View Full Version : Please help me with some good (anti-) chewing advice!

Daisy's Mom
14th July 2006, 05:42 PM
As some of you know from my topic in the Introduce Yourself area, I just got a 10 week old Cavalier puppy this past weekend. She is a love, and we can tell she is very smart. The worst behavior problem we have encountered isn't house accidents. She's only had about 4 of those this week in total, and all of them were completely our fault. 2 of the 4 were at the same time -- all of us were out on a bike ride around the neighborhood and my 7 year old son got back first by a few minutes. He let Daisy out of her crate without taking her outside and of course she immediately peed on the floor and pooped in another place, too. I was very distraught as we had already had 2 perfect accident-free days prior to that. It felt like all my hard work and care of the prior 4 days had been undone. She has also been really great about the crate. Maybe 2 minutes of whining in the crate max the entire week! She has even crawled in there herself some times to take a nap. We've taught her to sit and lay down pretty reliably, too!

OK, enough bragging about our prodigy. :D Now for the bad news -- she chews on EVERYTHING!!! She chews on our fingers, toes, socks, the couch, the leather chair, clothing, my daughter's and my hair, ears, my daughter's nightgown hem, my jeans hem, mulch, bugs, you name it. She has bitten my toes so hard that she's almost drawn blood! She has actually clamped down on my big toe and done the "death-shake!" She is especially enraged by white socks! We've tried distraction, putting her down and ignoring her, screaming out in pain to startle her, and I'm sad to say even yelling at her. We have to continually pry her mouth off our body parts. We just cannot have her doing this to people! My kids are starting to run screaming from her and jumping on the couch to protect themselves when she is in one of her moods! Other times, she is just the perfect angel, snuggling and licking your fingers.

Help me, please! I have read never to put her in the crate as punishment because you don't want her to view it as imprisonment, but a couple of times, I've felt I had no choice, just for the sake of self-preservation. In case this is pertinent to your advice, up until now, she's in the crate at night, and mostly only in it in the daytime by her own choice or when no one is home. I have the summer off, and I have stayed home with her every day and she has plenty of attention from me and our 2 kids, who love her, but view her as the Tasmanian devil about half the time.

The chewing is all in good fun to her, but especially given that we have kids and they have kid-friends, we have to figure out how to refocus her. We've gotten her lots of toys, which she will chew on occasionally, but nothing is as fun to chew as humans and furniture.

14th July 2006, 06:23 PM
Aww, puppies are soo great. It sounds like your little girl is doing great! Being a puppy, but still doing well. :)

Some tips for chewing:

You can get a product called Bitter Apple that you can put on stuff you dont want your dog to chew. It tastes bad, but it's harmless.

You mentioned lots of toys. Have you tried cold/frozen toys? The cold will help with any pain from teething. You can freeze things in a kong, but you can also take a few rags, soak them in water, then ring them out into a twisted log. Freeze the rags and they make great frozen chews. When thawed, just rinse and refreeze!

Some gnawing on people is to be expected in a pup, but that doesnt make it mannerly. If she's in a "mood" and no amount of correction (squealing, NO, and pushing her away) does any good, you might have to separate her from people until she calms down. A puppy trainer here says putting the dog in its kennel until it calms down is acceptable, though I know a lot of people disagree. I think that, if all other corrections have failed, you could put her in her kennel. Just dont make it a negative experience (dont yell at her, be mean about shoving her in, etc.). Give her a toy to chew on while in there, and let her out as soon as she settles down.

If you're adverse to putting her in her kennel, consider putting her in an exercise pen until she calms down. It may take her longer to calm down in the ex-pen, but as long as she's not biting people you should be happier.

Good news is that she'll grow out of most of these issues in time. One day, you will read someone on the board posting about their puppy's biting, and you'll only have a vague memory of your own experience. :)

14th July 2006, 06:31 PM
Oh dear!!

Been there, done it, got the T-shirt and now I look back at the few teeth marks that I have left around the house and smile....always a memory to cherish! To be honest they were all very good...

Rosie the skirting in the family room!
Pippa the top of the stairs!
Daisy the foot bar on the chair...

One day you will look back and know what I mean!!!

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

Daisy's Mom
14th July 2006, 06:32 PM
I meant to get some Bitter Apple at the pet store yesterday and stupidly forgot to. I will get some today in hopes of protecting our leather chair and ottomon, at least. We may have to shower in it and request that any guests do the same! :?

I have a question about Bitter Apple, too. Our neighbor lent me a book called "Superpuppy" and in it, they describe this elaborate process for using Bitter Apple where you soak a cotton ball in it, hold it in the puppy's mouth and then praise them for spitting it out, do the same with the treated item you want them to avoid, etc, etc. It sounds very unpleasant and complicated. I'm wondering why all that conditioning is necessary when the whole idea of the product is that it tastes awful on its own, which is supposed to discourage the chewing. I remember my mom tried to used Bitter Apple on my poodles' feet when I was a kid, to discourage them from biting their toes, but it was completely ineffective at that particular objective, as I recall.

