Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Use of Chew Toys

The Use of Chew Toys in Dog Training

Many pet owners give chew-toys to their puppies hoping that their puppies will not chew up their good shoes, table legs, couches, etc.

But unknown to them, chew-toys are the number one cause of destructive chewing.

Probably below are the common 'misconceptions' pet owners have for giving chew-toys to their dogs:

1. It's instinctive for a puppy to chew

Since he's going to chew on "something", it is better to give him a chew-toy and not our new shoes.

It is the instinctive nature for a puppy to chew. As human, we will instinctively pick up a new object to feel it; a puppy will investigate a new object by first smelling it, followed by chewing on the object to see if it's good for eating.

So it is unrealistic to get rib of such instinctive behaviour in our dogs. However, what we can do is to modify or control this behaviour by enhancing and strengthening desirable behaviours and diminishing and suppressing undesirable ones.

2. Chew-toys relieve boredom

Often a puppy chews things because he's bored, so it's better for him to chew on a nylon bone (chew-toy) when he gets bored.

But so is chewing a table leg. Think of it this way if your dog is going to chew to relieve boredom, guess what's going to happen when he gets bored and his chew toy is in another room and your shoe happens to be handy?

3. Puppies need chew-toys to develop their teeth and jaws

This is totally a misconception! By feeding a good diet to your puppy, including raw bones, your puppy will NOT need to chew nylon or rawhide to develop his teeth and jaws.

The Remedy

It is important to remember that from the time you bring your puppy home, you have to teach him not to put his teeth on anything that isn't food.

If he picks up a stick in the back yard and chews or plays with it, say nothing. But once he is inside the house, tells him firmly to "leave it" if the item he picks up is not food. Then make sure help him to change his focus to something else.

By doing this, we are helping the dog to suppress his instinct to chew.

Yes, your puppy will still get bored sometimes. But since nobody ever taught him to chew to relieve boredom, he will not chew to relieve his boredom.

So is there any a legitimate use for toys?

Toys such as canvas dummies, bird wings, Frisbees, and especially balls, are invaluable training aids. Very often toys like ball can be used to motivate a dog in his training routines and for bond building between you and the dog during play sessions. But we must always remember that the ball is not his. It's yours. So after playing or training, always remember to take the ball away from your dog. In doing so, you are getting your dog to relate to you and not the ball. That way, the ball and the play session become a strong motivator. By leaving the ball with him all the time, your puppy would have little interest in playing with it and you would lose your best means of motivating him.

So, there are legitimate uses for toys, but certainly not for chew-toys.

And remember to praise your dog abundantly when he does the right thing!

You Can Do It!

Kum Chee
A Happy Dog Lover and Owner

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