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10 Puppy Teething Survival Tips and Best Solutions

Teething puppy relief
Puppy teething begins with the first eruption of milk teeth

When Do Puppies Start and Stop Teething

Depending on your puppy’s breed, teething will begin somewhere between 12 and 14 weeks, and the small, sharp milk teeth will begin to be pushed out by the larger adult teeth. The teething phase typically lasts 3 months, and puppies should be finished with the process by eight months of age. Large dog breeds tend to start and complete teething faster than smaller breeds.   

With this developmental stage comes a new set of challenges. This is the puppy equivalent to the “terrible twos” -staircase balusters, window sills, house plants, leashes, table and chair legs, shoes and socks, all are fair game to the teething puppy, that does not yet know its boundaries. If she can get her mouth around it, it’s going to be fun to destroy!

Puppy Preparing for Teething Phase

Puppy Teething Signs and Symptoms

  • Red inflamed and swollen gums.
  • Bulging gums where new teeth are about to erupt.
  • Small amounts of blood left on toys caused by tooth loss.
  • Mild fever.
  • Inappetance or slow chewing (you can moisten your puppy's dry kibble with a little canned dog food to make chewing easier during this phase).
  • Drooling (depending on the breed, some breeds have "wet mouths."
  • Short attention span, fussiness or mild irritability.
  • Changes in the puppy's ear set. Ears tend to go prick or flop over as the jaw grows.

Puppies chew on their littermates

Why Do Puppies Chew?

Like infants, puppies explore the world by putting objects in their mouths. As they mature, dogs continue to place a high emphasis on how an object feels in its mouth, to gain understanding of a new item. 

It appears dogs use their mouths, much the same way we use our hands in order to determine the physical properties of a new article in his environment.  Dogs use their mouths not only to grasp objects, but also to form a definition of an object. Puppies chew in part to explore their world and learn about new objects, additionally, during the teething phase, gnawing brings relief to hot, irritated gums.

A Puppy Tooth That Won't Fall Out

During the teething phase you will want to keep an eye out for any retained baby teeth. Normally the adult tooth is aligned with the milk tooth, and easily dislodges its predecessor. However, sometimes the adult tooth will come in beside the baby tooth, and fail to push it out. If the baby tooth is in their firmly, it will need to be removed by your veterinarian, as it may decay and can cause an abscess, which can affect the health of the permanent tooth as well.

Misaligned puppy teeth
Example of a wry bite caused by misaligned puppy teeth.

Misaligned Teeth in Puppies

You will also want to check for any misalignment of the teeth.  Upper and lower teeth that do not properly align can cause a "wry bite." A wry bite means that the jaw has been pulled out to one side due to one tooth getting hung up on its corresponding tooth on the upper or lower jaw. In extreme cases the lower jaw is noticeably off to one side, making it very difficult for the dog to chew.  If you catch it early, the tooth that is causing the misalignment can be removed, taking the pressure off of the jaw, and allowing it to develop normally.

Do not allow your puppy to chew on hard bones during the teething phase.  

This includes soup bones and marrow bones. These bones can crack the milk teeth in two, causing them to retain, rather than shed, as the adult tooth is erupting.  If the erupting tooth is diverted by the retained tooth, it can cause misalignment of the rest of the teeth, resulting in a wry bite. 

Keep in mind, as the puppy begins to teeth, the jaw is growing rapidly; the gums are inflamed from cutting new teeth, and your puppy is, in general, feeling pretty miserable. This is not a good time to do any serious training outside of basic puppy manners. He or she is going to be crabby, easily distracted and not a good candidate for learning new tricks. You will both be frustrated with any advanced training in this phase of your puppy’s development.

To help ease his pain and yours, here are some tips and tools of the trade that we and other breeders have used with success to channel a puppy’s need to chew towards appropriate objects. Included are some of the best teething toys for puppies of all breeds as well as chew deterrents.  Additionally, the training techniques discussed will help him learn some important boundaries in his relationship with his new family members.

Best Puppy Teething Toys 

These puppy teething toys will ease your puppy's pain as well as your own.

  • Frozen Carrots
  • Uncooked Sweet Potatoes
  • Mini pumpkins in quarters (easy enough for them to carry away)
  • Chilly Bone chew toy
  • Nylabone puppy keys chew toys
  • Kong puppy chew toys
  • Kong puppy wubba
  • Wet frozen rope toys (Buddha Bone)

Best Puppy Chewing Deterrents

Best training tips for keeping your furniture safe:

  • Grannicks Bitter Apple Spray
  • Teach your puppy "Leave it."
  • Learn to Trade Up 
  • Soft Mouth Training
  • Crate Training

 Teach “Leave It!”

