Why do puppies chew? Why do puppies go exactly where they’re not supposed to, even if you’ve barricaded the no-go-to zones?
While pondering these impenetrables, I googled “why puppies chew” and came up with 2,780,000 hits. Evidently this is a major world-wide preoccupation. Googling “why puppies chew things you don’t want them to” revealed 11,000,000 hits.
What have they chewed? Their first major coup was the cover of the Bronzino catalogue from the magnificent drawings exhibition at the Met last year. Their second? They nibbled the corner of Vasari’s Lives (1568 ed.). They appear to be a bookish lot, and we happen to have a whole lot of books for them to … um … peruse. Just this afternoon I pulled Noah Feldman’s Fall and Rise of the Islamic State from their greedy little jaws.
From peteducation.com : “Puppies chew on whatever they can get their mouths on for any number of reasons: they are bored, they have a lot of energy, they are teething, or they are just curious. Dogs learn through their mouths. It is their tool; it is how they receive a great deal of information. They are naturally inclined to use their mouths whenever they can.” Peteducation.com then counsels puppy proofing areas, which we have dutifully done. But being imaginative pups, and dogged pups, they have managed to get into most places they’re not supposed to (who knew, for example, that they would crawl under the armchair, the aperture being only about two inches)? Funny how puppies can insert themselves into spaces you hardly thought possible.
The next bit of advice? “Confine your pup in a crate.” Yes, we have, but Yip discovered how to vault her way out of it (she combines fine athleticism with her chewing habits), thus causing us to literally put a lid on it (the lid, in this case, being the remains of an addition to an old family dining table).
Then “closely supervise your uncrated pup.” Ah, we do, but there’s three of them, and it’s hard to multi-task.
Peteducation continues: “Give your puppy chew toys.” Oh, we have, but why chew on the expensive rope gadget from a shop in Florence when you can chew on something far more interesting like the cardboard cylinder remaining after you’ve used up all the paper towels (which, of course, have been used to clean up after them). Besides, chewing on people is a whole lot more fun: just ask Yip, Yap, and Yup. It’s heaven when they’re all present in the same spot, as they are right now chewing on the wicker waste basket.
My favorite, however, is this: (again, from peteducation) :” If you catch your puppy in the act of chewing anything but his chew toy, remove the object and replace it with an acceptable chew toy. If your puppy then chews on the toy, praise him. You always want to reinforce desired behavior with praise. If possible, treat the 'inappropriate object' with a product designed to deter chewing, such as Grannick's Bitter Apple or Drs. Foster and Smith Chew Stop that will give it a bad taste.”
First off, we have Bitter Bite, in aerosol form. It appears to work as an aphrodisiac for them or a tonic; seconds after the book has been sprayed, they’re right back at it. We attempt to follow the advice above, but experience has shown that you remove pup(s) from Forbidden Object, and direct him/her/usually them to Appropriate Object. This keeps them busy for – oh, three seconds – before they return to the Forbidden Object.
Two large dogs live with us, and they would be perfect to chew on, if only the two large dogs could be bothered with three small puppers. They couldn’t. Lulu never properly learned to play with others; she entered our pack when Waldo was already installed. She learned to play with him (if you can count him hanging out underneath her and nipping at her hind paws, and her ending the discussion by sitting on him) but not with others. Today she made a couple of clumsy attempts to engage a pup in play (her coordination was equal to that of a center for the Boston Celtics attempting to do a plié). These attempts cowed the pups, caused Harry to howl … well, you should have been here.
Harry could not be bothered with them, though he has conducted innumerable site inspections of each pup – particularly Yup (the only other boy). It’ll be a great day when they start trying to out-pee one another; hopefully, the camera will be ready.
Outdoors, the puppers have attempted to massacre the Chinese mustard greens and bok choi. If they massacre that, I will massacre them (for those of you who don’t live in Italy: those two vegetables do not exist in this country; these are from seeds illegally brought in by Dogaressa of the Broken Halo and are, as such, treasures).
They’re killing the lavender. In fact, their choice of it as their outdoor commode has led others (named Lulu, Harry, and Rosie), to spend their pennies there, too.
They’ve torn little holes in a lot of my clothes (oddly, the Scallion gets off rather lightly in this respect). Yesterday, the Missoni shawl was put up high on the kitchen table so that they would not dig in, but some enterprising pup managed to pull it down, and the three of them engaged in a short, but vibrant, tug of war.
You are not supposed to yell at dogs, nor at puppies, but I swear my roars could be heard as far south as Rome.
If you want some laughs, go to google.com, click on Immagini, and type in Chewing Dogs. You'll see a lot of chewing dogs.
I mull over creating a dish that will keep those puppers chewing for centuries – a kind of Gladstone-ian method of chewing at least one hundred times before swallowing (although swallowing doesn't seem to be the conclusion to this exercise). Salt-water taffy comes immediately to mind, but that would probably kill them, and that is not the aim. Any suggestions would be most gratefully welcomed.