Dangerous chewing habits


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Our question this week was:

My new puppy has recently taken up the habit of chewing up all cords in our house especially lamp cords that are plugged into the outlets. What is the best way to break this potentially dangerous habit?

Keri Ronk


Hi – thanks for your email. That is a VERY bad habit. Chewing on electrical cords is a common cause for electrocution. Injuries result from damage to nerve cells and the intense heat generated as the electricity passes through the body tissues. The most common source of electrical injury to dogs is when they bite electrical cords carrying low voltage household currents. This is most common in cats, puppies and kittens.

To prevent electrocution, keep all electric cords in a safe area and away from your puppy. Periodic check of electric cords for teeth marks. If you find teeth marks on electric cords, unplug the cord and have it replaced. You can also try to hide cords or prevent access to areas with low hanging cords.

I'd also recommend trying positive reinforcement training. When your puppy is chewing and playing with an appropriate toy, praise him. If you catch him in the act of chewing on a cord, create a diversion with a lot of noise (such as a shaking a can of rocks) and replace the cord with an appropriate chew toy. When his attention refocuses on the chew toy, praise him. Make sure you have lots of chew toys.

You could probably also try using products around the cords that cause aversion e.g. spaying products like "Bitter Apple" and other products near the cords that may make the area less appealing.

An article that might be helpful to you is on our Petplace.com is "Safe Chew Toys for Your Dog".

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.