Just like curious toddlers who explore their world with busy hands, Golden Retriever puppies use their mouths to “taste” their surroundings. As many owners can attest, Golden Retriever pups can turn from sweet balls of fur to sofa-shredding, shoe-chewing dogs in minutes.
A powerful instinct drives this behavior: Golden Retrievers are getting their mouths ready for a time when they might be called to “fetch” something when hunting. But in a home, chewing can be destructive, and the behavior must be controlled and redirected before your pup turns your house to tatters.
Prevent, substitute, and correct.
There are three important steps to minimizing the impact of a problem chewer:
- Prevention—This has two components: (1) Remove chewable items from your teething puppy’s reach; and (2) keep the young chewer in a crate when you’re not home and able to supervise his behavior.
- Substitution—As soon as you see destructive chewing, redirect your Golden Retriever’s attention to a substitute, like a favorite chew toy, ball, or plastic ring. You can make a hard rubber bone or plastic toy more interesting to your dog by soaking it in beef broth for 10 minutes. When your Golden is chewing his toy, reinforce this behavior with praise and attention. One note: Cloth chew toys and rawhide bones mimic the fabric on furniture and the leather on shoes. So it’s best to offer plastic or rubber toys until your puppy’s random chewing is under control. Also, be sure to choose toys that are age and size appropriate for your pup. A puppy’s teeth are more fragile than an adult dog’s, so only give him those that are specifically for young puppies.
- Correction—This involves making it unpleasant for your Golden to chew on “bad” things. This is where a safe, non-toxic chewing deterrent like Bitter Apple spray comes in handy. Available in any pet store, it is sprayed directly on furniture, rugs, baseboards, or any surface you don’t want your puppy to chew. One spraying can be effective for up to 3 days. This compound is harmless but tastes nasty to your Golden Retriever (before applying, check the safety of these deterrents on the specific surfaces you plan to spray).
One more suggestion: Keeping this rambunctious working breed busy with plenty of exercise and ball throwing may be the best chewing prevention of all. After all, a tired Golden Retriever falls asleep!