Dangerous chewing habits

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

Answer

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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