14th July 2006, 07:32 PM
Oh no, PLEASE don;t do that. That is the human equivalent of forcing children to bite down on a lemon, or hold a bar of soap in their mouth, just so they understand they don;t like it. :yikes

There's a lot of very bad advice out there in books. :|

Just follow the directions on the bitter apple product. She will likely grow out of chewing but not til after she finishes teething, 4-6 months or so, with some cheweing til about one year old.

Basic cheweing rules:

1) Number one is never leave anything out you don;t want chewed. That way, the puppy doesn;t get the idea that it is OK to chew the item in the first place. You won;t always remember, and you'll lose some things you wish hadn;t been chewed (for me, two pairs of shoes!) but prevention is the best approach.

2) Use something like bitter apple where appropriate.

3) Loudly say AH! whenever the puppy tries to chew YOU and get up and walk away and ignore the pup for 5 minutes or so. The puppy is puppy biting and needs to learn -- as it would from parents or siblings -- that biting isn;t OK. Siblings will yelp then avoid the biter. Nothing a puppy hates more than being ignored. Adults will also ignore a biter. They learn pretty fast that biting = no fun.

4) have appropriate toys the pup is allowed to chew on and if found chewing something innapropriate, remove the item and substitute the chewing item. When the pup starts chewing the chew toy, praise.

14th July 2006, 07:34 PM
PS: Much more fun and appropriate to train the 'leave it' and 'drop it' commands as the pup gets a little older. Find a good positive methods, reward based class (eg no choke chains, leash corrections, punishment). You will be surprised how fast a cavalier motivated by a treat will learn any command. :)

Your gut feeling on the other method is absolutely right. :thmbsup:

14th July 2006, 08:42 PM
Ahhhh...the fun of puppies biting everything in their path! I remember it well. I still call our youngest "Jaws". Here's a good article about puppies that I hope helps some.


Just remember he's only 10 weeks old and this too will pass. Very quickly too. Very cute puppy! You will be laffing alot in the coming months.

Daisy's Mom
14th July 2006, 08:53 PM
Thanks everyone! It makes me feel better knowing that this degree of play-biting is not abnormal. Of course, I know puppies bite, and I fondly remember being nipped in the past by those little razor teeth with my other dogs, but this seemed extreme. Maybe it's because it's now MY leather chair, MY kids, and MY couch in jeopardy instead of my parents' that's accounting for my increased concern. :D I will muster all patience and begin anew...

14th July 2006, 09:33 PM
Sorry DeAnna but LMAO :lol: :lol: :lol: . My darling Maxxy chewed the bottom shelf of my new bookcase when hubby was supposed to be minding him and watching over him. Hubby fell asleep and ten minutes later I got home to a pile of gnawed wood :roll: . The people who made it, very kindly made me a new shelf and didn't charge me for it either. They thought it too funny when I showed them the pic of the naughty but very cute puppy looking all innocent beside the pile of wood and battered bookcase!

He also chewed shoes (just like Karlin's angels) and so all her advice is exactly what I would say too.

One other thing though. Bitter apple is disgusting and she will have the taste of it in her mouth for a while after licking it :yuk: Listerine is a good alternative and non toxic to her. You can also put some on your toes :lol: - Best of all though, I found that saying 'Ah' in a deep growly voice worked better than anything and still does to this day :D

Good luck and if you get fed up of her then Fed Ex her to me ;)

14th July 2006, 11:21 PM
Quick question... does the bitter apple stuff work on cords? Electrical cords, camera cords, cell chargers etc? I have a cord chewer... :yikes

14th July 2006, 11:56 PM
:yikes :yikes :yikes I thought it bad enough when Charlie pulls on the iron cord whilst I am ironing :yikes :yikes :yikes

15th July 2006, 01:44 AM
He hasn't got zapped yet :yikes but his day is coming... I think one zap and he will be cured of his chewing habbit, but I would really prefer the bitter apple spray to a hairless dog. :sl*p:

15th July 2006, 11:27 PM
Here's a really good article on teaching bite inhibition:



16th July 2006, 05:34 PM
LOL DeAnna your story is hillarious. It reminds me of Kosmo when he was small. We had a Jack Russel at home though - I don't think ANYTHING could beat her, not even Kosmo. When he was rowdy I found it effective to take a toy and play with him for a while. Eventually he got so tired that he passed out and was an angel again. (: We tugged for a long long time when he was small but it's imporant to remember never to shake it yourself or tug back. (: I just kind of held it and let him do his thing. Daisy will grow out of it soon enough but good luck on staying sane until that time comes! :p