Chew Toy Swapping3 minute read
Did the title of this article give away the whole idea? It probably did.
Still, if you're unclear what "chew toy swapping" is, here's a description:
When your dog is biting on something inappropriate, give her a chew toy to bite instead.
That's it. That's the whole idea. For a few more nuances and some specific suggestions though, keep reading.
Toy Swapping Is Your Best Defense Against a Bad Biting Habit
We've told you that puppy biting goes away on its own as your puppy matures. That's still true. We stand by that. Your puppy's urge to bite this frequently and this intensely will certainly decrease as she gets older; however, that doesn't mean she couldn't develop a bad habit along the way.
The best way to ensure that biting on inappropriate things, like your hands or your pant leg, doesn't become a habit she carries with her into adulthood, is to show her what she should bite on instead. That's exactly what chew toy swapping is.
Swap out the inappropriate biting target with an appropriate biting target. Over and over again. In this way, your pup will learn what she should bite on and what she should not bite on.
Find a Chew Toy Your Dog Likes
All chew toys are not created equal in the eyes of your puppy. Maybe you've heard fancy wine drinkers talk about "mouthfeel," well, when it comes to chew toys, your puppy might prefer the mouthfeel of different toys.
The best place to start is looking at what your puppy seems to bite or chew on the most. Then, figure out how you can give her an appropriate version of that to chew on.
Some types of objects to consider:
Soft rubber toys
These come the closest to mimicking biting on your hands. If that's something your pup seems to love, you might want to give her a soft rubber toy to chew.
A cloth toy might just be a big sock tied into a knot. If your dog likes chewing on your pant legs, then a cloth toy is probably the way to go.
Hard nylon toys
These resemble a hard plastic but are made of a safe material for your dog. If you find your pup chewing on wooden furniture then a hard nylon toy might be the way to go.
Bones combine two of your puppy's favorite things: biting and food.
Those are just some ideas. Feel free to experiment with all of them. As with anything you give your pup, be sure to watch for any potential issues. If your pup breaks off a piece that's small enough for her to swallow and potentially choke on, it's time to get a new toy.
Become a Robot
Chew toy swapping can become a surprisingly monotonous task. Given how much young puppies like to bite, you might feel like you're constantly pulling your puppy's mouth off of something and inserting a chew toy. The never ending swapping can make you start to feel like a robot. You'll start doing it without even thinking. You'll probably even dream about it. Just know that's normal.
If It's Not Working
We don't want to give you any false hope. Chew toy swapping doesn't always work. You may take your dog's mouth off your pant leg and give her a rubber bone and she might immediately drop that bone and latch back on to your pant leg.
There's no point in trying to reason with your puppy. If you feel like you've sufficiently tried the swapping technique and your pup still wants to bite on your new pair of pants, then it's time to try a different technique like active rest.