You’ve got your puppy a nice new bed, and he’s already chewing it to pieces. I know the feeling. This article will explain why pups do this, and more importantly, how you can prevent it.
Teething is the driving factor behind why puppies destroy their bed. Apart from teething, puppies chew things out of boredom and to keep themselves mentally stimulated. Your puppy will also be practicing their “bite threshold”.
Everything will be explained in full detail below, and how to save your costly puppy bed!
4 Reasons Why Your Puppy Destroys Their Bed
Before moving on to how to stop the behavior, it helps to know why he’s doing it in the first place. This will allow you to better tackle the issue. It could be one, or a combination of the following issues.
1. Teething Pains
Teething starts at around 3 weeks and usually lasts until around 6-8 months old. For some puppies, it may end sooner than this.
To put it simply, your puppy will receive valuable pain relief through chewing and biting. Chewing essentially massages his sensitive/tingly gums and provides blood flow to the area. This helps reduce inflammation and provides pain relief.
Teething is the No.1 reason why puppies chew anything and everything, let alone his bed.
2. Learning How To Use His Mouth & Bite
Puppies need to learn a lot of important lessons about how to use their mouth. After all, dogs don’t use their paws like we use our hands, so they rely heavily on their mouth and muzzle.
Puppies receive many essential lessons especially their bite threshold with their mother and siblings before they are removed. But it doesn’t stop there, your puppy will still feel the urge to chew and bite for several months longer.
Different objects with different textures require different chewing power, and this is important for your pup to learn.
3. Practicing His Instinctual Hunting Skills
Breeds that have strong prey drives will be inclined to practice their hunting skills.
Sometimes the way your puppy will pounce on his bed, grip and shake it, is exactly how they would act in the wild when catching prey.
Even though dogs have been domesticated for a short while, they are still very in-tune with their natural instincts and survival skills. And this will all be exhibited throughout puppyhood.
4. It’s Entertaining & Fun
Sometimes there isn’t any other reason than finding it fun and entertaining.
Part of being a puppy is playing a lot, and just as kids do, puppies can turn anything into a game, especially when left to their own devices.
This can be particularly true if your bed is soft and rippable. The moment your puppy realizes he can rip the material apart, it’s showtime! This will be as good as any other toy for him at this stage.
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4 Steps To Stop Your Puppy Destroying His Bed
It’s not going to be possible, nor is it encouraged to completely stop a puppy from chewing.
As explained above, most chewing and biting provide either valuable lessons or valuable relief for your puppy. So stopping it altogether is not a good solution.
1. Provide a range of toys
It’s important to have plenty of toys with different textures for your puppy to choose from. If your puppy is chewing his soft squishy bed, then be sure to have plenty of soft squishy toys.
To help keep him focused on his toys, incorporate them while playing with him. Associate chewing his toys with positive tones of voice and reactions. Introduce treats and your best “good boy” voice while he’s chewing what he should be chewing.
One way to prevent him from getting bored with toys is to rotate them. Keep a few down, and the moment you sense that they are losing their appeal, pick them up and switch them out for another set. Repeat when needed.
2. Introduce plenty of basic command training
Basic command training has many residual benefits, aside from increased obedience, mental stimulation is one of the other extremely valuable take-aways.
Receiving sufficient mental stimulation in the form of training nearly always helps dogs and puppies to feel satisfied and content. It goes a long way in preventing boredom and frustration.
A well-stimulated, mentally tired puppy will be more inclined to simply rest in their bed rather than chew it.
Introduce basic command training like sit, stay, come, lay down, paw with plenty of treats and positive reinforcement.
3. Redirect Unwanted Chewing
When you catch your puppy in the act, it’s crucial to use that opportunity to show him you do not approve of this behavior. This applies when chewing anything he isn’t allowed to.
When you catch him, give your puppy a stern “No!” before redirecting him to a toy that he is allowed to chew. After his attention remains on that toy for 5-10 seconds, reward him for it.
