Ending Destructive Behavior - Handling Chewing and Biting
Boxer puppies use their mouths to explore their environment, and biting is a natural part of puppy play with littermates.
They must be taught how to chew appropriately and that biting is never allowed, and prevention is crucial to this training.
To prevent destructive behavior, keep your Boxer confined whenever it is not directly supervised. Put plenty of safe toys in its crate or playpen, and be sure nothing outside is in reach. Older Boxers chew for pleasure and to alleviate boredom, but puppies often chew to ease teething discomfort. A variety of toys is best for any age, but offer a specially designed puppy teether to young Boxers.
Keep a variety of toys available when your Boxer is out of its crate or playpen, too. Nylabones, gumabones, and Kongs are durable, safe options. Quality rope bones, latex toys, dog tennis balls, and fleece or canvas plush toys add variety in texture. Boxers should only have toys sized to fit their large mouths. Rotate for a flow of new toys to keep chewing fun and entertaining. Discard and replace worn out items regularly
Edible treats such as rawhide bones or pigs' ears should not be given to puppies. They can interfere with digestion, disrupt your puppy's feeding schedule, and cause unexpected accidents. As your Boxer matures, you may consider introducing pressed rawhide products and sterile bones, but never allow their chewing unattended. Choking is a real hazard with edibles, so they are not a safe crate or playpen option.
Praise your Boxer often whenever you see it chewing appropriately. Should destructive chewing occur, take the item away immediately. Offer a substitution, and praise your Boxer for accepting the replacement. Keep toys everywhere so you never miss an opportunity to help your Boxer learn.
At worst, chewing may be destructive, but biting is a real danger. Never allow your Boxer to tug on hands or feet, or bite or chew on skin! Boxers are very social by nature, so one of the best ways to handle biting is to stop play immediately if a nip occurs. Yelp in mock pain to startle your pup out of play, give a firm no and leave the room. Return a few minutes later with a toy, and praise your puppy when play resumes.
With consistent repetition, your Boxer should learn that biting isn't fun. If biting persists, calmly end playtime by placing your Boxer in its crate or playpen. Then, leave it alone for some time out. Containment should never be used as punishment, so do not yell or act annoyed when you confine your puppy. Simply make it clear that biting ends playtime.
Be sure everyone in the household is consistent in your Boxer's training. If despite your best efforts, you cannot manage your Boxer's destructive behavior, talk to your veterinarian, and seek professional training. A lifetime of safe, fun chewing and playing is more than worth the cost and effort of good training.