How to stop a puppy from eating everything?

My puppy (almost 4 months old) loves his string toys and his string toys only. He doesn't like his rubber toys very much probably because he can't fit it into his mouth. But the thing is, he rips the string off of his rope toys and eats it! If we take away his string toys, then he rips off pieces of rubber of his rubber toys and tries to eat that. And if he doesn't have toys, he obviously rips our carpet to shreds and eats that. We gave him a tennis ball but he ripped the hairs out of the ball and tried to eat that. That also takes furry soft toys out of the picture. When we go outside, he tries to eat sticks and leaves. Even if he is full, he swallows a piece of twig or carpet here and there. Now, he coughs (I think that its coughing. First time dog owner, can't say I know much) every now and then I feel like its because of all the string and random things he eats. Its mainly because he coughs like this that I feel like he needs to stop eating everything. How can I stop this if it needs to be stopped?


Just a little tip, some dogs respond very well to apple-cider vinegar dog spray. You spray it on the surface your pup is most likely to chew on, and the smell can discourage them from chewing. I would also recommend making sure he has a chew toy (bone, rope, etc) available at all times.

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Chewed up string toys and carpet are two very dangerous items. The intestines don't pass them well and it is a very frequent surgery at vet offices. You need to both get a handle on the problem and strongly consider eliminating all unsupervised use of these type of toys.

You will solve this with prevention, correction, and substitution... and the passing of sweet time!

Puppies chew. You need to be ready to stop the chewing of something unwanted and replace it with an acceptable item instead. Puppies chew to explore their world and for mental stimulation. It's not feasible to think that you will stop, or even want to stop, this natural behavior completely. This isn't to say that you shouldn't teach appropriate chewing.

I'd advocate for:

  1. A tired puppy is a good puppy. Walks within your pup's capabilities.
  2. Early obedience training using food reward.
  3. Treat filled Kong's are GREAT mental stimulation and wonderful outlets for this behavior.
  4. When your pup has an unwanted item pair up a "Drop it" command with your finger in the back corner of his mouth/lip. It's hard to explain but the proper pressure here literally will have him spitting the item out. Immediately hand him something he should have instead (nylabone, small Kong, appropriate toy).
  5. Limit his ability to roam and wander around the home. This problem will continue if he is "out of sight, out of mind."
  6. Through verbal praise/correction encourage appropriate chewing (standard chomping) and discourage the scissor chewing with the back molars and front teeth ripping that is used to destroy items. If you tell him "no" and he insists on continuing his dissecting chewing behavior temporarily remove the item from him. In this manner dogs can be taught "appropriate" supervised chewing of items like Kongs.

Generally this problem gets better with age. You can make it MUCH better MUCH faster with some attention to detail.

Best Wishes, Mark


Thank you SO much for saying all this. I really appreciate it.


Absolute best thing for this is Grannick's Bitter Apple Spray. It's totally safe, works like a charm, and doesn't damage your furniture, shoes, clothes, etc. Basically, it's just a flavored spray that tastes awful, and the awful taste sticks in your dog's mouth for a while after they try to chomp on your stuff. I've fostered many puppies, and this has worked for every single one.

Alejandra's recommendation that you give them an alternative is also very true. Of all the dogs I've cared for who chew, there have only been two reasons: 1) they needed to release stress or relieve teething pain by chewing, 2) they wanted attention. For the former, the best things are antlers (these are healthier for the gut, full of calcium and last forever) and pig's hoofs (this smell horrible, and make your furniture or whatever they touch also smell, but that's what makes them way more appealing to the dogs than any of your stuff - unless you have a really ripe gym bag).

All of this stuff is on Amazon, and at PetSmart.


It is normal for puppies to want to eat everything, I believe its because they teethe like babies do. Fortunately there is lots of puppy toys that are specific for teething puppies. Any training that you can do with your puppy will help with the behavioral issues as it will help you communicate with your dog better and he will understand when you are displeased with his behavior. Crate training will help him learn self control, longer walks on a loose but short leash strengthens your bond, and obedience training (like sit-lay down and leave it) can tire his mind.

A tired puppy is less likely to destroy things.

Also, if you are able to get him some toys I always recommend the IQ ball as an alternative way of feeding because its durable and well priced. You might need to help him figure it out at first to keep him from trying to open it with his teeth to get the food out. Start at an easy level by removing the center divider first. Other toys that require your pup to figure them out are good too, with supervision.

Finally. Consult a trainer if you aren't able to teach him simple commands or feel that your dog might need some beginner/additional training. The peace of mind you get is always worth the price. Good luck.


Kong Tires for puppies.


I am dealing with this exact same problem and let me tell you it does get better! A lot of active, moderate to high-energy dogs love to chew, and they certainly don't discriminate-- walls, baseboards, mum's new designer sandals... All I can really say to help is to make sure that you limit the freedom you give your dog to roam. Whether that be gating a play area or having them attached to you by a leash while in your home, this will allow you to fully see what kind of shenanigans they're getting into.

If, like me, you work outside the home, I suggest a nice long walk (30-45mins), followed by a rigorous bout of fetch (my 4mo plays ~20mins before tiring/losing interest). Doing this routine (albeit time-consuming) has almost curbed her destructive chewing entirely!

Also, I have found that by providing varied chew toys that range from antlers, to indestructible plush toys made with reinforced seams, allows a teething pupper the choice for what will feel best on her sensitive gums.

If I am home and notice her chewing something she shouldn't (e.g., my brand new laptop charging cord) I make sure to redirect her attention to her appropriate chew toys and give LOTS of praise when she refocuses her attention accordingly.

At the end of the day, chewing is a natural animal behaviour so discipline or aversion conditioning techniques (like bitter sprays) won't tech or promote good behaviour but instead merely curb them for a brief time-being. It's easier to teach good behaviour than it is to try and fix bad behaviour.