Managing Your Chihuahua’s Destructive Behavior

 

chihuahua-destructive-behaviorPrepare to lose at least one good pair of shoes. Chihuahua puppies are endearing and curious, and they love to chew! Just like their human counterparts, Chihuahuas go through a teething stage and then, a little later on, an even more rambunctious “teenager” phase. These stages are an absolutely normal and healthy part of development for every puppy. But with these undeniably adorable phases comes a little path of destruction, leaving half-eaten shoes in their wake.

While you can’t stop their inevitable desire to put absolutely everything in their mouths, you can puppy proof your home and provide suitable toys as an alternative to chewing. This not only will help keep your shoe casualty to a minimum, but more importantly, will help to protect those furry little family members from snacking on something that could land them in the emergency room.

Cutting Their Teeth

When their adult teeth are coming in, Chihuahua puppies do what human babies do – they teethe. Teething is the process of losing those baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, and growing their “big dog” teeth – and it comes with a lot of chewing!

There are some differences between the species, though. Puppies tend to be more dedicated chewers than kittens, whose teething phase is also accompanied by a lot of play stalking and hunting behaviors.

For teething Chihuahuas, be sure to provide a lot of different chewable items. Puppies have short attention spans, and it is easy for those young minds to wander over to a slipper or chair leg. A trip to your local pet store will yield an amazing selection of puppy toys to choose from. When making your selection, keep in mind the size of your puppy – Chihuahua puppies aren’t going to be able to handle Labrador-sized toys.

Whatever toys you bring home, make sure they are well-made and durable. Pet stores are loaded with little feathered toys, and fake mice.

Burden Of Proof

Providing toys for your new Chihuahua puppy is only half the battle. Just as you would for a human infant, the arrival of a Chihuahua will require some baby-proofing. Puppies are incredibly curious, so anything is fair game when boredom strikes.

Before your new addition arrives, secure all potentially harmful objects. Chewing through electric cords can lead to electrical burns and shock injuries; gnawing on furniture can lead to fractured baby teeth; and small objects from coins to cotton balls can be accidentally ingested, leading to a potential gastrointestinal obstruction or poisoning.

Basic training can start right away, and can be helpful with developing good chewing habits. If you catch your young Chihuahua with something he shouldn’t have, we recommend that you take it away with a verbal reprimand, and immediately replace it with something he is allowed to have. As soon as he shows interest in the appropriate toy, lavish him with praise so he begins to get the idea of what toys belong to him.

While puppies in the teething phase can be a handful, you will be glad for the baby-proofing and early training when he gets a little older. Crate training is the best way to keep Chihuahua puppies out of harm’s way when adult supervision is unavailable, and can be continued throughout the dog’s life, if necessary.

Toothsome Toddlers

Young Chihuahuas from about 8-12 months of age are the equivalent of athletic, agile toddlers with a full mouthful of sharp teeth. Chihuahuas in this age group are like exuberant piranhas whose hobby seems to be leaving teeth marks in everything in their path. Gone are the days of gentle teething; as your puppy has matured, his bite strength has grown up as well.

A Chihuahua this age has the physical ability and energy to get into a lot of trouble if left unattended! Young Chihuahuas are not above chewing furniture, walls, baseboards, rocks or electronics to satisfy their curiosity and natural chewing behavior. This behavior can not only lead to some expensive destruction, but to fractured teeth or dangerous ingestions. It may be time to review your puppy-proofing plan, to make sure that all potentially harmful objects are out of reach.

A big piece of the “safe toys puzzle” is your pet’s chewing personality. If he loves chewing hard things, we might prefer to offer a harder over-the-counter toy to keep him from chomping on rocks. Other dogs are happier carrying soft toys around. Experiment with a variety of toys and talk to your vet to find what’s best for your chewer.

Now that your Chihuahua is older, toys that involve more interactive play are useful. Most young Chihuahuas love tug-of-war and fetch, and puzzle toys are great for engaging their minds. These games can also help tire them out and distract them from chewing on anything they shouldn’t.

Guarding your Chihuahua against his own curiosity may be a lifelong endeavor, but the results are well worth the effort – for you and for your pup (not to mention your furniture). Changing his taste preferences by offering pet parent-approved, age-appropriate chewing opportunities can go a long way, as can making sure he gets plenty of exercise, a variety of ways to engage his mind and a healthy dose of time spent with you.

That doesn’t mean you won’t still find the odd shoelace missing, or discover your favorite pumps peppered with toothmarks. But with some patience, and perseverance, your Chihuahua’s footwear fetish should fade – and meanwhile, his health will stay protected.

 

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