This article is from Diamonds in the Ruff (, a terrific website with articles on everything dog. Take a look.

Photo of "Fez" with his Nylabone courtesy of LeeAnn Heringer

"What does it mean 'expensive shoe'?  I ate it because it smelled like you."
            -- If You Only Knew How Much I Smell You, True Portraits of Dogs, Roy Blount Jr. 
Does your dog get into things? Chew? Dig? Bark?
Surprised? You shouldn't be! He's a DOG! And that's what dogs do! 

"Someone you don't know came in here and chewed this box - honest."
(You have to believe this face, don't you?)

Puppies don't chew because they are "bad" but because, like any toddler, it's how they experience the world. Teething babies of all species need something to chew to relieve the irritation of new teeth coming in. Below are some great pro-active ways to direct your puppy to appropriate chewing outlets and protect valuable things in the process!

"First, when does it happen, and second, where are you when it happens? 
If the puppy gets into things it's not supposed to and you're in another room, then shame on you, not shame on the puppy."

Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB Veterinary Behavior Consultations St. Louis, Mo. College of Veterinary Medicine University of Missouri Columbia, Mo.

Dogs are by nature exploring, investigative, and curious animals who are 
in constant need of physical and mental stimulation to be satisfied. 
Your dog will chew, dig, bark and get into things - he has to. 

Your job is to provide ACCEPTABLE outlets for these activities. 

When your dog picks up something he shouldn't, trade him for something much more interesting that he SHOULD play with - make a big deal about the toy you have to offer! Rotate his toys and chews to keep them interesting. When you see him choose the right thing notice it! Praise him and have a quick game. Most dogs steal things because it is certain to get you out of your chair. Catch me if you can is an awfully fun game - for the dog ...
Toys fall into two categories: INTERACTIVE and PACIFIER.

Interactive toys are toys which are the most fun played with YOU.
Pacifier toys are toys designed to keep the bored dog occupied.

See these toys in action!

Teach your puppy that these toys will appear when he is calm only, otherwise you will teach him to be silly more often. In my house, puppies who start getting into things, racing around the house and harassing the adult dogs get to take a nap in their crates.  If they are calm and quiet, they get a puzzle toy. 

It is a knife edge balance to keep the dog intellectually stimulated, exercised and rested.  Over the years I have found that well rested puppies are pleasant and easy puppies.  Puppies who are constantly stimulated are a pain to live with. And puppies who get no stimulation are difficult to train as adults. Strive for balance.  Balance will get you where you want to be with your puppy. 

                                      - Sue Alexander CPDT CDBC, Dogs in the Park, Guelph, Ontario 

Provide Safe Pacifiers for "alone times": 

Sometimes the best toys are disposable - a milk jug or empty water bottle. 
Great website for finding cool toys (and jobs) for dogs:
Kongs - rubber toys that look like rattlesnake tails and bounce which way and that. Add a bit of peanut butter, a square of cheese, a big biscuit too large to fall out and a few that will. Fill several and hide them in the house or yard and they will keep your dog busy for hours. Go HERE for more ideas and HERE other Kong stuffing ideas! And a video on "Kongs for Beginners" with stuffing tips!

Nylabones - They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and hardnesses, from the "edible" varieties which are intended to be eaten, to the dental bones designed to massage gums and clean teeth, to the Galileo version for the most powerful chewers. If your dog isn't interested, roughen the edges so it looks like another dog enjoyed it first, and then rub peanut butter or 
squeeze cheese into the crevasses. Mmm mmm good!!

If I have something of my own to chew, I'll be less likely to chew things that belong to you

Chew toys - Hooves, rawhide, pig ears, knuckle bones etc. - Chosen carefully (the right size and hardness for your dog's particular chewing style) can provide hours of chewing satisfaction. If your dog bites off chunks or consumes them quickly they could cause digestive upset or intestinal blockage. Real bones can be safe for some dogs and not for others, depending on how powerfully they chew - heavy chewers can suffer from tooth fractures. There is much debate over raw vs. cooked.
Knotted ropes - Chewing a knotted rope can massage gums and keep your dog's teeth clean, plus the added play value of shaking, tossing, pouncing and "killing". Some come with rubber toys or tennis balls added for even more fun. You can hide biscuits in the knots to encourage your dog and add interest. If your puppy is teething, you can soak the rope in broth or water and freeze it to soothe aching gums.