It’s a good idea to begin to teach your puppy the “Leave It!” command, as soon as you bring him home. A good “Leave It” will prevent you from getting into a tug of war over an object that you value, leaving it in worse condition than when you first discovered it in puppy’s mouth.

“Leave It!” is taught by playing tug with your puppy with a preferred toy. When you want the puppy to let go of the toy, you say “Leave It,” holding the toy with one hand, and producing a treat in the other hand. The puppy will release the toy for the treat, and you reward the puppy with the treat, saying, “Good Leave It!” Eventually, you will replace the treat with another favored toy, alternating between a reward of favored toy or treat until the puppy has a firm grasp of the phrase “Leave It.”

Gonuts Teething toys
Learning to Trade Up with the favorite Goughnuts Teething Toy

Trade Up 

Whenever you find your puppy chewing on something inappropriate, correct him with a calm “no.” Then trade up by offering him a toy that you know he likes. Once he starts chewing on the correct toy, praise and pet him.

Always try to find a way for your puppy to be “right” and deserving of praise at the end of any training session or correction. In times when a training session has not resulted in a breakthrough, end the session with a command that the puppy knows well, so that it can be ended with a “good dog,” praise and a treat.

Soft Mouth Training for Your Puppy

I like to be able to put my hands in my dog’s mouth whenever I need to give her a pill or remove something from the back of her throat that I don’t want her to swallow.  Teaching a soft mouth and eliminating nipping and biting at an early stage in the puppies development is critical.  A cute nip or bite from a puppy can become a dangerous liability in a grown dog.

Teaching a soft mouth can be done by lying on the floor with the puppy while playing a little game of tug. Remove the toy from your puppy's mouth and gently play with the lower jaw. It’s okay to let him gently “mouth” your hand, but if he bites down hard make a sharp, high pitched “ouch.” If he persists in snapping, say "no" and clamp his mouth shut gently but firmly for 1-2 seconds.

This action mimics his mother’s method of correction, and has a calming effect on the puppy. When the mother sees behavior she does not like, she will snap the puppy’s mouth closed with gentle bites in quick succession. You can use this technique to stop nipping and barking as well. Snapping their mouths shut has been equated to sticking the puppy’s head in the toilet, so don’t go overboard, or hold their mouths shut for more than 2-3 seconds.

Crate Training

We recommend crate training for protecting the household when you are asleep or away and also to aid in potty training. Dogs are den animals and love small dark spaces to call their own. In the wild, mothers dig underground dens for a safe haven to whelp and raise their litters. Puppies will stay under ground until they begin to walk steadily enough to climb out of the den, usually around 3 to 4 weeks old.

If your puppy has not been crated before, you can expect a night or two of lamentation at having his activities restricted. Don’t feel too bad about it; he should cry himself to sleep within 45 minutes of being crated, and typically they adjust to being crated at bedtime after 2 nights.

 Feeding your puppy in the crate will help him to appreciate his new space. Also, toss in a treat whenever you want him to get in the crate; eventually he will go to the crate on his own when he is ready for a nap or just to relax. Be sure the puppy has access to clean water while he is in his crate. To Learn More About Crate Training click here.

Puppy Teething Toys and Remedies

Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray

Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray has prevented our dogs from chewing on leads, furniture and themselves. The taste is unpleasant, and puppies generally look for something else to chew on. Spray down any hard surfaces that your puppy may be inclined to chew on: window sills, stair railings, furniture legs etc… Color test any fabric before you spray Grannick's on large areas of cloth.
Stop puppy chewing on furniture
Number one puppy chew deterrent.

5 Foolproof Puppy Teething Toys

The Chilly Bone Dog Chew Toy

MultiPet makes a very durable toy called the Chilly Bone. This toy lasted us through 3 generations of teething puppies, before it disappeared in the backyard. It may still be out there in reasonably good condition.

The Chilly Bone is covered with a tough canvas outer and filled with a non-toxic gel that freezes quickly in the freezer. This toy numbs the sore gums and cools the tendency towards feverishness. It’s great for the adult dogs too on hot summer days, helping to lower body temperature after exercise in the heat of the day. Rinse with plain soap and water and freeze while still damp once it has thawed.

