Question: My wife and I have been following you since we got or malinois, Maddox, 13 months ago. We just added a new dog to the house, Ember, a 15 week old English black lab who I want to do waterfowl with. I have been following the Bella be good series, as well as many of your puppy seminars. I know you talk often about not playing tug of war with puppies, or doing too many retrieves with them to prevent bad habits, but what are your thoughts on chew toys in the house, while on place, or while in the crate? Or Mal loves to always have a chew toy, but I don't want to allow Ember to always have them if they could create bad habits as well.
Answer: I am not a fan of chews or chew toys with retrievers. I think they are great training tools...the problem is they train the opposite of what I am after. I think chewing is a habitual behavior and we help create the issue of developing a chewer by promoting the idea of a chew. My retrievers get rewarded with retrieves, not the chance to chew. I personally think it is best to keep things simple and fair when it comes to raising dogs and the big picture is what I always try to keep in mind when training. I like to avoid potential issues altogether rather than have to train them out later. I hope this helps and makes sense. Best of luck and enjoy the ride. Jeremy