Homepage Basic obedience training Is Your Puppy Treating You Like a Chew Toy?

April 4, 2019

Blog thumbnail

Is Your Puppy Treating You Like a Chew Toy?

If your puppy is treating you like a chew toy then tune in to this episode of Puppy Lunch & Learn. Carly Vokey talks about how to identify 3 types of biting behavior as well as how to correct. She also answers numerous questions from viewers of our live broadcast.

[00:02] Our star had to use the powder room one more time. Unsuccessfully, but we’ll see. He’s doing a lot of sniffing, I’m a little nervous. But we’ll see how it does. So hello and welcome to everybody joining us today for our very first Puppy Lunch and Learn. Woo hoo! Is your puppy treating you like a chew toy? Well stay tuned, because we are going to give you some tips that you can use today. But before we get started, I wanted to introduce myself. I am Traci Bisson. I’m the owner of It Takes a Village Pet Care here in Barrington. And I am here today with Carly Vokey of Carly Vokey Positive Dog Training, also located in Barrington. And then the star of our show, who you will meet in just a moment, is Lanny. He is an almost 13-week-old puppy, Beagle puppy from Barrington. Should we bring him out?

Yeah, I’m going to bring him out.

Come on out, Lanny. There he is!

[01:19] So today, Carly will share with us three reasons why puppies bite, as well as how to understand and correct the behavior. So we will be taking your questions today as well, I’ll be going on and off screen to monitor them on our live broadcast. Go ahead and ask your questions; we will answer, and whatever we can’t get to today, we will, at the end of the 30 minute broadcast, we will definitely get your questions answered on the replay. So again, Carly and Lanny, take it away.

Hi! So this is Lanny. He’s what, 13 weeks?

[02:05] Almost 13 weeks. So he’s the perfect candidate for this. Let me start with talking about young puppy biting. That’s biting that you see in brand new puppies, up to about five and a half to six months. And this is when they are biting you and everything else. Your clothing, objects, everything’s a toy. Often it’s very gentle biting, kind of just mouthing at everything. This is actually something that’s very important for their development. It’s important for the environmental understanding, as well their social development.

Acquired Bite Inhibition

[02:42] So a bit of this is actually okay; dogs have what is called acquired bite inhibition. And they learn it through their litter mates and their mother for other dogs. And that’s kind of when they figure out what’s okay for dog on dog play and interaction. It’s not until they come home to you that they learn bite inhibition with people. So a little bit of mouthing, some kind of gentle nibbling and stuff, that’s okay, and it’s actually important to let them do. If it starts getting too hard, then that’s … he’s actually going kind of easy right now. But if he were to go too hard, then that’s when you would exclaim. Say like, “Ah!” Or “Ahh!” Or you’ve heard “yip like a dog,” you can do that too. I say it’s not important to sounds like a dog. Your puppy knows you’re not a dog. You’re obviously the funniest looking dog that they have ever seen. So just exclaim in a way that lets them know, “I didn’t like that.”


[03:40] And then, redirection is huge. Allowing them to do something different. For that kind of biting, it’s social, it’s interaction. I like to redirect them to kisses. I like to teach puppies to kiss on demand. So when they do something that hurts, say, “Ah-ah! And then ask for kisses. The way that you do is you capture kissing when it happens. When they’re licking you, “Good kisses.” Oh, what a good boy. What are you doing, you goofball?

So that’s one kind of biting. The mouthing, the social, the exploration biting.


[04:24] So in that situation, you can kind of see on screen that he’s nipping at Traci in a way that kind of hurts. He’s getting really playful now, so he’s kind of turning into play biting. Play biting, again, they kind of overlap; there’s that bite inhibition. You really want to make sure all play you do with puppies, you’re using toys. Get all kinds of different toys for play. All kinds of different things to explore. And the reason is if you have toys, it’s going to be incredibly easy to redirect them to the toys, versus your … what are you doing?

[05:13] Versus your flesh, or your clothing. Or other things that he shouldn’t be eating. Do not wrestle your puppies. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but it is 100% said for a reason. If you wrestle your dogs, you’re playing like a dog, your dog will play with you like a dog. And you don’t want that, I don’t know if you’ve ever watched dogs play. But they are biting, and pulling, and ripping at each other, and there’s times that even I watch dogs play and it’s like, “Oh, that’s got to hurt.” So yeah, you don’t want that, you don’t want that to happen to you. So make sure you always have at least one toy available when it’s playtime. Are you going to dig something up?

