Written by: Kelsey Edwards (@kelseymcdogtrainer)
A common question new puppy parents ask themselves is how to get their puppy to stop nipping, mouthing, and biting! Those baby teeth are razor sharp, and sometimes it seems like all your puppy wants to do is chew your baseboards, furniture and even your hands. When we want to modify any behaviour with our dogs, it is critical to understand why our dog is doing it.
First things first, we have to remember our pup’s mouths are really going through it! Do you remember how painful losing teeth was when you were a kid? Imagine that pain, but instead of it being 1 or 2 teeth at a time over the course of several years – it’s all of them over the course of a few of months. Ouch! Try to treat the pain using frozen puppy safe teethers, or even by freezing our Bone Broth into cubes!
Puppies get mouthy for other reasons too, and usually it comes from a need not being met. Similar to a baby’s cry, puppies may get mouthy when they have to go to the bathroom, when they are hungry or thirsty and most commonly, when they are bored. The solution to boredom isn’t just physical exercise - mental exercise, also known as enrichment, is necessary. Below are some really easy (and low cost) ways to add enrichment to your pup’s routine.
⋆ Feed your Open Farm Puppy Dry Dog Food in a slow feed bowl. This turns meal time into enrichment time. When a puppy has to work a little harder for their meal, their brain starts working! Other options include a puzzle toy, treat dispensing ball, or get creative and use a muffin tin or anything you think would work!
⋆ Teach your dog the joy of sniffing! Our pups see the world largely through their noses so we want to foster that sniffing! On walks, when you go to new places be sure to give your dog plenty of time to sniff! You will notice that your dog seems more tired than usual, and that’s because sniffing can be more work than a power walk for most dogs. You can also try treat searches with Open Farm’s Dehydrated Treats. Break them apart and scatter them around on a high pile rug. Encourage your dog to sniff and find the treats. For more advanced noses, you can bury the treats in the folds of a blanket.
⋆ Create fun new toys that your dog is allowed to destroy! Dissecting toys and items is very natural and satisfying for young pups, but it can get costly. Use some household items that you would have thrown out anyway like toilet/paper towel rolls. Take one end and pinch it closed. Add in a piece of the Open Farm’s Surf & Turf Freeze Dried Raw (these are VERY high value, it gives your dog something they want to desperately get to), and pinch the other end closed. Give it to your dog and encourage them to GO FOR IT! If they seem a little nervous and unsure at first, keep the top end open. Enrichment should be just hard enough, but not impossible. We don’t want our dogs getting frustrated and giving up!
So this is how we can use enrichment to not only help our puppies keep their mouths busy, but also help tackle puppy boredom. What’s your favorite way to do enrichment with your dog, or which one are you going to try first? Let us know!
To purchase everything Kelsey has recommended, try our Puppy Pack to ensure you’ve got everything your bundle of bouncing fur needs.