Puppy Teething

Teething is a natural part of a puppy's growth. Generally, a puppy starts teething at age 5 months, and it can last until they are a year old. This is often the most frustrating period in which to own a dog. They'll just tear up anything they can get their hands on - chewing your socks, shoes, books, whatever. They feel a natural urge to chew on things, and unless you train them properly they will rip apart everything in your house. Here are a couple of tips to deal with teething.

   

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1) Get a chew toy of some kind. Do NOT let the puppy use one of your socks or old shoes as a chew toy. Get a commercial one or a rawhide bone of some kind. If the puppy uses anything similar to something else you don't want chewed on, it is going to learn that it's OK to chew on socks or shoes or whatever you give it. It won't discriminate between the old sock you gave it and the new one in your closet. A chew toy will give the puppy something acceptable to gnaw on.

2) Get a crate. Crate training is a method that is often used to train puppies to use the restroom properly, but you can use the principle to stop teething problems as well. When you're not at home, confine the puppy - either to a crate or to a room with nothing it can damage in it.

3) Use both positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is encouraging your puppy to chew on things you want him to chew on. That means the chew toys. When the puppy plays with them or chews on them, speak affectionately to it and encourage it to chew on them. Negative reinforcement is punishing the puppy for teething on things he's not supposed to. Do it only when you catch the puppy in the act. Many owners want to yell at their puppies after the fact - they find a chewed up shoe and go screaming at the puppy. Puppies don't understand this - they won't make the connection unless you do it when it's actually chewing on something.

Take the thing the puppy is chewing on from its mouth and say "No! Bad Dog!" or something to that effect. Then give the puppy its chew toy, and praise it if it chews on it.

4) Also look into getting some products made specifically for puppies who are teething. One good one is this thing:

It looks like some weird science project display piece, but it's actually a puppy teether. It only costs a couple of bucks online here. Basically, you put the thing in the freezer. When you take it out, it holds the cold inside it and remains soft and pliable. The cold helps a lot in soothing the pain of teething - meaning most puppies will want to chew on this as opposed to your stuff. You'll have to be a little more proactive about putting this in the freezer, and you might want other chew toys as backups - but it's a good concept for if you're having teething troubles.

 

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