How to Train Beagle Puppies to Not Chew

Medium
3-12 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Imagine walking into your house and seeing your Beagle laying down on his dog bed, calmly chewing his own toy. You walk into your kitchen and den and put your things away, then you realize that one of your kids forgot to pick up their toys before school, and look, there is a sock and a wad of paper on the floor too. You walk into the hallway and see that your husband forgot to put his favorite boots away, the leather ones that he wears all the time. You breathe a sigh of relief when you realize that all of the items are still intact. Your wonderful puppy did not chew anything but his own toys today. You appreciate all of the hard work and time that you put into teaching him those manners, and you realize just how far you have come with his training.

If you have recently brought a puppy into your home then that scene is probably something that you can only dream about. Right now your puppy is far from the calm puppy that only chews his own items, even when you mistakenly leave your things out. You frequently fear for your coffee table, your shoes, your mail, and everything else in your home. 

Puppies chew, it's natural. But that does not mean that your puppy cannot be taught what to chew. Teaching your puppy to chew his own toys, instead of your things, is important and possible.

Defining Tasks

It is important to teach your puppy what is and is not alright to chew, not just for the sake of your items remaining intact, but also to prevent your puppy from chewing and possibly swallowing something that could be dangerous to him. 

To teach your puppy not to chew on your items, you will need to be consistent, vigilant, and patient. Most puppies learn what to chew and not chew during the first year of their life. It is not unusual for a puppy to need reminders about what he can and cannot chew until he is one year old. The main goal should be to teach your puppy while he is young what is and is not OK, so that he will not continue bad chewing habits as an adult. When your puppy is very young, he is probably chewing as a way to explore his environment and to relieve discomfort from teething. When your puppy gets a bit older his jaws begin to develop more and he might chew to relieve that discomfort, or he might chew as a way to get your attention or relieve boredom. Do not expect your puppy not to chew at all, instead teach him what is acceptable to chew and what is not, so that he will chew toys instead of household objects during those periods of growth.

Using more than one of these methods at a time might yield quicker and more consistent results than using just one method would. Your puppy might need a combination of deterrence, confinement when he cannot be supervised, and redirection when you are able to watch him.

When your puppy is free in your home and supervised, you might find it helpful to leave a four foot leash attached to him. If he tends to chew the leash, then you can purchase a chew-proof metal leash, that is covered in vinyl. Ideally, the leash will not have a handle on the end, to prevent it from becoming caught as often. Only leave a leash attached to your puppy when you can supervise him though, or it can become a safety hazard. Having a leash attached to him can allow you to catch him easily, to calmly take items from him, and to give him appropriate toys to chew instead.

Getting Started

To get started, if you are using 'The Deterrent Method', then you will need a deterring spray, such as "Bitter Apple" or another similar brand of spray. If your dog finds those sprays pleasant instead of distasteful then you will need an empty spray bottle and either vinegar, lemon juice, or cayenne pepper and water. 

If you are using 'The Redirect Method' then you will need a variety of enticing, safe dog toys. Good options are rubber Kong toys, other hollow chew toys, non-splintering bones and antlers, and durable stuffed toys made out of several layers of material such as ballistic nylon or suitcase fabric. If your puppy tends to run away from you when he has your objects in his mouth, then you might also need a four-foot chew-proof leash. 

If you are using 'The Chew Training Method' then you will need treats, a crate or exercise pen or both, hollow rubber chew toys, such as Kongs, Ziploc bags, a freezer, and your dog's dry dog food and peanut butter or squeeze cheese, to stuff the hollow chew toys with.

With all of the methods, you will need patience, consistency, perseverance, and a forgiving and gracious attitude, for when your pup makes mistakes while still learning. Remember, chewing is natural for him, and he needs your help to learn what to chew.

The Deterrent Method

Effective
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Step
1
Watch
To begin, pay careful attention to your puppy's chewing habits. Notice which objects in your home he tends to chew on.
Step
2
Purchase spray
After you have watched your pup to see which objects he tends to chew, then purchase a chew deterrent spray such as "Bitter Apple" or one of the many similar pet safe brands. These sprays can be purchased at most major pet stores or online.
Step
3
Spray objects
Spray the objects that your pup tends to chew with the deterrent spray, so that the objects are no longer enticing. Most pet deterrent sprays are safe for fabrics and furniture use, but to be safe, do a small test spray on a non-visible part of the furniture, object, or fabric first, before you spray the entire area that Fido tends to chew.
Step
4
Try a different brand
Your pup will probably find the spray distasteful, like the majority of puppies do, but if he happens to be one of the few pups who actually like the taste of the spray, then try a different brand of deterrent spray, with a different flavor.
Step
5
Try vinegar
If your pup likes the other brand of deterrent spray also, then you can make your own spray. To make your own spray put a clear type of vinegar, such as white vinegar, in a spray bottle, and experiment with both diluting it with water and using it full strength. If your puppy finds the diluted version unpleasant then you can simply use the vinegar diluted with water, so that the smell of the vinegar is less strong. Make sure that you test the vinegar on a small non-visible part of the area that you will be spraying it on first, since vinegar is stronger than many pet deterrent sprays.
Step
6
Try lemon
If your pup finds the pet deterrent sprays and vinegar pleasant, then try using lemon juice as a spray. Be aware that lemon juice can bleach though, so be careful what you spray it on, and be sure to test a small area with it first.
Step
7
Try cayenne
If pet deterrent sprays, vinegar, or lemon do not work, then try using Cayenne pepper mixed with water. Because this spray is red and can sting if you get it into your eyes or other openings, it is best to only use this spray on items that you are unlikely to come into contact with. One safer use for this spray is in your backyard, on items or plants that your pup tends to chew on.
Step
8
Reapply
Be sure to reapply the spray regularly. The frequency of your reapplication depends mostly on where you are using it. If you are using it somewhere that you tend to touch frequently, then the spray will probably need to be reapplied daily, since you might be rubbing it off. If you are using the spray outside and it tends to rain a lot or get wet from humidity, morning dew, or fog, then the spray probably needs to be applied at least every three days plus whenever it gets washed off. Most other locations probably need reapplication every two to four days, depending on how determined your puppy is about chewing that object.
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The Redirect Method

