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Puppies like to chew anything they can, even electrical cords! If your puppy is chewing on an electrical cord, they can compromise the insulative coating of the wire and make contact with the conductive materials, resulting in an electric shock to the mouth. While this may deter him from chewing on cords in the future, you would be surprised how often it does not!
More importantly, receiving a shock from a compromised electric cord can result in severe electrical burns to your puppy's mouth, requiring veterinary attention. Even worse, a severe enough shock can be fatal to your new puppy. Even if your puppy does not manage to shock himself, chewing on electrical cords will soon become expensive, as electrical appliances are ruined by this dangerous habit.
Puppies chew for a variety of reasons. Like all babies, including human ones, when their teeth are coming in they experience discomfort that is relieved by chewing. Also, puppies are curious, and they have not yet figured out what tastes good and what is good to chew, so they are constantly investigating. Dogs and puppies also chew to strengthen teeth and gums, or to relieve boredom or anxiety. Puppies are easily bored or become anxious when left alone and taking precautions to avoid your young dog becoming injured from inappropriate chewing is necessary.
It is imperative that your puppy not chew electrical cords that could result in serious injury or even death from electrocution if he bites into an electrical wire. Because this is critical, supervising your puppy and preventing him from having access to wires is important. There are several strategies to keep wires away from puppy until he learns to leave them alone as he matures, including moving or covering wires or creating a safe wire-free zone for puppy. During training, you will want to provide alternatives, distract your puppy from wires, create a negative association with chewing on electrical wires, and create a command you can use to instruct your puppy to leave wires alone. A 'leave it' command can be used to direct your puppy not only to leave wires alone, but can be applied to lots of other dangerous or unsavory items he may be motivated to chew on, and is useful in a variety of situations.
You will want to ensure you have treats on hand to reward leaving wires alone and redirect your puppy away from wires. When teaching your puppy to “leave it”, treats of varying value can be used to establish the command. Alternatives such as chew toys and rawhide bones can be used to meet puppies' chewing needs and will be useful in redirecting behavior. During training, it will be important to make sure puppy doesn't accidentally have access to or chew wires. Covering wires or investing time in moving, unplugging, and putting wires out of reach is important for your dog's safety.
The Leave It Method
Present closed hand
Hold a low value treat, like regular dry dog kibble in a closed hand and present it to your puppy.
Introduce 'leave it'
As your puppy investigates your hand with the kibble, say “leave it”, ignore his attempts to reach the treat. Keep your hands closed. When your puppy gives up, repeat “leave it”, and provide a high value treat from your other hand. Repeat several times.
Use open hand
Present a low value treat in your open hand. When your puppy approaches, say “leave it”, If your puppy hesitates, immediately supply a high value treat from your other hand. If he approaches the low value treat, close your hand, repeat “leave it”. Practice until your puppy is leaving the treat in response to the command.
Leave treats out
Start leaving kibble around the house and using the “leave it” command to teach your puppy to leave the kibble, when he complies, provide a better treat.
Apply to wires
Supervise your puppy around electrical wires. When he approaches a wire, say “leave it”, when he hesitates, reward him. Continue supervising and rewarding your puppy for leaving electric wires until your puppy is complying to the 'leave it' command.
The Deter Method
Keep your puppy away from cords when unsupervised by using a crate, or creating a safe play area with barriers, where there are no wires present.
Remove the opportunity by putting cords up out of reach, unplugging appliances and coiling up cords, or using painter's tape or duct tape to elevate cords out of reach.
Use taste deterrent
Make sure there are no cracks or breaches in electrical cords that will allow liquid in, and cover or spray cords with foul tasting deterrent. Deterrent is available at pet stores, but can also be made with a combination of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water.
Use aluminum foil
Unplug wires and wrap in aluminum foil. When your puppy goes to chew on the cord he will get a harmless shock, an unpleasant sensation, but because the cord is unplugged he will not be in danger of electrocution.
Make a noise
Supervise your puppy and whenever he approaches wires or electric cords, make a loud noise with a whistle or a can full of marbles or rocks to startle him, and say “no” in a loud, firm voice.
The Redirect Method
Supervise your puppy whenever he is around electrical cords. Keep him separate from cords by moving them, or containing him when you are unable to supervise, like at night when you are sleeping or when you are out of the house.
When your puppy approaches an electrical cord, call his name, get his attention, and toss a chew toy in the opposite direction.
When your puppy retrieves the appropriate chew item, say “yes” and praise him.
Repeat directing your puppy away from electrical cords with alternative chew items, play, and praise.
Reward avoiding cord
When you “catch” your puppy approaching an electrical cord and then hesitating on his own. Say “yes”, praise him, and throw a big treat party to reward your puppy for leaving the cord alone.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 04/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021