Puppy's chewing me out of house and home.
April 2, 2013 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Looking for new chew treat/toy options for my puppy. Snowflake details inside.

My 14-week-old puppy, like many puppies, is a voracious chewer. So far, I've managed to keep him from eating my shoes/furniture/carpets by providing a steady stream of chew treats. These also keep him occupied while I'm working (he comes to the office with me). But I'm running out of affordable, safe options and could use some new ideas. Right now I'm spending over $20/week on things for him to chew on and that is just not sustainable.

What he likes in a chew treat:

- Tastes/smells like meat
- Can actually make a dent in the treat (ie, chew off pieces or tear off strips with his teeth, or crunch pieces). His jaw is still pretty weak, but getting stronger by the day.
- In addition, I would like something that will keep him busy for more than a half hour so I'm not constantly buying new treats.

Things I've tried that he liked:

- Bully sticks: these were a hit for a while, but he seems to be losing interest, and they are super-expensive! He still likes the Happy Pet braided sticks (from Trader Joes) that he can gnaw and crunch into nubs, but he's done with one of those in a few hours' time and they're $5/pop.
- chicken/duck feet: he LOVES these but they're gone in 10 minutes.
- rib/marrow bones/joints: also a big hit, but I don't want them to be an every day thing because they give him the runs (probably too much fat in the meat/marrow for his puppy tummy)
- He has a hoof of some sort (given to me by his puppy class trainer) and he'll usually chew on that for a few minutes but then loses interest.

Things he's not interested in:

- Kongs stuffed with kibble and peanut butter: he gets the stuff that's easy and then loses interest
- antlers
- nylabones (no interest in the plastic ones, and an edible one resulted in an emergency vet visit, so we won't be doing that again)
- non-food-oriented toys (stuffed animals, braided rope - he'll play tug-of-war with them but won't chew on them)
- Himalayan chews - he'll lick them for a few minutes, then get frustrated, whine for a bit, and give up
- I have a few treat-ball toys that he eats his meals out of, but he's not interested in chewing on them after the food is gone.

I haven't tried rawhide yet because I've heard mixed things about safety (my vet says they're fine, though).

Ideally, I'd be able to keep him in chew treats for under $10/week. The impossible dream?
posted by lunasol to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would give rawhide a try. My dog was never able to take any big hunks out of it. If you get a flavored kind, look out for "stain free" so you don't get any of the color rubbing off on your furniture.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:19 PM on April 2, 2013

I know you've tried nylabones, but have you tried the flavored (not edible) ones? There are some that are just plastic, which my dogs turn their noses up at, and there are some that are chicken or bacon flavored plastic, which my dogs are inexplicably wild about.

I've bought rawhide rolls that have, like, liver mush in them, and those have been pretty successful. Also, while I wouldn't leave him unsupervised with them, rawhide bones are pretty great, or pig ears, if you can find those. I wouldn't bother with rawhide strips--my (small) dogs can devour those, start to finish, in about twenty minutes. Pieces that have been rolled or tied last a lot longer.
posted by MeghanC at 12:34 PM on April 2, 2013

Rusty, The Wonder Dog just LOVED rawhide chews, either the ones tied up to look like a bone or, especially, the rolled up jobs, maybe ten inches long, an inch around -- oh man, was she a happy dog on Petsmart days. She'd work those things for hours and hours, then keep the little stubs left over as a toy.

The rawhide chips she'd work over just long enough to get them soggy enough to swallow, which could have been dangerous; I quit giving her those.

Take your pooch to Petsmart and let him pick out his own; Rusty was so happy there, she'd be about shivering with happy, her eyes bright as buttons, huge dog smile.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:40 PM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: I won't threadsit, but to answer MeghanC's question - he has a nylabone that's chicken-flavored and he's not interested at all (and he goes CRAZY when I cook chicken).
posted by lunasol at 12:42 PM on April 2, 2013

My puppy is almost a year old and I have good news for you: his tastes may change!

For instance: when my pup was a tiny pup, he loved the chicken flavor plastic teething nylabones. They were his favorite thing. He had another nylabone he had no interest in. Now, as an older pup, he likes that other nylabone a lot. He also would tear through a Trader Joe's cow wiener in seconds flat. Now he's had the same one for about two weeks--he just keeps dragging it around the house with him like a trophy. So, maybe in a few weeks or months, try trotting out something you've tried before.

Here are things that have been a hit with my dog:

Skinny rawhide sticks. Sometimes he takes a day to go through one, sometimes a week. Sometimes he just likes carrying them around with him and won't chew them at all. We're still on the same bag I got when I got him (at 10 weeks) and he gets them regularly, so they've lasted a while.

Tennis balls (he likes to chew the fuzz off).

Celery. He had fun with this for a few weeks when he was tiny. Mostly he'd just tear it up. Pros: cheap. Cons: messy, especially if he eats the strings and you get christmas light poos.

A hunk of femur bone (got this for maybe 8 bucks at petsmart). He'll sit and chew on it for only about 5 minutes at a time, but he works on it every day. He's had it for a few months now and has barely made a dent. (For extra fun, sometimes I shove a treat down inside it and let him work to fish it out.)

Dental sticks like these.

I should note that my dog is a chewer, but not much of an eater. As in, he'll chew something into pieces, but very rarely actually swallow the non-edible stuff. Which is great when he gets into, for instance, a bag of pony beads, or some paintbrushes, or his litter box.

Protip: if there's a new toy you got him that he doesn't seem terribly interested in, cook yourself some bacon and then smear a little bit of bacon grease on the toy.
posted by phunniemee at 12:46 PM on April 2, 2013

One thing to keep in mind is that chewy dogs are often bored dogs/dogs with a lot of energy. You may be surprised how much vigorous walks, trips to the dog parks, mental activities will help curb chewing. It worked on our lab anyway.