Dental devices - various shapes and sizes of flexible, nubby edges massage gums and clean teeth. Some are designed so you can put doggy toothpaste in the grooves and let your dog brush his own teeth!

Fleece toys Many retrievers and "mothering types" seem to find comfort in carrying a soft toy with them, and frequently present them to their owners upon their arrival home from a long day at work. Squeakers may encourage "disemboweling" and your chew man might soon be without his insides, but most dogs continue to enjoy them even without their stuffing.

Brain Toys / Self-amusement 

Buster Cubes - This durable plastic cube gives dogs mental stimulation, exercise and relief from boredom. It is designed to be filled with bite sized dry pet food or treats. The food is released as the dog rolls the cube with its nose or its paws.

Tricky Treat Balls - a soft rubber ball with a specially designed food dispensing hole in one side. Dimpled so it's easy to carry, quieter on wooden floors than the Buster Cube, and easier for younger and easily frustrated dogs who might give up on a more difficult toy.
Huge balls - herding breeds especially love playing soccer alone or with you. "Jolly Balls" have handles, nearly indestructible "Best Balls" can be filled with sand or water for more challenging fun!
A suspended ball - remember playing tether ball as a kid? Many dogs also enjoy this game, especially boxers and bull dog breeds. The ball should be suspended from a horizontal pole, not a vertical one for safety.
Saffy studies the Giggle Treat Ball
A kid's wading pool water loving breeds will love spending hot summer days splashing in a shallow kid's wading pool.

A sandbox of his own - If your dog loves to dig, make him an appropriate place to do it. Bury his favorite toys, bones and a biscuit or two before you turn the dog out to play.

Video of a digging pit in action!

Brain Games

Tricks and more tricks - You are only limited by your imagination! Sit up, shake hands, roll over, chase your tail, take a bow, balance a biscuit on his nose.

Hide his breakfast - using his nose can be the most tiring activity for your dog. Leave widely spaced trail of kibble to the hidden bowl ... gradually, day by day, decrease the number of "clues" til your dog is finding it all on his own.

Hide and seek - Have a family member hide, have them call "come!" and send the dog to find them - start out easy and make it more and more difficult day by day. Play this game in the dark to encourage your dog to use his sense of smell.

Find your toys - Take him out of the room and hide his favorite toy and send him in to find it ... if your dog doesn't like toys, play "hide the biscuit" instead. Variation: Name his toys - and send him to retrieve them by name. Can you put out a pile of his favorites and have him retrieve them one by one, by name?

Message delivery - Teach your dog to deliver notes or other items to other family members. "Take it to daddy" could save you a trip downstairs and give your dog a job he can be proud of!
Obstacle courses - Over, under, around and through. Large cardboard boxes can become tunnels, a wide board and a couple of cinder blocks can become a bridge. (See agility below.)

Clicker Training! 101 things to do with a cardboard box, Free shape a behavior with your clicker!

Active Games & Other Activities

Retrieving - "sit" "stay" "get it" "out" - dumbells, Foxtails, Tennis balls

Jumping - Start slowly. Keep the jumps low and the landing surface soft, especially for young dogs. Avoid repetitive jumping or height until your dog is completely through growing.
Bike riding, jogging - start slow and build distance gradually, soft surfaces and short distances for young dogs, check pads before and after every run, avoid the heat of the day.

Cart or sled pulling - The Iditarod! A Northern breed favorite. Cart pulling is enjoyed by Newfoundlands, Bernese Mt. Dogs, Pyrenees and others.

Swimming - is good exercise and a great way to cool off. Not all dogs naturally know how to swim! Doggy life jackets are a good idea when boating. Important: Swimming pools are strictly off-limits to unsupervised dogs.

Dog Sports! - Agility, fly ball, canine free style and more!
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People - ditr_training @ -