Australian Shepherd puppies are sometimes accused of being more voracious chewers than the average puppy, but this is not true. Every puppy needs to chew and Aussie puppies are no different.
Chewing is a natural behavior for all dog breeds and dogs of any age, especially puppies. Providing suitable outlets for chewing is important for your Aussie’s health, happiness and to curb potentially destructive chewing behavior.
Keep reading to understand the reasons an Australian Shepherd needs to chew and which chews are best.
Why Aussie Puppies Need to Chew
First, all puppies are naturally curious about their surroundings and explore using their nose and mouth. This means licking, nibbling, and unfortunately, chewing things that seem interesting. It’s important to keep garbage, shoes, and any harmful plant matter far away from your Aussie pup, and substitute those smells with healthy toys that smell delicious and offer some constructive chewing relief.
Second, an Aussie puppy may also want to engage in some rough, nipping play with their humans. This is perfectly natural but can be frustrating when it ends in torn clothing, chewed shoes, or bite marks. When your Aussie pup wants to play, divert the chewing and nipping play to appropriate toys from day one. Providing a variety of toys will encourage the puppy to play chew on the right things, and just might save your favorite sneakers.
And finally, your puppy will chew when it is teething. From three to eight weeks old, and then again from about four to six months old, your Aussie will be teething, and it is painful. They need to relieve the nagging pain by chewing on something. Providing pain-relieving chew toys is a service to both your dog and your household belongings. Beyond teething, Aussies will have a desire and need to chew for their lifetime.
Here are my top ten chew toys for your Aussie puppy.
Every pet store is full of adorable plush toys for you to buy for your puppy. These are a great soft option for playing rough games with your puppy. These little plush toys give the puppy a nice soft toy to bite and save your hands from nipping. These are also a great alternative when your puppy wants to chew something soft such as a pillow or slipper. Use a fun plush toy to distract your puppy from this destructive behavior.
A few words of caution on plush toys:
- Plush toys should be used during supervised play only. Do not leave your puppy home alone with plush toys to chew. They are easily destroyed, and your puppy will likely ingest large amounts of stuffing, which is not healthy.
- If the toy has a squeaker, this can also be ingested and possibly lead to an intestinal blockage.
For these reasons, enjoy the plush toys, and encourage your puppy to play and get out some aggression with them, but then put them away when playtime is over. Your puppy will look forward to plushie playtime and you’ll both benefit from the quality bonding time.
Along with plush toys, every pet store is full of rope toys. These toys are so much fun when dogs are learning to play tug-of-war. Tugging is a great game to play with high-energy Aussie puppies and is great for relationship building. When you find that your dog is taking things from you to get you to play, a good game of tug is a great way to redirect this energy.
These toys should also not be left alone with any dog. They can be chewed apart, and the strings can be ingested by the dog, potentially causing intestinal blockages. In fact, when long strings are ingested, they can get wound around inside the intestine potentially causing damage to the dog that requires surgery.
For the safety of your Aussie, take them out for playtime, then put rope toys away when you’re done. Never let the dog sit and chew on the rope toy. It should be reserved for playtime together only. Check frequently for fraying. When the rope toy begins showing wear and tear, it is time to buy a new high-quality rope toy.
A fresh or frozen raw bone can be a great treat for your Aussie. When your dog tries to chew things such as leather shoes, purses, or furniture, a great redirect may be a raw bone.
Many dog owners seek to raise their dogs as close to nature as possible. In this case, there is nothing more natural than a raw bone for your dog. It’s important to check with your vet about which bones are right for your Aussie. In general, there are several factors to consider when giving your dog a raw bone to chew on.
- The bone should be longer than the dog’s muzzle. This is so that the bone can not be swallowed whole, causing the dog to choke.
- The bone should be given in supervised intervals of 15 to 20 minutes, and then discarded.
- Always supervise the dog when it is chewing the bone. If the dog is breaking off large portions of the bone, then take it away and discard it. This could pose a choking hazard, especially for puppies.
- Never give any dog a cooked bone. Cooked bones will break off in shards, which will most certainly choke, cut, injure, and could even cause death.
