Taming the Chewing Instinct

All puppies need outlets for their energy, and all puppies have a tremendous urge to chew anything they can get their mouths around. Golden puppies seem to take particular pleasure in a good chew. How much of a problem this is directly relates to the limits you set with your Golden puppy from the start. Allow your Golden pup free run of the house too soon, and he will chew his way through it. A chew-happy Golden can end up causing a considerable amount of damage before he is through.

Contrary to popular opinion, Goldens don't simply outgrow their need to chew everything in sight. Without the proper training and guidance, they will chew right through adulthood. Prevention is a big part of the solution. Your Golden Retriever puppy can only chew the mahogany paneling, your Italian sandals, or the Bruce Springsteen boxed set if you give him access to these things. Use crates and gates to greatly cut down on the amount of destruction your pup can do. These tools also make it easier to train your puppy to chew on his own toys and bones, leaving your stuff alone. Provide a variety of toys, and rotate them on a regular basis. When your Golden puppy starts to get into trouble, redirect him onto a more appropriate chew toy, and praise him for chewing on it. In addition, be sure your Golden gets plenty of exercise and opportunity to play with other dogs. You want him tired at the end of the day. Lastly, make sure that your puppy is getting sufficient downtime for napping.

Overtired puppies — those that have had too much freedom for too long — tend to get into things. They are not easily redirected. Like overtired toddlers, they stop hearing “No!” and continue to get into mischief. Your ability to control destructive chewing depends on supervision and limit setting.

The first stage of chewing is puppy chewing, which occurs between two and six months. This is an exploratory stage of development, in which your Golden is using his sensitive mouth to explore his environment. Though it's painful when he uses his teeth to explore you, in this stage he isn't likely to cause extensive damage to your property.

At about six months, a Golden's adult teeth have come in and are beginning to set in the jaw. This is when the urge to chew is greatest. At six months, therefore, be on the lookout for your Golden to be tempted into some very destructive, damaging chewing. Just because your puppy is housebroken doesn't mean that he is ready to be out of a crate. Goldens in particular are fairly slow to mature. Give your Golden too much freedom too soon, and he will show you just how much trouble he can get himself into.

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