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Bringing a puppy home is a time of joy. But the pleasure of sharing your home with a puppy can soon diminish when he starts chewing up things in your house. As disagreeable as the act may be to a human, for a pup, chewing is a necessary part of its growing and learning process. Puppies chew to relieve the discomfort of teething and to investigate the world around them. Chewing is good for a pup – it stimulates gastric juices that aid in digestion and helps clean your pet's teeth. Pups need to be taught which items are acceptable chew toys and which are not.

Purchase safe chew toys that will keep his inquisitive mouth away from your furniture or plants. Purchase toys made of different textures — rubber, plastic, cloth, etc. for variety. Make sure the toys are of good quality with no parts that can come loose (like squeaks) or break as these are a choking hazard. Pick up any small dangerous objects lying around, tuck away hanging electrical wires, secure dustbins with fitting lids and put away household cleaners / glassware to prevent your pup from getting to them. Remove your carpet, books or any items on the coffee table till your pup is older.

When you catch him gnawing on an unacceptable item, remove the item from his mouth with a firm ”no,”then offer a chew toy. Praise him lavishly when he takes it. Ensure he gets plenty of outdoor exercise or he will turn to destroying your home in an effort to relieve his boredom.

Never discipline your puppy after he has chewed an item. A dog associates punishment to an act only if it is contiguous with the act. If you discover a chewed item even a few minutes after he's chewed it, you're too late to administer a correction. A little patience and caution can help you weather your puppy's chewing phase with ease.

(The author is India's leading canine behaviour counsellor and trainer, and the editor of the popular canine magazine – Woof! The Mag with a Wag! She can be contacted at info@woofmag.in)

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SHIRIN MERCHANT

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