We recommend keeping two of these toys, so that one can be freezing while the other is in play.

Most soothing chew toy for teething puppies

Nylabone Puppy Keys and Teething Rings

This series of toys, the puppy keys and puppy teething ring, are mysteriously appealing to puppies.  This is always the preferred toy for our puppy litters. The dominant puppy is usually the victor, while others scheme for their opportunity to gnaw on the precious. The nylon is infused with bacon flavoring, that is not detectable to humans, but is very delicious to puppies. 

The Nylabone puppy keys and teething ring toys are made with a soft yet from nylon material that is appropriate only for puppy teeth. Once the adult molars begin to come in, you will need to remove this toy, as adult molars can easily crack of chunks of the toy, that may then be swallowed. 

Nylabone Just For Puppies Medium Key Ring Bone Puppy Dog Teething Chew Toy

The puppy teething ring chew toy
Nylabone Teething Rings come in various sizes for large to small breed puppies. 

Rope Toys

Rope toys are some of the best teething toys as they are inexpensive, easy to clean, versatile and last into adulthood. Rope toys are great for teaching fetch, tug or for solitary chewing activities. They also promote dental health by helping to clean teeth and strengthen gums. Rinse the toys with plain soap and water every few days, and freeze them while still wet for extra soothing chewing.

Best teething puppy toys
The Kong Snugga Wubba has a squeaker for added puppy interest.

Kong Chew Toys

The Kong Company makes a variety of tough toys that are great for all levels of chewers. The original Kong product line includes hard rubber toys in which treats may be hidden. Puppies will work these toys for hours trying to dig the treats out of them.

The Kong Wubba toy line, which resembles an octopus, is great for fetch and tug games. These colorful and tough toys will last beyond a year in most multi dog households. Wubbas come in a variety of sizes from Puppy Snugga Wubba up to Mega Wubba. Our boy Boomer keeps a large Wubba in his mouth about 30% of the day!

top teething puppy chew toy
The Kong Puppy Classic chew toy adds interest with an
unpredictable bounce with treats stuffed in the cavity.

Chilled Carrots Are Good For Puppies

A cold carrot soothes the gums, tastes great and is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids, Vitamins A and K and Potassium. Puppies love chewing on carrots and watching them disintegrate. As carrots are also high in fiber, limit the puppy to one carrot per day to avoid stomach upsets.

The Naughty Paws Puppy Teething Survival Kit 

Wags-n-Whiskers-Gifts and Gift Baskets makes a gift basket for training and entertaining teething puppies. Consider investing in this gift basket in preparation for the inevitable terrible teething phase - it's the gift that keeps on giving!

In addition to healthy training treats, it includes Grannicks Bitter Apple, the Chilly Bone, a dental rope toy, a training clicker complete with a training guide, a dental cleaning kit, a poop bag dispenser with refills, Training Treats, a plush toy with replaceable squeakers, 1 Skinneeez stuffing-free toy, a 160 oz food or water bowl. (Get it with an extra 10% off with Coupon Code RP2012 and Free Shipping)

(Wags and Whiskers Gifts also offers many pet play pen options for indoors and outdoors as well as crates with dividers for puppies to grow into. The discount coupon can be used on the entire order!)

Large breed puppy Teething Gift Basket

Wags and Whiskers Puppy Teething Survival Kit

Includes many teething supplies as well as clicker training manual and clicker.

Toys to Avoid

Don't confuse your puppy by providing him with cute toys that resemble objects that you don't want destroyed, such as rubber tennis shoes with squeakers, imitation remote controls or cell phones.

Remember that consistency is the key to all successful puppy training – the teething phase won’t last forever, but the good habits you instill in him or her now will last a lifetime!

Related Articles on Dog Teeth and Teething: 

Top 10 Puppy Chew Toys for Teething Puppies

How to Inspect Dogs' Teeth To Determine Their Age

5 Essential Toys for Retriever Puppies 

Need Some ideas for New Puppy and Dog Names? Check out these articles for some inspiration:

teething border collie puppy

60 Greek Names that Make Cool Names For Male Dogs

30 Powerful Names for Your Noble Guard Dog

18 Irish and Scottish Names for Male Dogs From Myths and Legend

50 Greek Names That Make Cool Names For Female Dogs

47 Meaningful Native American Names For Female Dogs

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