What types of toys are good for my puppy?

[07:01] Well, I’ll get started talking about toys. You can interrupt me at any point. And all right, so one of the important things to consider when you have toys for puppies is that you have all different styles of toys, specifically textures. Puppies are huge about exploration with textures; so here, we already have a bunch of different stuff out for him. This one has kind of a soft canvas-y with a rope. This one has different textures of hard plastic with canvas interlaced. This one has kind of a nice soft but scratchy side, but the rest is canvas. Got all kinds of other fun stuff to show too. So one things that I want to point out, and I specifically left it on this toy, little tags. Toys all have little tags on them. You want to rip them off, so let me do that. And then you can have this, here you go. Go to town.

[08:14] There’s also puppy KONG toys. The puppy toys, they come in blue and pink. They’re extra soft. You want to make sure when getting chew toys for puppies that they are okay for dogs under six months, because some are really, really hard, and they could actually hurt, damage their little puppy teeth.

[11:44] This is one that I actually opened up and let him play with. It’s crinkly, it’s got ribbed soft stuff. When you think of chew toys, a lot of times you think Nylabones and KONGS, and those are all great. But with puppies, they want more than that, and they actually really like having some soft alternatives. So allowing them that, stuff like this, the ones with no stuffing are my favorite, because I’m not a big fan of cleaning up stuffing.

12:19 And then there’s rope toys. Rope toys, there’s a lot of controversy about. A lot of people are very anti-rope toys because they can ingest the rope and it can be an issue. A big rule of thumb with toys in general, I’d say the only toy that I’d really recommend totally unsupervised is a KONG toy that is appropriately sized and the right age group for the puppy/dog. All over toys, you want to see how they do with them over a very, very long period of time. With a puppy, even longer, because as they get their adult teeth, they’re going to become more and more aggressive with their toys. They’re going to be able to be more destructive towards them. Some dogs will try to consume toys, other dogs won’t try to consume toys. But you don’t want to find out what kind of dog your dog is by what you come home to when they’ve been alone with a toy.

Is it OK to wrestle with my puppy?

[08:45] Question: At what age can you wrestle with your dog? Is there any age that it’s appropriate?

[08:55] Maybe once they’re adults it’s okay. Up to six months, I’d say absolutely not. Make sure they know it is not okay to mouth and bite at you. Once they figure out the bite inhibition for people, then I supposed it’s probably okay, so long as you can calm them down when it gets too intense.

[09:20] That actually makes me think of what I call “the fun switch game,” and that’s a good game to play with puppies and older dogs. When dogs get riled up, and I’d say I would especially do this for older puppies. ‘Cause little puppies, they have some trouble controlling their energy sometimes. They really just need a time out, and they need to be put somewhere calm, everything needs to get calm. But back to the game, you get them really, really riled up, and you’re playing with them. Going crazy, waving toys in their face.

[09:52] And then if they do anything undesirable – nipping, biting, jumping, grabbing, anything that it just too much – all of a sudden, that fun switch should turn it right off. And, “Ah, ah!” Hands up, energy up. You just become as boring as you possibly can. Wait a couple minutes. Wait for your dog to calm down and realize, “Aw, crap. My human’s really boring now. I must have done something they really didn’t like.” Then, you can turn the fun switch back on. And go crazy and have fun. And if your dog gets really good at playing really crazy like that, and not biting really hard, jumping, doing all those undesirable things, then I’d say at that point, it’s probably okay to wrestle.

[10:44] In general, I say it’s always better to start out strict with your puppy and your expectations in what you allow, and then become more lenient as they get older, rather than doing the backwards thing. Trying to allow certain things and realize it’s not really working and have to make something that was okay before all of a sudden not okay anymore. Oh, is this so fun.


My puppy is biting my shoes. Should I give him a pair to play with?

[13:21] Question: If my puppy is biting my shoes, should I give him a spare shoe as a toy to get him to stop biting my good shoes?

That is a really good question. I would say no, because your shoes have a certain scent. “Ah, ah, ah!” Here, let’s give you something that doesn’t have a tag on it.

Your shoes have a scent to them, and if it’s a shoe that has been used, I’d say a no go. It’s something that should be off limits all together. If your dog likes shoes, I would say totally out of the picture entirely; keep them in a closet or up high. Make sure that your puppy cannot get to your shoes.

