Whoever thought that raising a child is the toughest thing to do may not have raised a puppy. After all, at least babies can wear diapers! Much like infants and toddlers, though, puppies explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Puppies are teething until they're about six months old, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething, but also makes sore gums feel better.
Puppies may chew on furniture, shoes, shrubbery, and other objects. These are normal puppy behaviors, but they can still create problems for you. Unfortunately, unlike children, puppies won't magically "outgrow" these behaviors as they mature. Instead, you must shape your puppy's behaviors and teach him which ones are acceptable and which aren't.
It's virtually inevitable that your puppy will, at some point, chew up something you value. This is part of raising a puppy! You can, however, prevent most problems by taking the following precautions:
In most cases, destructive chewing by puppies is nothing more than normal puppy behavior. Occasionally, however, puppies--like adult dogs--can exhibit destructive behaviors for specific reasons. Examples include separation anxiety, fear-related behaviors, and attention-getting behaviors. For help with these problems, contact a professional animal behaviorist.
Never discipline or punish your puppy after the fact. If you discover a chewed item even minutes after he's chewed it, you're too late. Animals associate correction with what they're doing at the time they're being corrected. A puppy can't reason that, "I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that's why I'm being scolded now." Some people believe this is what a puppy is thinking because he runs and hides or because he "looks guilty."
In reality, "guilty looks" are actually canine submissive postures that dogs show when they're threatened. When you're angry and upset, your puppy feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures, and/or facial expressions, so he may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but could provoke other undesirable behaviors as well.
A puppy has a lot to learn in his new home. Be patient and consistent when training your new puppy and you'll share a special bond for years to come.