Mouthing and chewing in puppies is a completely normal, albeit annoying, thing. They begin doing this from an early age to explore their environment and learn bite inhibition through the feedback of their littermates. Mouthing is also part of normal play behavior for puppies and dogs. When you reach towards your puppy to pet him, that’s very exciting for him. He responds out of excitement by mouthing (chewing) your hand.
Chewing is a perfectly normal behavior for dogs of all ages. Both wild and domestic dogs spend hours chewing bones. This activity keeps their jaws strong and their teeth clean. Dogs love to chew on bones, sticks and just about anything else available. They chew for fun, they chew for stimulation, and they chew to relieve anxiety. While chewing behavior is normal, dogs sometimes direct their chewing behavior toward inappropriate items. Both puppies and adult dogs should have a variety of appropriate and attractive chew toys. However, just providing the right things to chew isn’t enough to prevent inappropriate chewing. Dogs need to learn what is okay to chew and what is not. They need to be taught in a gentle, humane manner.
I’ve been known to put my foot in my mouth. But dogs do it on purpose. So, why do dogs chew their feet? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Sure, there’s a simple explanation for the behavior. “A dog is essentially trying to scratch the itch,” says Christopher Pachel, DVM, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon. But finding the cause of foot chewing can be complicated. “It can be multiple different things,” Dr. Pachel says. “This is not one size fits all.”
Dogs, especially puppies, explore the world with their mouth. She likes to chew because it calms her. But it destroys your stuff. Even worse -- she might eat something like a sock that could block her intestines. Break this habit now. Give her chew toys, and take away things she shouldn't gnaw on. If you catch her chewing something she shouldn’t, say “no,” replace the object with an approved toy, and praise her once she's chewing it.
3. Encourage appropriate chewing. Provide appropriate chew toys for your dog to enjoy. Each dog will have their own personal preference as to what they prefer to chew and play with. Be careful with rawhide and beef bones as determined chewers can whittle them down to smaller pieces that can be swallowed. They can end up becoming lodged in the esophagus or small intestine so supervision is recommended when giving these treats and be sure to take away any small pieces that might be swallowed. Avoid chicken bones since they splinter easily creating sharp fragments that can easily puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. I prefer nylabones, greenies and dental chewsticks since they encourage appropriate chewing while combating dental disease. Dog toys such as balls and kongs may appeal to your dog, just be sure to select a size that is appropriate for your dog. They should be able to pick it up and carry it but it should be of sufficient bulk that it cannot be swallowed. If you buy your dog a kong type toy check, make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it.I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
Confine the chewing dog in his crate whenever you are unable to supervise his activity. Leave him with a couple of acceptable chewies. ACCEPTABLE CHEWIES are toys that are not easily consumed, ones that may change their form as the dog gnaws at them. Nylabones, beef marrow bones, large rawhide knots all become more interesting to the dog as he works on them; the chewing action creates all sorts of lumps and depressions that keep most canines enraptured for hours. KongTM toys can be stuffed with a variety of goodies including some of the dog’s breakfast, challenging him to work for his meal. Old shoes, towels, scrap wood, or phonebooks are not acceptable chew toys. Dogs cannot differentiate between old shoes and new shoes, or scrap wood from kitchen cabinetry. Don’t confuse your dog by giving him anything that may be mistaken for a forbidden object.
Animal hooves, antlers, and bones: Hard animal parts and particularly cooked bones pose the most significant risk to your dog's teeth and GI tract because they are very hard and indigestible. If your dog doesn't break a tooth first, he could manage to snap off a piece and ingest it. Some animal horns (like buffalo or goat horns) soften and fray a little while dogs are chewing them. These can be less dangerous to the teeth and may be more easily tolerated by the GI tract. However, they should be used with extreme caution.