This will be an ongoing process that you need to be very consistent with. Within a few weeks of redirecting him from the various objects he is not allowed to chew on, he will have a very good idea of what he can chew and what he cannot chew.
4. Bitter Apple Spray (only works for some)
This works well for some puppies, and for others, it has the opposite effect.
Bitter apple spray is designed as a safe, but foul-tasting liquid you can spray on items you don’t want your puppy to bite or chew.
For some puppies and grown dogs, it works incredibly well, and that was the case for my labrador rocky. It stopped chair-leg chewing instantly.
But I’ve also had many friends who tried using it and their dog ended up enjoying the spray and only chewing items that had been sprayed! What a backfire that was!
The sprays are inexpensive and I still recommend giving it a go. If it doesn’t work, stop using it, and if it does work, you’ve got another trick up your sleeve.
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Should You Punish Your Puppy For Chewing His Bed?
Many methods of punishment are either unfair or simply ineffective. So let’s clear this question up.
Hitting, smacking, or clipping him on the nose are all bad examples of punishments. And punishing your puppy after the deed has been done is absolutely pointless.
The most effective punishment is a simple “No!” in a deep, serious tone of voice, in the correct moment. There’s no need for physical contact, naughty steps, or any other bizarre trick.
Dog behavioral experts have already proven that dogs only receive the benefit of a “punishment” if caught in the act. If any amount of time has passed since doing the deed, the connection is incredibly hard for your dog to make, even if they still look guilty when you tell them off.
If you catch your puppy chewing something he shouldn’t, in that exact moment, give him a serious “No!” in a slightly raised, deep tone of voice. And that will be all the punishment he needs.
After saying “No!”, remember to redirect his behavior, and praise him once his attention is firmly on his toy. After all, there’s no point in punishment without a lesson being learned.
And lastly, excessive punishment mixed with the wrong timing will just weaken his trust in you, which will, in turn, encourage him to disobey you in the future. This can lead to more frustration and bad behavior down the line.
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Save Your Expensive Dog Bed
Hopefully, the dog bed you purchased was big enough to take an adult dog, if not, you may as well keep it down, and let your pup get the most out of it before he grows out of it…
If the dog bed will last him into adulthood, it’s a good idea to save it while you can. Buy a cheaper bed for now while your puppy learns not to destroy it.
Remember that your puppy will still be teething up to 8 or even 9 months of age. This means chewing will always be an issue up to this point.
Opt for a hard plastic bed that you can lay some old blankets down in. This will suffice for now.
Bed Chewing Issues During Adulthood
Bed chewing (or destroying) can be an issue that carries on into adulthood, or may even develop in adulthood.
Adult dogs who have chewing issues are typically understimulated, not receiving enough exercise, are stressed or anxious, or have never been trained.
I assume you have a puppy and that’s why you landed on this article. So the best advice you take from this would be to start training and developing good habits early and be sure to establish a healthy daily routine that fulfills your dog’s wants and desires.
The longer bad habits and behavior continue, the harder they are to break and train against. Create good routines and behavior throughout puppyhood, and adulthood will be a breeze.
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If your puppy is currently in the process of destroying his bed. First of all, switch it out for a cheap one while you survive the teething process and teach him better behavior.
Most of the chewing and biting that puppies partake in is actually a healthy habit that’s both educational and stimulating for them. So trying to stop chewing all together is not a recommended approach.
The best way to prevent your puppy from chewing is to provide him with plenty of appealing toys with a variety of textures to experience. Rotate these toys to stop them from getting boring. You can then increase the amount of training and mental stimulation he receives, as well as redirecting the chewing when you manage to catch him in the act.
Chewing may take a while to overcome, and your consistency will be fundamental to how long it takes. Be a good teacher, leader, and refrain from punishing him when you don’t catch him in the act. And when you do punish him, a stern “No!” is all you need.