Puppy biting (teething), varies from puppy to puppy, but it is a phase they all go through. Puppy teeth are sharp, painful when they make contact with your skin or damaging to furniture. So, what can be done to stop puppy biting?
At 5 to 6 weeks of age puppies should have all their baby teeth come in. This is the case until about 16 weeks when the baby teeth begin to fall out and the adult teeth erupt. It is by 6 months of age that all the adult teeth should have erupted. Knowing this helps us to understand the discomfort and pain our puppies must be feeling at this time. This phase can be accompanied by small blood spots on toys, swollen gums, crying or whining, slower than normal eating as well as increased chewing and mouthing behaviours.
The mouthing and chewing is being done to relieve the pain and discomfort. While they are teething, the mouthing and chewing is unlikely to stop because it is providing relief from the pain and discomfort they are feeling.
Puppies are also very curious about the world around them. They explore the world with their noses and their mouths. They were born blind and deaf, they are born exploring the world with their sense of smell and taste and texture. Puppy biting is normal and natural puppy behaviour.
This does not mean we that cannot reduce the mouthing and chewing and help guide our puppies through this phase of life.
Manage Your Puppies Space
As with all behaviour change, management plays a crucial role. Setting up an environment where our puppies can thrive, making appropriate choices by limiting or removing the options for inappropriate choices.
- Remove from the environment anything that you do not want puppy to chew. This means putting things away and out of reach of puppy.
- Restrict puppies access to areas of the house. Puppy cannot chew what they cannot access, keep certain areas of the house off limits until you are confident puppy has the life skills to make appropriate choices.
- Create a calm space. This can be the crate, puppy pen or small room in the house. Practice being calm in this space. Naps can be taken here along with sniff, lick and chew games to encourage calm behaviour.
- Scheduled rest times. Puppies sleep 18 to 20 hours a day, this reduces as they get older but a lot of good quality rest is still extremely important. A tired puppy can be a mouthy puppy. Have scheduled rest times where puppy is placed alone in a quiet space to rest and take a nap. This should happen a couple of times a day.
- Ensure they are being fed the correct amount. Puppies need a great deal of sustenance to support the incredible amount of growing they do. The amount of food needs to increased in proportion to their weight. Monitor their weight weekly and adjust accordingly.
- Always have toys in puppies environment. When puppy mouths on you or is chewing furniture it’s important to have something easily available to redirect the behaviour. In this way, you say “not that, chew this” and provide an appropriate outlet for the behaviour.
- As a last resort, there are bitter taste sprays on the market which can discourage our puppies chewing on furniture. The trick will be finding one that your puppy does not like the taste of.
Provide Appropriate Chew Options
The teething process causes pain and discomfort in the mouth, resulting in puppies biting to provide relief and soothe the gums. Providing your puppy with other options to chew, other options to gain relief can save you and your furniture. Since we cannot stop puppy biting entirely, redirecting it is a great alternative option.
- Rubber Chew Toys
- Hard Treat Chews
- Cold Teethers – these are freezable puppy chew toys helping to cool the gums and provide relief from soreness.
- Frozen wet washcloths or rope toys
- Frozen treats – Kongs are great for stuffing with yogurt, fruit, vegetables and peanut butter. These can then be frozen and given to puppies to help them with the pain of teething.
- Bones. Bones have many nutritional and calming benefits for our dogs. It is important, however, to understand the risks as well as what bones are appropriate for your puppy. Raw and Fresh have a wonderful blog article about this topic for more detailed information.
Teething Gels to Relieve Puppy Biting
Teething gels are a good way to reduce gum soreness and swelling. Since some of the puppy biting is motivated by pain, relieving the pain can help to stop the mouthing and chewing behaviour. Look for a teething gel that uses clove oil, chamomile, and peppermint. They are homeopathic remedies, these plant extracts have anti-inflammatory properties. Gels used for babies can contain ingredients, that while safe for babies, are toxic to puppies. Because of this always consult your veterinarian before trying anything not specifically sold for dogs.
Vets Best Puppy Dental Kit, is a puppy toothpaste which also contains natural anti inflammatory ingredients to calm and soothe the gums.
While you cannot completely stop the mouthing, don’t count out the impact training can have on guiding your puppy through this life stage. There are three skills that will be very helpful to you.
- Attention Noise – or known as a call and response cue. This is a noise that we teach pup means stop what you are doing and pay attention. If they are chewing something they shouldn’t this can allow you to interrupt them. Following this you can redirect to what they are allowed to chew.
- Leave It – this is a cue that teaches puppy not to touch something. A very useful skill to have in general if puppy is about to put something dangerous in their mouth. For mouthing and chewing you can use it to redirect puppy when they show an interest in something in the environment.
- Give – Leave it works to stop them chewing something, give is for when they already have an item they shouldn’t have. If they have something in their mouth, teaching a give is way to ask them to give it up.
If you have a little chomper at home, contact Activate and let me help you work out a training plan that will guide your puppy through the teething process.