The teething stage in puppies and kittens can be very trying and uncomfortable for both pet and guardian but there are natural solutions that can help. At around 4 months of age, puppies and kittens lose their first set of teeth and the adult teeth begin to emerge from the gums. The teething process and associated discomfort continues on and off for several months.
As with human babies, the puppy teething process is often painful or, at the very least, uncomfortable for your pet. Teething will be evidenced by an increase in chewing and biting on everything imaginable that your puppy can get its mouth on.
Teething discomfort will often make a puppy cry or show irritability as well as bite and chew on objects, including fingers. Appetite loss and diarrhea may also occur, though these symptoms are not common. While a puppy’s teething can be trying to guardians, the teething process helps the permanent teeth to emerge more easily from the gums. The puppy’s chewing helps to relieve the discomfort of the tooth coming through the gums. Easing the pain will reduce destructive teething behavior.
Eliminating the chewing of a teething puppy is not easily done and is probably unnecessary. However, you can minimize the damage rather than prevent biting and chewing altogether. Never hit, kick, slap or punish your dog no matter the circumstances or your level of frustration; this is the quickest way to erode the dog’s trust in you. (Yes, your pet will still love you; even abused dogs love their owners.)
The best solution is to give your pet some appropriate objects for chewing.
Firm and cold objects are best: some options include a frozen rubber teething toy, ring or a small wet towel that has been wrung out and put in the freezer for a while.
Purchase good things to chew on such as Kong toys or bully sticks. Kongs are made of tough rubber and can be filled with delectable treats such as peanut butter or cheese. Positively reinforce chewing on things your puppy is allowed to have with praise and petting. Negatively reinforce its chewing on inappropriate items by removing the item, saying “No”, and exchanging the object with a proper chew toy while offering positive approval. Do not allow your pet to chew on an old pair of socks or old leather shoe since this will register to your puppy that such items are there for its pleasure to be teething on and destroy.
It is important to use the puppy’s teething period as a training time, to teach your puppy about bite inhibition and limiting mouthing behavior for proper socialization. Dogs must learn to inhibit their bite before they are 4 months old. If at all possible, allow your puppy to socialize with other puppies and already socialized dogs. Puppies need to roll, tumble and play with each other. When they play, they bite each other everywhere. If the teething puppy gets too rough, it will find out quickly because of how the other dogs and puppies react. This happens naturally and is something we humans cannot accomplish nearly as well. The associated lessons are learned from trial and error through the puppy’s own experience. This is where pups learn to inhibit their biting and to control themselves. In packs of dogs, the mother or other dogs would teach this to the pups, but in a home situation, it is up to you.
Obviously, some household objects may prove a danger to your pet if chewed on, such as cables and cords. Keep all electrical wiring out of your teething puppy’s reach, coiled up, packed away or taped with heavy duty insulating tape. Also ensure that household chemicals are stored out of reach as you would for any baby.
Crate training will have the added benefit of protecting your puppy. Crating your puppy will keep it away from the deadly things he’d love to teeth on and chew to pieces when you’re not looking. Make the crate a safe and happy place for your dog by providing stimulating toys while it’s in the crate. The crate has the added benefit of aiding in potty training.
Teething is a stage all puppies and kittens must go through and it will pass fairly soon. However relieving your puppy’s pain or discomfort during the teething stage should be a priority, as well as protecting your possessions from the chewing compulsion.