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Step
1
Purchase toys
To begin, purchase several different types of safe toys. Good options are hollow rubber chew toys that can be stuffed with food such as Kongs, non-splintering bones or antlers, stuffed toys made out of several layers of durable material, such as ballistic material, suit case fabric, or other hard to rip fabric. Be sure to only let your pup have safe rubber type chew toys while unsupervised, since those are less likely to be torn apart and eaten. If your pup is a very hard chewer then bones and antlers might not be a good choice for him because he may chip a tooth on one, or fabric toys might not be a good option if he tends to tear apart even durable stuffed toys and eat the pieces. Choose the toys based on your particular puppy's needs, and always throw away ones that get too small or torn apart. Avoid anything that splinters or that might cause obstruction issues, such as chicken bones and sometimes rawhide strips.
Step
2
'Drop it'
Teach your puppy the 'drop' command, and whenever your puppy grabs something that he should not have, tell him "drop" and hand him one of his own toys instead.
Step
3
Do not chase
Whenever your puppy grabs something of yours, try not to chase your puppy. Instead, calmly walk over to him and tell him to "Drop", then give him one of his own toys instead. You can also teach your pup to "Fetch", and tell him to "Fetch" whatever he has, which means bring it to you, then when he brings it to you, tell him "Drop", and when he drops the toy, throw him one of his own toys instead. If it is essential that you get whatever he has immediately, then call his name excitedly and run away from him, to encourage him to chase after you. Do not do this unless it is essential though, because doing that also makes taking your items a fun game, but it will at least prevent him from running away or holding onto the item any longer than absolutely necessary.
Step
4
Keep it boring
Whenever you take anything from your pup, keep the interaction as boring as possible, to prevent your puppy from grabbing unwanted items in hopes of initiating a fun game with you, where you chase him, pay attention to him, or get loud. All of which he might find fun even though you are not enjoying the "game".
Step
5
Keep it clean
Whenever your puppy is not confined, keep items that your puppy likes to chew cleaned up, to prevent him from being tempted. The more that you can remove temptation and encourage him to chew his own toys, the less likely he will be to develop the bad habit of chewing non-toy items, and the more likely he will be to grow out of the unwanted chewing.
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The Chew Training Method

Effective
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Step
1
Crate train
To begin, teach your puppy to love being inside of his crate or exercise pen. Do this by leaving the crate door open and sprinkling treats inside of the crate for your puppy to find, by dropping treats into the crate while your puppy is inside, to reward him for being calm in the crate, and by gradually increasing the amount of time that your puppy is in the crate for, while intermittently rewarding his calm behavior with more treats and eventually freedom from the crate.
Step
2
Dry stuff a Kong
Once your puppy is comfortable being in his crate or exercise pen for at least one hour at a time, then stuff a Kong or other hollow chew toy with your pup's dog food. There are two basic ways of stuffing a Kong. The first is to place a wonderful smelling treat, such as freeze dried liver, in the bottom of the Kong, then fill the Kong two thirds of the way full will your pup's dry dog food or dry dog food mixed with treats, then wedge a large treat over the opening of the Kong, so that it covers about half of the opening, and allows only a couple of pieces of dog food to fall out of the Kong at a time.
Step
3
Stuff and freeze a Kong
The second way to stuff a Kong is to place some of your puppy's dry food into a bowl and cover the food with water. Allow the food to sit out for at least three hours, until the food absorbs the water and looks like small mushy marshmallows. The food should easily squish between your fingers and not be solid anymore. If the food absorbs all of the water before it gets mushy enough to use then add more water and let it sit out for longer. Once the food is very soft, add about half a tablespoon of peanut butter or squeeze cheese, and mix the food and peanut butter or cheese together. Drop the globs of food mush into the Kong, filling the Kong about two thirds of the way full. If your puppy gets that out easily later, then next time stuff the food in a little more tightly, but do not stuff it tightly at first or your pup might get discouraged. After the Kong is stuffed, then place the Kong into a Ziploc bag and then into the freezer overnight or until frozen. It is easiest to prepare several Kongs at once, ahead of time, so that you can simply grab one from the freezer when needed.
Step
4
Confine
When your Kongs, or other stuffed hollow chew toys, are ready, then encourage your puppy to enter his crate and place the stuffed Kong inside with him. Do this every time that you are home but cannot supervise your puppy completely, and every time that you leave your home. By confining him with the stuffed Kong you are limiting his access to items that he should not be chewing and providing him with an appropriate item to chew, so that he will form a habit of chewing his own toys, instead of your things, when he is bored.
Step
5
Encourage hunger
To encourage your pup to focus on the Kong or other hollow toy even more, feed him his meals in the Kongs. To do this, simply measure out his food for the day and use that food to stuff the Kongs with. If there is any food leftover after you stuff the Kongs, then you can use that food as rewards during training sessions or simply give it to him in a bowl. Feeding him in this way will encourage him to chew the Kongs instead of inappropriate objects, will give him something purposeful to do, which can prevent boredom and restlessness, and it will keep him from gaining too much weight due to overfeeding. It also has the added benefits of encouraging quiet behavior, since he cannot easily bark while chewing, and helping him like his crate or exercise pen.
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