Pickle has started teething, at least we’ve started noticing. She’s lost two of her canine teeth in the last 4 days. For a while before that she was in obvious discomfort and was flicking her tongue a lot, and sure enough the teeth started to fall out.
Unfortunately, the teething process presents lots of other issues beyond lost teeth and a grumpy puppy. Puppies, and dogs in general, use their mouths to explore and discover the world. The teething process amps up their mouthing and encourages them to put more and more things in their mouths, including your expensive boots and table legs.
So what are you to do? How do you allow your puppy the comfort of chewing without them becoming disruptive? Luckily, I can provide some answers. Some solutions are for those with a puppy currently teething, others address the future anticipation of them falling out. There’s a little bit for everyone.
1) Prepare Early
So you have an 8-week old puppy, brand new to your home. She’s curious and ready to discover all the new and wonderful things around her new home. Problem is, she’s mouthing everything, the base boards, your slippers, your hands. What are you to do?
A couple of training tips come to mind first. Teaching your pup “leave it” will be super valuable, as will “trading up”. We taught Pickle how to leave it whenever she was chewing on something that wasn’t hers. When we said “leave it”, the instant she gave her attention to us and away from whatever she was chewing on, we’d praise her and shower her with treats. This plays right into “trading up”, trading something more valuable to your dog to get her to leave whatever she is chewing on.
When walks become more common, “leave it” will become valuable for all those gross things left on the sidewalk and curbside. At least you’ll have a fighting chance when your dog does it.
I also caution you against leaving lots of valuable things on the floor with an unattended puppy. Once Pickle was potty trained, she gained free reign of the house. That meant that all shoes, books, anything that wasn’t meant for Pickle was put up on a shelf out of her reach. One flip-flop was enough to teach us to pay attention.
2) Too Late, She’s Already Teething
Okay, not a big deal. Now more than ever the important thing is to make sure your puppy knows the difference between acceptable and unacceptable things to chew. It may be a rough few weeks, but it helps to remind yourself that your puppy is losing those dreaded pin needle teeth!
First, give your pup some good things to chew on. Ice is a fantastic toy when a puppy is teething, it’s fun to chase, it numbs their gums, and even hydrates them! On a hot day it helps to cool their body temperature, so great! You can use fancy teething rings (much like for babies) but this works great for us (just make sure to watch where they go in case they melt and leave a puddle). Cool fruits and vegetables are also helpful, they are healthy, provide nutrients, and taste delicious! Apples and carrots are best (biased, maybe).
Don’t leave things on the ground you are afraid to lose. I can’t stress this enough. You have to pay attention! You should also only leave toys out that are obviously different from your puppies toys. No squeaky shoe toys, for example. Don’t confuse them.
Now that your puppy is teething, make sure to check its gums and teeth to make sure they are growing in correctly. Sometimes the adult teeth will grow in beside the baby teeth, and could potentially decay and cause abscesses that will damage the adult tooth. Check for any signs of irritation or if anything is growing in wrong, and be sure to consult your veterinarian if you have any issues.
Lastly, don’t scold your puppy. Physical or verbal abuse is never acceptable, but during a learning phase when your dog is already potentially stressed out it could have reverse effects. Just don’t do it.
Puppies are going to explore the world and use their mouths to do it. They are instinctively curious, and we can’t blame them for wanting to discover the world around them. But with a couple of simple tricks you can limit the damage to the furniture and to your wardrobe. Remember to pay attention, and don’t blame your puppy when something goes wrong. They don’t know any better, and now armed with these tools, you can teach them!