Author: John Woods
Puppies are born without teeth.
Their milk teeth start coming through when they are around 2-3 weeks old. At 8 weeks, your adorable pup will have a full set of milk teeth. At this point, they then start falling out thanks to the adult teeth forming which push the baby teeth out.
Their milk teeth should have fallen out by the time they are 6-8 months old.
That’s quite a lot going on in such a small mouth in such a short period of time.
Not surprisingly, this whole process can be quite painful for your puppy.
Why Do Puppies Chew?
Like human babies, it’s clear that when puppies mouth and chew during this time, it provides some comfort to them.
Puppies don’t only mouth and chew to relieve pain, they also use their mouths to explore the world.
If you spend any time watching puppies play, they use their mouth a lot. They pick everything up. This is largely due to the feedback they received very early on from their littermates and mother. Their sharp puppy teeth are crucial in their journey to independence and in learning social skills.
When a puppy latches on to its mother with his sharp teeth, the Mother will become irritated by the pin-prick stabbings (if you’ve had a puppy you know that this is exactly the correct description!), she will become reluctant to nurse which will encourage the puppies to search for alternative sources of food – great news for the weaning process!
Not only that but during play with littermates, if a puppy bites too hard, their littermate will likely yelp. Play usually stops after this altercation. This teaches the offender “hey, that was a little too hard, I’m not willing to play if it hurts!” Through trial and error, puppies learn acceptable behavior with other dogs.
So, if your puppy is chewing and mouthing, it is totally normal behavior.
They are exploring the world, attempting to understand general etiquette and trying to dull the pain of those adult teeth popping through!
Most puppies will stop this behavior between 6-8 months, not surprisingly when all their adult teeth have fully appeared. But it’s not just a case of waiting it out. You can make the process a little more comfortable for your pup and for your skirting boards and furniture! As part of their learning, they still need to understand that chewing the house to pieces is unacceptable behavior.
So How Do You Tackle Puppy Chewing And Mouthing?
First, if they are chewing on something they shouldn’t, replace it with something they can chew – a toy, a chew, a rope, etc. It’s sometimes beneficial to have boxes of toys/chews and rotate them.
Dogs can get bored, so you stand more of a chance of being interested in toys/chews if they don’t always have access to the same ones.
If they are chewing/mouthing you, withdraw attention and again give something they can chew. It’s sometimes easy to become animated or appear to “tug” your hand/clothing away.
This can send the message that you are playing which encourages pup even more.
Keep still as much as possible and if needed, throw a toy in a different direction.
The most important thing is to puppy-proof your home. Remove things they can easily access to chew.
Dog chewing is totally normal behavior, even in adult dogs.
But it’s important to understand the differences between normal and destructive chewing behavior.
A dog who suffers from separation anxiety may chew.
Dogs who have been weaned too early can also suck on fabric (often perceived as chewing behavior).
Dogs who have eating issues can also chew particularly random items. In any of these situations, it’s essential to seek professional help. To simply fulfill the natural instinct to chew, provide your adult dog with plenty of chews, toys, and activities to keep his mind occupied.
Puppies who chew are totally normal. Puppy proof your home and encourage alternative wanted behavior wherever possible.
Also, provide as much comfort as possible for the teething process; ice cubes, frozen carrots, teething rings, stuffed kongs, etc.
Adult dogs don’t typically destroy the house unless there is an underlying issue, but they are still partial to chew, so stock up on some hardy ones but remember to supervise all dogs whenever they are chewing any toy/food!