All puppies go through a teething phase. This is when they outgrow their puppy teeth, which are replaced by more permanent, adult teeth. This happens at different times during a puppy’s life, depending on their breed. But the effects of teething are the same: damage to your house!
In this article, we explore why puppy teething can be a destructive phase and talk you through five steps that can make the whole process easier on both you and your pup.
Why can puppy teething be so destructive?
If you have been around dogs before, you will have encountered the teething phase. This is when your pup gets their permanent teeth, which causes their milk teeth to fall out. This means discomfort (and sometimes pain) for your pup: their gums may become red and swollen as and their teeth are falling out while new ones erupt. Who wouldn’t be uncomfortable?
Your pup handles puppy teething by chewing. Chewing helps ease some of the irritation on their gums (a bit like scratching an itch). Let’s not forget—your pup is young! Their mouth is a bit like your hand; it is what they use to explore and understand the world. Couple that with their natural curiosity and they may start to chew anything and everything in your house.
But just because it is nature’s way, it doesn’t mean you have to survive with chewed-up furniture and missing shoes. Keep on reading to find out ways of keeping a puppy-proof home so that teething is a piece of cake for both and your pup.
Creating a puppy-proof home
Distract them with chew toys
One of the best ways to keep a puppy away from your valuable items is to buy toys specifically designed for a teething puppy. Chew toys are extremely popular and readily available in the market. Puppies also grow attached to their toys at this age (even if they destroy it with their teeth) so a favourite chew toy can become your greatest ally in keeping your furniture untouched.
There are a range of chew toys you can invest in during the puppy teething phase. We would recommend buying several so that your puppy can move from one to the other, depending on their mood. The softness and chew-ability of the chew toy is important. When your pup has just started teething, they may need something softer on their milk teeth, whereas they would need something more durable and challenging once their jaw has developed and they have more power to their bite.
New entries to the market are chew toys that can be frozen. A Chilly Bone is a particular favourite among dog owners at the moment. This toy comes in the shape of a bone and is filled with a gel that freezes pretty quickly once placed in the freezer. It stays frozen for quite a while as well, so your pup can enjoy its cold goodness.
These freezeable toys are particularly attractive because they are soothing for your pup’s gums. This can be a special blessing for those pups who are having a rough time with the puppy teething process. Make sure you do not give your pup ice cubes though, as they may be too rough on their teeth. Frozen carrots are a good alternative to ice cubes, as they are softer on teeth.
If you do not want them to have it, replace it
A simple but effective strategy for getting a puppy-proof home is to train your puppy to only chew suitable items. Providing them with chew toys is a great step in this direction, of course, but all pups fall off the wagon sometimes. If you catch them with the remote in their mouth or chewing enthusiastically on a cushion, simple say ‘no’ in a firm tone of voice. Then remove the item from their mouth and replace it with a chew toy that is more suitable.
If you are firm when teaching your puppy this, they will soon learn that some items are off limits. Remember, your puppy needs to chew when they are teething—they are not simply misbehaving. So make sure you replace what they are chewing with something else.
Hide your personal belongings
When exploring the world, puppies naturally gravitate to anything that smells like you. After all, you are their best friend; you are the one thing they know for certain in this world. It is no wonder, then, that they want to explore your shoes, your socks, your phone—anything that has your scent on it!
Make sure you keep these items where they are not reachable. Put your shoes away in a shoe rack that closes so that your puppy cannot access a shoe and chew on it. If you have any personal items they particularly like to gnaw on, put them on high shelves that your puppy cannot reach. It is a simple but effective way to puppy proof a home—keep your pup away from temptation!
Puppy teething can also be a dangerous phase. Puppies do not always gravitate towards cushions or shoes; sometimes they want to chew power cables or swallow a button. While playing, pups can seriously harm themselves.
Creating a home that is safe for a puppy is much like planning a home safe for a child. Make sure there are child-locks on all the drawers (especially in the kitchen) so that your puppy cannot jump up and accidentally open them.
You can also buy dog gates. These gates are like baby gates—they are not very high but they keep your pup out of the dangerous areas or areas where they may cause a lot of damage. No one wants their pup eating through their collection of books or their work for the next day!
While puppy teething can be a potentially destructive phase in life, there are ways to make sure it does not ruin your house. The measures above will also make the process easier on your pup. They will know what is or is not off limits and they will be able to exercise their excess energy (and natural instincts) in a safe and soothing way. Once your puppy stops teething, you will have an intact home and a well-trained pup!
If you are looking for information around looking after a pup’s teeth make sure you check out our caring for your dog’s teeth article.