Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Puppy Love . Chewing

This is the first in a series of posts for those of you who have puppies in your lives.

Puppies learn about their environment by putting things in their mouths. With that in mind, puppy proof your home before bringing puppy home. Remove those cute collectibles on low shelves, as well as framed photographs, books, CDs, etc. Exposed electric cords need to be hidden. Drapes to the floor? Great for a game of tug. And, of course, wooden table legs are always a favorite of teething puppies. If you have young children, understand that puppy does not know the difference in kid toys and dog toys. If you are not a neatnik you might want to become one, since shoes, socks, underwear, purses, cell phones, remotes, magazines, newspapers, candy dishes on low tables, etc. are puppy favorites.

Make sure there are appropriate chew toys available for puppy:

  • Kongs (keyword search "kongs" on this blog for stuffing suggestions)
  • Sterilized natural bones - stuff just like the Kong
  • Nylabones
  • Plush squeaky toys - only with supervision, as you don't want the squeaker to be removed and ingested by a playful pup
Do not buy toys with small sewn-on parts that can be easily torn off and ingested. If part of a toy or chewie becomes lodged in puppy's intestines, surgery may be required. In the very worst case, death can occur. Always supervise puppy's play. Puppies have more ways to get in trouble than you can possibly imagine. And literally everything goes in their mouths.

Puppy proof not only your home but your deck, yard, and vehicle. Poisons (including house plants like dieffenbachia, lily of the valley, mistletoe, philodendron, and poinsettia) mustbe put away. There should be a gate at every stairway and trash cans should be out of reach. Yards are full of things puppies like to investigate. Make certain all poisonous substances (fertilizer, antifreeze, etc.) are out of reach. If your yard is fenced in, make sure there are no spaces a puppy can squeeze through and never leave a young dog unsupervised outdoors. Put the gardening tools away. Their handles make wonderful chew toys. Understand that if you have a yard your new pal may dig holes, bed down in the flowers, chew the corners off of deck steps, and bark at everything from butterflies to falling leaves. She may eat dirt and rocks and parts of trees. She is, after all, a dog.

Remember to praise puppy for playing with her toys rather than household items. And enjoy her, despite her razor sharp teeth. Soon enough she will be a mature adult and that adorable puppy will be only a fond memory.

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