Adopting a Labrador puppy is amongst the best things you could ever do. There is a reason why the Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in households all over the world. Their fun-loving personalities and absolute intelligence is something that makes this breed a good fit for almost any home, especially a home with children. However, these dogs can be quite destructive from puppy-hood until they reach adolescence, and therefore we found it necessary to write an article about their chewing habits and how to manage destructive chewing with different toys, strategies, and chews.
Should you fail to assist your puppy by allowing him to chew or providing things to chew, he will most certainly direct his chewing towards something else. So, if you still want to have plants in your garden, in tact furniture or a working TV remote, we suggest getting your puppy a few of the listed toys or chews below.
One of our favorite toys of all time is the Kong toy. This toy is not only indestructible, but it can keep your puppy busy for hours. You can stuff yummy treats, soft food, beef jerky, peanut butter or Kong stuffing into the Kong toy and freeze it. You can fill the Kong toy every evening, and give the frozen toy to your puppy before you leave for work. Because the stuffing is frozen, it makes the yummy treats more difficult to get out and in turn keeps your puppy interested for much longer. There is also the extra benefit of soothing their itchy gums while going through the teething phase. The Kong toy is also a lot of fun to play fetch with, as it bounces into unpredictable directions.
Balls – Fetching and Treat releasing
You could also buy your Labrador balls of different variations. Tennis balls are an old favorite. However, some Labradors show more interest in balls that make noises. For instance, a ball that has a few bells in it or one that squeaks can be far more exciting for your dog, as they tend to get bored quickly. Because Labradors are natural retrievers, a ball or something to chase down will always be a good choice. There are also treat balls available, which you can fill with small training treats and your puppy can roll the ball around to release the treats inside.
Automatic Ball Throwers
Not there to throw a ball all day? No problem. You can invest in an automatic tennis ball launcher which works wonders to keep your puppy entertained and out of trouble. The introduction to an automatic ball thrower should be done in the most positive way possible. Get your puppy super excited about the machine and reward it for retrieving the ball.
Rope toys are also a favorite for most Labradors because they usually love playing tug. My Labrador is sadly the only dog in my household that loves this game, which means he never gets any of the other dogs to participate in tugging, and I keep drawing the short straw there.
Stuffed or Soft Toys
Some Labradors adore their stuffed toys! Stuffed toys can be anything from a teddy bear to a soft bone with a squeaky whistle in them. If your Labrador is a heavy chewer, make sure to watch that it does not destroy the soft toy. They usually enjoy ripping open the toy and taking out all the stuffing, leaving quite a mess behind.
Another great helper to curb destructive chewing is the old faithful cow hoof. The hoofs are relatively safe for puppies to chew on, but as your dog gets older and develops stronger jaws, it is best not to have them chew the cow hoofs because it can splinter or hurt your dog’s mouth. Rawhide chews are also a popular choice to keep your puppy happily chewing, however, make sure that your vet is in agreement with this, as some vets advise against using these chews.
Keeping Toys Interesting
During my dog training studies, I have also learned that rotating toys are very important. Just like children, dogs also get tired of playing with the same toys over and over, so what I did was, every morning before I leave for work, I would round up the previous day’s toys, and swap them for other toys. I always made sure to leave at least 3 toys of different variations at a time, for instance, a soft toy, a rope, and a ball.
You can keep toys interesting by using scents on them. Although Labradors are not as scent orientated as some of the scent hounds would be, they still have fantastic noses and appreciate scented toys. These scents can range from Lavender, Lemongrass or Citrus to blood scents and deer urine. The scent can make an otherwise unwanted toy seem like the best thing on earth to your dog. Many of these scents have shown to be therapeutic in reducing stress or giving comfort to your dog.
Before you think that giving your Labrador so many variations of toys are spoiling them, we can assure you that it is not so much spoiling than it is preventative measures to keep your sprinkler system, plants, furniture and car bumper (yes, that happens) in tact. Every dog has a preference for toys, so make sure you buy the toys your dog enjoys playing with. For a Labrador puppy, most toys are exciting and fun, so you cannot go wrong with any of the toys mentioned above.