- While you can get bones cut for dogs from a reputable local butcher, you can also consider purchasing them from name-brand dog food companies. These are cut and processed to be safer for dogs to enjoy.
Pressed Bones Made
As an alternative to real raw bones, you can purchase pressed bones made by reputable companies such as the American Kennel Club or Blue Buffalo. These bones are manufactured with ingredients that are safe and nutritious for dogs of all breeds and are safe for them to chew up to the very last bite.
An added benefit to the manufactured bones is that you can find ones that are sized appropriately for every breed, and even sized and shaped for puppies. They are also pressed tightly so that it takes a while for most puppies to chew them up completely. Be aware that some flavors may have dyes that can be transferred to carpets and fabrics.
A delicious bone treat can be a nice way to encourage your dog to settle down after a long day. From puppyhood, you can train your dog to enjoy a relaxing evening with you and your family by treating the dog to a long-lasting chew bone. This helps your dog to feel comfortable, accepted, relaxed and also satisfies the urge to chew. Encouraging this pack behavior is a wonderful way to avoid behavioral chewing problems.
GREENIES Dental Chews
These little dental chews are available for puppies as young as six months and as small as five pounds. GREENIES are a pressed dental chew that is full of healthy and beneficial ingredients. Teenie GREENIES are specially formulated and shaped to encourage healthy tooth and jaw development in puppies. These are also softer than the GREENIES made for larger dogs.
GREENIES help to freshen your dog’s breath, and also help clean the teeth down to the gumline. Because the Greenies have various smells and flavors from mint to blueberry, it can be difficult to get an older dog hooked on these treats. This is why starting from puppyhood is such a great idea.
Use GREENIES as a special wind-down chewing treat, and your puppy will look forward to spending this time with you. As your Aussie pup gets older, you can transition to regular GREENIES and enjoy the freshened breath and cleaner teeth that are such a great benefit to having a dog hooked on freshening dental chews.
Bully sticks are a natural and digestible chew, made of a single-ingredient, bull pizzle or penis, that has been dried. Bully sticks are initially hard but soften during chew time, providing a satisfying chew session while still being gentle on developing teeth and gums.
In addition to a satisfying chew, bully sticks also clean teeth, as do other chew toys. But bully sticks are especially tough on plaque, scraping away buildup on and between the teeth.
So how long should an Aussie puppy chew on a bully stick? It’s recommended to limit a puppy’s chew time to 5-10 supervised minutes to prevent stomach issues by digesting large amounts of the stick in one session.
The KONG Classic
This is the classic dog toy that has been around for ages, and for good reason. The KONG holds up to abuse, but it is not indestructible. Check the KONG regularly for wear and tear, and be sure to replace it with a new one when the dog starts causing it to break apart. This is especially important if you are stuffing the KONG with food to encourage exploratory play.
KONGs come in various sizes. Be sure to choose the right size for your dog. When in doubt, size up. You never want to give your dog a chew toy that fits in their mouth. This may lead to choking or accidental ingestion.
KONGs also come in various strengths from soft and chewy to virtually indestructible. If you choose a KONG and your dog destroys it in a matter of a few days, then you know that you need to get one made of tougher material.
Here are some great ways to use the KONG to help your dog satisfy the desire to chew without destroying your home.
- Freeze the KONG. If your dog is chewing because of teething pain, buy several KONGs and keep them in the freezer. This will be a cooling, satisfying way for your Aussie pup to soothe those sore gums. If your puppy isn’t very interested in the plain KONG, you can encourage chewing by placing a little treat inside.
- Make the KONG into a popsicle. If your puppy is experiencing teething pain and it is able to have a treat outside, consider filling the KONG with broth or a meaty soup before freezing it overnight. This is a treat that is sure to keep your Aussie pup busy and happy for a nice long time.
- Hide treats inside of the KONG. A bored puppy is bound to find something interesting to chew. Give your puppy a KONG filled with his favorite treat. You can use dog-safe peanut butter, kibbles, or bacon frozen inside of a broth-filled KONG. This will keep your Aussie pup happily exploring the toy.
