We got a puppy! We love him so, but he’s teething and chewing on everything (and everyone) in the house. How do we deal with puppy teething?
Teething woes in Woodland Heights
Dear Teething Woes,
You’re experiencing one of the least-charming aspects of new puppy ownership: the teething phase. There are a number of reasons puppies nip, bite and chew. This behavior starts before puppies even leave the litter. As soon as they start to develop teeth, they begin receiving feedback on their bite strength from their mothers and littermates. Another reason puppies bite is because it makes exciting things happen– biting earns attention!
Physical functions of chewing
Aside from the social aspects of chewing, chewing serves a physical function as well. As adult teeth are erupting from the gums (between 14 and 30 weeks of age), the pressure that chewing puts on their gums helps to make them feel better, and it also encourages the baby teeth to fall out and leave room for the adult ones to grow in.
How to discourage puppy chewing
So, what can you do to discourage your puppy from chewing on inappropriate things during this trying phase? Good chew toys are a must. These include sturdy, durable rubber chew toys (Kong puppy teething toys are some of the most popular ones in this category); interesting multi-surface toys which combine fabrics, rubber and even rope materials; flexible nylon/thermoplastic polymer toys in a huge variety of shapes and sizes (Nylabone puppy teething toys) and even edible toys such as the popular Nylabone DuraChew and HealthyEdibles bones.
Some of these toys are specifically designed to be frozen or refrigerated, and maintain that coolness for a period of time. The cold helps reduce swelling and inflammation in your puppy’s little gums and also help to deaden the discomfort or pain. Additionally, you can freeze whole carrots to give your teething puppy a nutritious snack that will also help soothe uncomfortable gums.
As for as how to cope with the behavioral aspects of chewing and biting, a firm stance is necessary. When you play with your puppy, let him mouth on your hands. Continue play until he bites especially hard. When he does, immediately give a high-pitched yelp (as if you’re hurt) or a loud, stern “NO!” and let your hand go limp. This should startle your puppy and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. Praise your puppy for stopping or for licking you. Resume whatever you were doing before. If your puppy bites you hard again, repeat. Repeat these steps no more than three times within a 15-minute period.
With a little discipline, some handy chew toys and a lot of patience, you should be able to convey to your puppy that biting people and other household items is unacceptable. Puppies are eager to please and quick to learn, so hopefully the teething phase will soon be a distant memory. Good luck with the training!
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