and hard bite can cause some challenges… and painful bite marks! That's where a chew toy comes in handy. During playtime, you can teach puppies how to have soft mouth with a toy, instead of your arm. For tips on puppy training techniques check out the My Puppy Guide Booklet.

Chews also help a dog deal with separation anxiety by serving as an engagement tool. Use a toy designed to make treats hard to reach and spread cheese or peanut butter on the toy to give your dog something to do while you're gone. This helps combat boredom. After they chew for a bit, they get tired and take a nap until you return. Life is good for a puppy if their time is managed correctly!

Five Key Features to Look For in a Quality Chew Toy

  1. Dual Purpose- Find a toy that is for chewing and training at the same time.
  2. Looks Matter- Find a toy that does not look like a shoe. We are not teaching them to chew a shoe but instead giving them an object that is theirs to chew on.
  3. Flavorful- Nylabone Strong Chew™ Maple Bacon Sticks are infused with bacon flavor or DuraChew bones come in chicken flavor and are ideal for strong chewers.
  4. Easy to Clean- You'll also want to make sure whatever chew toy you choose is easy to clean, ideally one that can be put through the dishwasher between cheese therapy sessions.
  5. Safe- Chew toys must be safe. If a puppy is chewing on something, you don't want to risk them swallowing a piece or getting hurt while playing with it.

Like any training with your dog, they won't get it right the first time or every time. Just because you've given them a chew toy doesn't mean they will only chew on that. If you find the puppy chewing on the wrong thing, sternly say “No” and then put the correct toy for chewing in their mouth. They will eventually learn what is okay to chew and what is not.

Puppies don't have a secret desire to make you wear mismatched shoes. They're chewing because they need to and if you don't guide chewing by providing a designated chew toy, they will find one.

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-Dr. B
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

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