How to Train a Puppy to Chew a Bone

Medium
4-14 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Chewing a bone should be one of the most enjoyable and relaxing activities that your dog does. We compare people who have just received something they wanted as being like a dog with a bone. Chewing bones is healthy for your dog's teeth and gums, relieves stress, and prevents destructive chewing on other things. If your puppy is more interested in chewing on your shoes or sofa than on a bone, there are some things you can do to teach your puppy to enjoy chewing on bones instead of on your things.

Defining Tasks

Variety is the spice of life for everyone, and puppies especially are driven to seek out new experiences. If your puppy seems to get bored of her bones quickly, it may be that she is seeking out more diverse chewing materials. Provide a wide range of chew toys and cycle them out frequently to maintain your puppy's interest. You can also spice up the boring chew toy by stuffing it with treats and freezing it, as allowable by the toy's manufacturer. 

If your puppy is consistently more interested in chewing your things than her bones, you may have a job ahead of you in redirecting chewing behavior. Be patient and persistent and you will find that she is able to learn what is appropriate for chewing, even though she would rather be chewing your things. 

Getting Started

The first and most important tools in teaching your puppy to chew a bone are, of course, the bones themselves. The more variety you can provide in chew toys the more motivated your dog will be to chew her bones, and the better able the bones will be to provide teething relief, as well as healthy stimulation for developing teeth and gums. 

Nylon teething bones are on obvious first choice for teething puppies, as the ridges and bumps provide pleasant stimulation to irritated gums. Nylon chews should not be too hard, nor should they break away in clumps. Rather, tiny chips and slivers of nylon, small enough to pass through your dog's digestive system in small quantities, should slowly and gradually be chewed off.

Natural chews of all types are great, but avoid weight-bearing bones of large animals, which can be too hard and can chip your dog's teeth. Also be careful of antlers or horns, which can become sharp and injure clumsy puppies. 

The Rotate Bones Method

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Step
1
Gather the chews
Gather as many chew toys and bones as you can find. Make them as desirable as possible, by stuffing with treats, rubbing with peanut butter, etc.
Step
2
Introduce one chew
Introduce one chew to your puppy and act as though it were very enticing, playing tug and keep away to build your pup's interest
Step
3
Remove before abandonment
Before your puppy leaves the chew, watch for decreasing interest and take the chew away from your puppy. Make a show of taking it and put it in plain sight.
Step
4
Introduce new chew
Introduce another chew, enticing just as you had with the first chew. Your puppy may be excited about this new chew, or she may remain focused on the old one.
Step
5
Reward with desired chew
As soon as your puppy shows preference for a chew by looking at it and not taking a new chew, reward her with that chew and let her chew until she appears to be losing interest. Keep doing this, using a variety of chews, until your puppy learns to value and enjoy chewing bones.
Recommend training method?

The Replace & Repeat Method

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Step
1
Watch closely
Watch your pup closely for inappropriate chewing. Remember that puppies can be sneaky, so keep your eye out for sneaking off to chew on the wall-side of the sofa.
Step
2
Replace quickly
As soon as your puppy attempts to chew on something she shouldn't, offer a treat-filled or otherwise desirable bone.
Step
3
Make sure she likes it
Make sure the bone you give is highly desirable to your dog. Ideally, it will be more desirable than the inappropriate thing she was chewing before.
Step
4
Keep watching
When your dog loses interest in the bone, watch her closely to see if she will chew something else. If she does, replace it with another high quality chew.
Step
5
Repeat
It may take many repetitions for your puppy to learn what is and is not appropriate for chewing. If you can't watch her, put her in a puppy-proof space.
Recommend training method?

The Pack Learning Method

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Step
1
No interest
If your puppy doesn't show interest in bones no matter how hard you try to teach her, you can enlist other dogs to help you.
Step
2
Safe space
Set up a crate or pen for your pup where she will be able to clearly see and smell the other dog or dogs, but won't be able to interact or worry about her bone being stolen.
Step
3
Dole out bones
Give a high value bone to all dogs. Your puppy may do nothing, or may look to you for guidance. Ignore her.
Step
4
Calm presence
Be a calm presence for the dogs. The other dog or dogs will settle down to chew their bones. Your dog may show some anxiety at first, but is likely to watch the other dogs.
Step
5
Encourage interest
Eventually your dog will go from watching the other dogs to showing interest in her own bone. Encourage her interest until she tries chewing as well.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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