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You’ve had your pup for a couple of months now, and (optimistic assumption, here) you’ve managed to housebreak him and get him to sleep through the night by himself without the heartbreaking wails every fifteen minutes. Nice going!

However, you’ve discovered that you can’t leave your possessions any lower than six feet from the floor without getting teethmarks or dog spit on them, and you’re down about a hundred and fifty bucks in vet bills due to foreign object ingestion by the canine brat in question. What now?

The obvious solution is to keep dog and belongings separated. It works, and it should be done at the beginning when there’s so much for him to learn and his attention span is limited. But it’s not always going to be either convenient or possible. Therefore, don’t just dogproof the house; houseproof the dog.

It should go without saying that a young puppy not be given the run of the house until his attention span is functional and he’s fairly comfortable with basic rules, but I’ll say it anyway...just for grins. He needs supervision. BOY, does he need supervision!

Does your puppy have a clear idea of what does and does not belong to him? If not, you need to inform him that nothing belongs to him. Everything in the world is yours. He’s allowed access to specific items at specific times at your discretion, not his.

When you find him gnawing earnestly on your bedroom slipper, take it away from him with a very firm, “NO!” and substitute a chewable item he can work on without those pesky interruptions. Leave the slipper where he can reach it, and every time he moves toward it, (or anything else he might want to sample) repeat the “NO!” and hand him his chewtoy. Tell him what a wonderful dog he is when he takes it. When he gets the idea, retreat to someplace where he can’t easily see you, but where you can see him, and go through the performance again. At some point, it’ll dawn on him that munching unauthorized items brings down a Big-Dog Growl From The Sky and isn’t as much fun as he thought it was. And yes, it is entrapment. He’s a dog, for Pete’s sake...it’s your duty to set him up for a fall now and then. Just make sure you keep the sessions short...about five minutes... and end them on a positive note. When he’s concentrating on the chewtoy and nothing else, remove the temptations and praise the heck out of him. He’s only going to remember the last thing that happened to him, so even if you aren't very successful the first session or two, it's important he remember it as a pleasant time.

Since pups need to chew when they’re sprouting their adult teeth, you’ll have to make sure he has toys which are both safe for him and hard to destroy. Some good choices are nylon bones, real specially processed bones purchased at a reputable pet food store and meant for this purpose, or hard rubber balls too big for the puppy to accidentally choke on and which he can’t chew to bits and swallow. Ask your favorite pet dealer for help. A good store will have trained, informative personnel available to answer your questions.

Another thing that should go without saying, don’t supply an old shoe as a substitute for one you actually wear. You have no doubt already surmised that this is a concept your dog won’t be able to grasp at all. To him, a shoe is a shoe, whether it’s a K-Mart tenny runner your kid outgrew, or a Gucci loafer.

Finally, don’t be discouraged by an occasional fall from grace. Persistence and patience are surefire payoffs. Try to remember that while you’re applying scratch remover to the legs on Grandma Beasley’s genuine Shaker rocking chair.