[16:12] When they’re on his feet is actually related, because that is puppy biting if they’re on you. Be as boring as you possibly can. When your dog is mouthing at your feet, doing a, “Ah, ah!” Don’t move your feet, don’t run away. Your dog wants to chase your shoes. If you can, get out something that he can have. A toy. You can even just sort of try to redirect him to something else for a second that allows you to go get a toy. Then that’s the best thing to do, try to get him doing something he should do.

In general, I like the idea of every time you tell your dog, “Don’t do something,” show them what they should be doing. ‘Cause a dog can get immune to “no’s.” If you’re like, “No, don’t do this. Don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.” Your dog will be like, “Well, you know, what can I do? I’m just going to do what I want to do. ‘Cause I can’t do anything right.” And you don’t want that. You want a dog that is learning as much what should be done as they are what shouldn’t.

[17:17] That actually reminded me of a big issue that a lot of my clients have run into, which is foot biting. When you’re in socks or bare feet, but mostly when you’re in socks. It’s really, really rough to ignore, because especially with those puppy teeth, it hurts. For that, I recommend getting yourself some good slippers, make it so when your puppy is mouthing at your feet, you can still be as boring as possible. Redirect them to more fun play.

Inappropriate Chewing

[14:28] Anything that is inappropriate should remain inappropriate always. Having exceptions here and there can make it really confusing for a puppy. That’s actually, with our very first puppy before I was a dog trainer, was a big mistake that we made. There’d be an item that we’re like, “Oh, we don’t want you to have it.” But then we’d go away, and we’d come back, and it was destroyed, and we’d like, “Okay. Well, you can have that one. But this one, that’s the exact same thing but different, you can’t have.” And that didn’t work out so good. So from experience as a non-experienced puppy owner, don’t do that.

Can my puppy chew on sticks?

[15:13] Question: Are sticks bad for dogs to chew on? Both puppies and older dogs?

Again, very much depends on the dog and what they do with them. Consuming sticks is really not a good thing. My older dog is obsessed with wood. We have a wood stove, unfortunately, so he loves trying really hard to get at the wood, at the bark, and there’s been a couple times he’s succeeded. And there’s wood vomit all over the place, and it’s really gross. But if the dog is just kind of chewing on them, not ingesting them, I don’t really see too much of an issue. I get familiar with what kind of wood it is they’re chewing, ’cause some wood isn’t really good for dogs. But again, I think that’d be a great topic for another time, maybe, what is and isn’t hazardous to dogs.

How do I teach my child proper puppy interaction?

[19:56] Question: We have a customer who has a puppy as well, little bit older than Lanny. But has a younger child. And the child was playing with the dog, and the dog accidentally ripped her dress. And she was really upset. Is there any advice you might give in regards to children interacting with puppies when they’re nipping for pet owners?

[20:25] There’s two things that I tell kids they can try when a puppy is getting too crazy. The first thing, above everything, is when a puppy’s getting too crazy, a kid should know to flag down an adult. An adult should be able to be there fairly quickly to mediate the situation. In the meantime, getting to higher ground, standing up on a chair, or a couch or something. And either become tall like a tree, or small like a rock. Tall like a tree is great for smaller puppies. That means you’re standing up really, really tall, really still. Hands up in the air and just pretend you’re a tree. And no matter how much the puppy is jumping and being crazy, just be as boring as possible. It’s more likely that the puppy will just get bored and move onto something else.

[21:19] Small like a rock, same concept, but instead, you’re getting down like this. Make sure your hands are inside. I have my hair down, so that might be really fun. But then the dog’s going to sniff around. Be like, “Oh, what are you doing?” And then as soon as he realizes that you’re being super boring, they’ll go away, try to do something else. But the best thing you can do is flag down a parent.

[21:44] There’s something that happens with puppies. They just get over the top, kind of similar to kids. They just reach a level of energy that they cannot come down from on their own. Kids and puppies together, they tend to reach that, and sometimes they reach it together. And that’s when it all falls apart. Time outs are okay. I don’t like to think of time outs as a punishment. I still treat puppies to go into the crate when they’re having a time out. But their crate is their safe space, their calm space; that’s where they go to take naps, to chill out. And it’s really important for them to have a space like that, that just means, “This is relax time.” Think of it, you have a young kid, and they are just bouncing off the walls, and just totally losing it. That’s when you would sit them down to do something calm, maybe watch TV together. Or set them up with a coloring book, an activity that is really, really chill. Same thing for puppies – sometimes they just go over the top and you need to intervene in order to calm them down.

Should I use a chew deterrent spray?

