Right now I am working with my 12 week old Labrador puppy on basic training. She is what is called by the pet industry a ‘power chewer’. Unfortunately she wants to make my hands, arms and sometimes legs the object of her chewing. This is not acceptable for many reasons and mostly I need to get a handle on it before I have a 75 pound head strong sporting dog that will be more independent than she is now.
I have looked into signs of aggression and have concluded by her face and ears that she is not showing signs of aggression. The internet being a great source in community has revealed that lots of trainers say this is just part of the journey, so enjoy. It is hard to enjoy when those needle like ‘milk teeth’ are piercing and ripping your flesh. My pup loves to chomp down and then turn to run, thereby tearing my arms and hands.
There are multiple issues here and I will not get into correction in this article however one tool that seems to help is having something to challenge and chew. There are many conflicting opinions on items to chew I would like to explore some of these dog chews. I have either studied or used most of these. Exercise is another issue and I am prepared to work with it but my pup has not had all her puppy immunization yet so she’s confined to the back yard and the house right now.
First there are raw bones which I never give to my dogs. My last female Labrador as a puppy 14 years ago had the same issues going on. I gave her a couple of beef bones that were from a pet store and sterilized. Even as a pup she would literally start to eat these within minutes. That is a ‘power chewer’. The bone could splinter and not only cause gastrointestinal blockage (indigestible material) but could cause lacerations somewhere along the digestion path.
Next you have what is called ‘bully sticks’ or ‘pizzle sticks’ which most are marketed as natural dog chews. Basically you have dried bull penis rolled or braided for chew. Many trainers swear by these. They look like they would not last long with my chewer, they smell and I am having an issue with what they are (I am a guy). Reportedly they have glucosamine and chondroitin which help with joints, a concern of any lab owner. My final decision not to try these rests on the fact that I simply think my gal would go through one of these in a matter of minutes and they are not cheap. A natural treat these may be great if you have a light chewer.
Rawhide dog chews are next. The opinion is mixed on rawhide and most trainers or show people speak out against rawhide due to cases of intestinal blockages occurring. I have found some relief with the compressed rawhide. The other type of rawhide product that can be rolled, braided, knotted etc. gets devoured quickly and I have to throw most away. If a piece gets small I take it away from her and give her something else. Unsupervised chewing is not allowed as I keep an eye on how much is being chewed. These items are for chewing not swallowing. So when it gets small it gets thrown away. Even with the compressed rawhide I never let the dog chew the whole thing and throw it away when it starts to soften.
There are commercial products out there. Nylonbone is one that makes several different products. Some of their newer items are made to be digested and are made out of plant materials. Honestly I have never had a dog that was interested in a nylonbone product other than the softer digestible ones, which are softer and disappear much too quickly. Greenies are another vegetable based product that sells well. I have heard of these causing blockages also so they are not for my chewers.
Another commercial product is the Kong brand dog chew toys and the other toys that are designed to hold treats and give the dog a challenge on trying to get the treats out. These are great as they are made of rubber and Kong makes a softer version just for puppies and their soft first teeth. If the pup cannot get that treat out as soon as they start they may loose interest quickly. My older dogs chewing large Kong with a large Milk bone jammed in was a happy scene. A new product in the Kong line is the Kong Genius line which is a bit more of a puzzle and made for older dogs.
For me compressed rawhide products and the Kong line of toys filled with treats and some peanut butter frozen or not are working to reassign that dog chewing to something other than my hands and arms. Always under supervision they keep my little mouthy lab occupied long enough for me to get some work done. Other than that daily training should give some control in six to nine months.