- KONG fetch. Tennis balls can be very dangerous for dogs to be left alone with. They will destroy the entire ball and can ingest some of the rubber and fabric. Play fetch with a KONG instead, and let the puppy chew on it as it learns to bring it back to you.
- Hide-and-seek. When a bored puppy starts to chew, it’s time to play an interesting game. Hide a delicious treat inside the KONG, and then hide the KONG inside or outside, and let your Aussie puppy learn to smell and find it. This is a wonderful brain-stimulating game and a very effective way to redirect chewing boredom.
Leaps & Bounds Chomp and Chew Light Up Ball Dog Toy
If your puppy is chewing from boredom, and you are looking for a great toy to leave with your Aussie pup that will keep its attention, this might be just the one. This is a light-up ball inside of another ball. The inner ball can be reached through holes in the outer ball. Further, the inner ball is covered with rubbery spines, and the outer ball is covered with chewy nubs.
The double-ball design along with the nubby texture means that as your Aussie bats and chases the ball, it will bounce along an unpredictable path, increasing the fun. This ball is sure to delight your puppy for long stretches at a time. If you have kids, this toy will probably delight them as well and encourage them to play with the puppy.
The ball is tough and made for chewers, but it is not indestructible and it does contain a battery inside the inner ball. Batteries are dangerous for dogs if ingested. Check the light up toy frequently and carefully for signs of wear and tear, and discard and/or replace it as soon as it begins looking worn.
The KONG Puppy and KONG Extreme Goodie Dog Bones
While there are many virtually indestructible dog bones on the market, dogs often don’t seem to find them interesting. They may chew on them at first and then quickly lose interest because it has no flavor, or very little flavor, and doesn’t fall apart. Some nylon dog bones and sticks can actually be chewed into pieces and pose a choking hazard.
When your puppy is very young, you should choose softer chew toys to encourage healthy teeth, gums, and jaw development. The KONG Puppy Goodie Dog Bone is made of softer material that is safe and soothing for teething puppies. It has Goodie Grabber ends for you to stuff with puppy snacks to encourage interactive play.
However, as your puppy grows, you may find that you need to use more durable chew toys. The KONG Extreme Goodie Dog Bone is made of all-natural rubber and is made especially for ravenous and destructive chewers.
Both versions of this bone have a great design that will encourage brain-developing and constructive play for the lifetime of your dog.
- Goodie Grabber holes on the ends for you to tuck treats, peanut butter, or a meat paste inside. The holes are quite small, so it will take a lot of chewing for your dog to get the treats out.
- The design means that the smell will continue to linger, encouraging more chew time, and keeping your dog out of trouble.
- This bone is also a great shape and design for playing fetch, hide-and-seek, or encouraging good behaviors with training.
- Fill the KONG Puppy or Extreme Goodie Dog Bone with peanut butter or a meat paste and then freeze it. This will give your Aussie puppy a nice cold, soothing, long-lasting chew toy that is sure to satisfy those chewing cravings.
The NOUGAT Crocodile Dog Toy for Aggressive Chewers
This little gem is cute and effective. It is made of virtually indestructible rubber and can be stuffed with meat paste, dog toothpaste, or peanut butter, depending on what you prefer for your dog. The NOUGAT crocodile may be a little large for a puppy’s first teething, but your Aussie should grow into it pretty quickly.
It squeaks, making it irresistible for chasing, chewing play, and aggressive fetching and tugging play. NOUGAT has also given the material a milk flavor, so it is more interesting to your puppy from the first sniff.
The NOUGAT crocodile is designed with both fun and utility in mind.
- The NOUGAT crocodile is covered with bumps that will soothe your puppy’s sore gums. This toy can also be frozen for additional soothing.
- The crocodile head sports two rows of nice big bristle teeth that help keep your puppy’s teeth and gums cleaner as it chews.
- The addition of dog toothpaste does not replace regular brushing, but it can help keep your Aussie’s mouth a little cleaner and more fresh.