[23:16] Question: What do you think of chew deterrent sprays? Are they bad for dogs? Do they even work?

Neither of my dogs care whatsoever about chew deterrents, but I’ve also had clients that say they work great. One of the things you need to do to make them work is apply them constantly. Every time your dog goes for the thing, you need to reapply it. Every couple hours, you need to reapply it. So obviously, that kind of turns it in to more work than you may want to do. If you are talking furniture and stuff like that, that can’t really be moved or altered, then give it a shot. See if it’ll work. If it doesn’t work, then trying to only supervise around the furniture.

100% Puppy Supervision

[24:11] Something that is super great to do with a dog, but I understand it’s really unrealistic is as they’re puppies, and they’re still learning what’s acceptable in their environment, 100% supervision at all times while out of their crate, or out of a totally 100% puppy-safe pen. Some even go as far as tethering their puppy to themselves while they go about their day about the house. Great idea. Again, I understand that it’s not necessarily realistic. But hey, if you want a perfect puppy really quick, that’s a good way to do it. ‘Cause then every single thing they do, they get to learn that that’s not okay, and you get to give them an alternative. Stashing toys everywhere too. I always say stash treats, stash toys, so you can get to all of it as quickly as possible.

When does puppy biting stop?

[25:11] Question: How long can it take to correct puppy biting? Should I get discouraged if my puppy isn’t receptive after a particular amount of time?”

Well, it depends on the kind of biting again. Mouthing, exploration, that’s going to subside on its own around six months. The play biting and stuff, if you are very, very adamant about always turning off the fun switch when the puppy starts getting too crazy and too bite-y and redirecting to toys, then depends on the puppy. But it might take a couple months, it might take the full six months.

You should see progress as long as you’re super, super consistent. You stick to the same thing. A big mistake a lot people make is they will try something for a couple weeks and say, “Oh, that’s not working.” So then they try a different technique for a couple weeks and say, “Oh, that’s not working.” You have to stick to one and keep up with it, be consistent, because that’s the only way they’re going to learn. So yeah, if you’re talking demand, we didn’t get to really touch on that too much. But demand biting, biting to try to get you to do something, you really want to ignore it as best you can. But that’ll depend entirely on how long that kind of biting has been working for them and it’s been getting them what they want.

About Carly and Carly Vokey Positive Dog Training

[26:39] This has been our first Puppy Lunch and Learn live broadcast. We welcome your feedback and questions for future live broadcasts with other guests. Before we go, I want to give Carly the opportunity to let you know about her business, Carly Vokey Positive Dog Training. And also Carly, can you tell us how people can reach you?

Yes. So my website is CarlyVokeyDogTraining.com. It is currently under construction, but there are links to my Facebook page and my Instagram there. You can contact me both places. Facebook Messenger, I’m really good at getting in contact with. You can also call and email me. I’m a dog trainer. I do private lessons in your home and I’ve been training for about three years. I’ve been studying for about five, and I am continuing to study because there’s never too much to learn.

It Takes a Village Pet Care and I have had quite a few mutual clients, and it’s an awesome connection, it’s an awesome partnership. And because of that, I offer $10 off the first service for anyone who is part of the It Takes a Village family. That way, Traci and her team can be consistent with the training you do with me. And I’m able to recommend to you services that I know that she offers that’d be great to keep up their training. It’s really helpful for us and for you.

[28:23] Thank you very much to Carly. And to little Lanny, our little Beagle. And again, if you guys have any questions that we didn’t get to, please leave them. And on the replay, we will go back and review. And Carly will answer all your questions. Thank you everybody for joining us on our first live broadcast. We appreciate your support. Have a great day everyone!

Lanny, you wanna say goodbye?

Woof woof!

August 6, 2020 at 9:44 PM

My puppy is 2 months old , beagle mix, he is mouthing and bites me a lot. He bites down pretty hard sometimes , when I try to give him a toy as a replacement he is often uninterested and keeps going for my hand over and over. How can I get this biting behavior to stop? It especially makes me nervous when sometimes there is a growl involved, I know probably playful and I have heard beagles growl when they play. But I don’t think redirecting works for him. Please help!

    August 22, 2020 at 11:09 AM

    Hi Amanda – thanks for your comment. We are not trainers so I invite you to join the NH Dog Walking Club where the trainers in our network hang out. Ask your questions and get a quick response. Member ship is free. Learn more at https://ittakesavillagenh.com/pet-care/dog-walking-club/ – Thanks!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.