You could try cheap wash clothes wet down and frozen in a rolled up log. The great thing about that is that they are reusable. You could even do a little chicken broth if he's only interested in meaty things. This was especially good when he was teething although you have a few months before that is an issue.
posted by Kimberly at 12:50 PM on April 2, 2013

You mentioned that he's not super interested in the kong stuffed with kibble or peanut butter, but maybe if you stuffed it with something higher value he would be motivated to work for it? My dog doesn't care for peanut butter, but I put these chicken jerkies in a Squirrel Dude with a lot of success. You could also freeze some canned dog food inside a kong for him to lick out as it's melting - maybe the appealing smell would keep him interested?
posted by periscope at 12:59 PM on April 2, 2013

My friend's dog is a chewer and he used to go through chew toys like it was his job. What you need is the Everlasting Treat Ball. It's not a puzzle ball, it has a big yummy-tasting, fairly hard insert that lasts a really long time. Because of the size and shape, it's harder for puppy to get his jaws around it and destroy it, so he kind of scrapes away at the deliciousness a little at a time until it's gone. You keep the ball and just buy refill treat insert things. (The liver smells awful, fair warning.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2013

The Costco near me sells bags of 12 foot-long bully sticks for like $15 or $20. I saw the price they charge at pet stores and nearly had a heart attack. So that might be an option, if you have a membership.

Have you tried smearing a Kong with peanut butter and freezing it? That quadruples the time that my dog will sit and worry at it, because she gets just a little hit of peanut butter (and sometimes chunks of treat that I've frozen in the peanut butter) each lick. Although if the sound of your dog lapping at something drives you mad then don't do this because seriously it's like LICK LICK LICK and then the saddest eyes ever if you take it away.

Also, we didn't have much luck with antler chews until someone gave us a fresh / premium elk antler chew--it wasn't all bleached white like the ones you see in pet stores, the antler and the marrow itself was much darker. My dog went nuts for this and will chew it contently for hours. We call it the "doggie pacifer" and it's what my partner uses when he takes our pooch to work. Sadly, the gifter said she got it at a farmer's market and we haven't had luck yet finding another one to buy. But I just point this out to say that some antler chews are evidently better than others.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2013

One thing to keep in mind is that chewy dogs are often bored dogs/dogs with a lot of energy.


I have an incredibly well-trained and well-behaved dog who has, in the past, destroyed household objects when I fail to get him the level of exercise he needs. He doesn't do that any more, in part because he's gotten older and needs less exercise and in part because I try to keep him as tired as possible.
posted by toomuchpete at 1:16 PM on April 2, 2013

I know you said no Kongs but with one of our dogs he hated the traditional shaped Kongs, but once we got him ones shaped like a bone he loved them. Also freeze them to make them last way longer. In warmer weather blocks of ice or frozen stock with treats frozen in it keep my dogs amused for hours.

Rawhide cost us a $1000 vet trip many years ago when our dog swallowed a huge piece which did not dissolve in his stomach with any speed and gave him all sorts of scary gastric distress so I tend to avoid them and bully sticks. YMMV.

I found our dogs got interested in antler when we got a split pieces so they could reach the marrow easier, smearing that with PB filled in all the little hollows/cells in the marrow and they spend ages working on them now.

Have you tried giving him veggies to chew on, my dogs love carrots and a large horse carrot can keep my small terriers busy for ages, though you do have to pick up carrot bits.

I'll also nth exercise, a tired dog is a sleepy dog that doesn't need to chew anything a lot of crazy puppy chewing is boredom.

Good luck, the good news is as they get older things get easier in regard to all this and the toys he turned his nose up at now he'll probably come back to.
posted by wwax at 1:28 PM on April 2, 2013

Kong: stuff with dog food, yogurt, carrots, meat bits, cheese etc. Pour in a bit of kefir or meat broth. Freeze. Dog popsicle! Awesome for puppies too, because the cold feels good on puppy gums.

Buy your bully sticks from here: best bully sticks. Way cheaper than the stores (like 80% cheaper) and much better quality. If you sign up for their email they send 7-10% off coupons fairly regularly.
posted by barnone at 1:31 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

The BEST cheap dog toy is: Empty Plastic Water Bottle + Old Sock. Put the empty water bottle into the sock. Tie the open end of the sock. Allow the dog to chew on it's crinkly goodness until it crinkles no more. Replace the bottle, and sock (if needed). Begin again. Also? Put a little chicken stock in an empty spray bottle, and re-chickenize toys that have lost their luster for a little immediate flavor appeal.
posted by amoeba at 2:07 PM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

If he likes destroying stuff, not just chewing try wood. Many dogs enjoy mulching and it's free! Also cardboard, plastic bottles, boxes and generally anything you were going to throw away anyway.
posted by fshgrl at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2013

When our puppy was teething I would soak a kitchen rag, twist it up and pop it in the freezer. Puppy chews on it voraciously until it melts back into a boring rag which you can safely retreive. Rinse and repeat. Keep a few in rotation.
posted by ista at 7:04 PM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! Some things in here I never would have thought of on my own!
posted by lunasol at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2013

Have you tried giving him raw bones? You can buy raw beef bones at most supermarkets. If the marrow gives him the runs, remove it. Alternately, if he's not interested, you could try pork necks, chicken necks, oxtails, etc. In the case of the latter three, these can be given in addition to lowering his intake of dog food, since they provide food in the form of raw meat.

I give pork and chicken necks to my cat regularly. She loves them; my only problem is that she drags them all over the house if I'm not watching her. You may want to leash your pup in one spot when he's chewing raw meat.
posted by Urban Winter at 1:25 PM on April 3, 2013

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