Puppy Teething Tips
You probably know that behaviors like nipping and chewing are all natural for young dogs. But do you ever wonder why dogs get so much satisfaction out of these behaviors? In this guide to puppy teething, we'll explain your dog's fascination with his own mouth and give you tips to help him direct energy in a positive way.
Why puppies love chewing
Teething and mouthing are important puppy behaviors. When your puppy nips or chews, you may think he's just looking for attention-and you might be right. Sometimes puppies (and adult dogs) chew because they're bored. But a big part of the reason why puppies need to chew so much is because it allows them to discover the world.
Just like children, puppies are born with few sensory capabilities and poor motor skills. But unlike humans, puppies are born with strong senses of taste and smell. As a result, a lot of what they learn about the world around them is gathered through putting things in their mouth.
Puppy Teething Solutions
The puppy teething phase starts around week 16 (four months old). This is when your puppy's permanent teeth will begin to appear. During this phase, it's important to encourage your puppy to chew on proper chew toys. If you reward him for chewing appropriate toys like teething rings, sticks or pacifiers, he'll learn what he is and is not allowed to chew.
You can teach your puppy to direct his chewing habits in a positive way with the following puppy teething tips:
- Never squeeze your puppy's mouth shut, grab him by the scruff, slap him or use any type of physical punishment, since it usually makes the behavior worse.
- Avoid waving your fingers or toes in your puppy's face, or tapping the sides of his face to entice him to play. Interacting this way can actually encourage your puppy to bite your hands and feet.
- Taste deterrents are meant to discourage dog teething, as well as, the urge to chew and lick things that should be off-limits. Pet parents can apply taste deterrents to various off-limits objects outdoors and around the house-and even to their own hands. (Please ask a vet before applying any taste deterrent to your dog's skin or fur. Some products can sting if put onto raw or broken skin.)
- Persuade your pet to take part in non-contact forms of play, such as fetch and tug-of-war, rather than wrestling and rough play with your hands.
- If your puppy gets overly excited when he stroke, pat or scratch him, distract him by feeding small treats from your other hand. This puppy teething method helps your puppy get used to being touched without applying his teeth.
- If your puppy does nip you, say "ouch!" in a high-pitched voice and walk away. The best way to teach your puppy that nipping is bad behavior is by withdrawing your attention from him. When he stops nipping, reward him with affection and praise. (For more information on encouraging your puppy's good behavior, check out PetSmart Training's Puppy Training IQ Test.)
Use these puppy teething tips, and you can help encourage a lifetime of good behavior and health for your companion.