How To Handle Puppy Teething | PetFirst
How To Handle Puppy Teething
Pet Care & Health

How To Handle Puppy Teething

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
8 months ago

Have you recently added a new dog to the family? Have you come home to find shoes, pillows, clothing, or furniture chewed to bits? If your dog is 1-year-old or younger, there is a good chance he is chewing because he is experiencing pain from teeth that are still growing in.  

Teething timeline

Puppy teeth begin to appear between two and four weeks old with prime puppy teething beginning when your pup is three to four months old. At this time, the adult teeth come in and replace the puppy teeth. 

“It can go, on average, up until the puppy is between six and eight months of age,” Jennifer Coates, a Veterinarian in Fort Collins, Colorado, said6.   “There have been cases of dogs who teethe longer than eight months.”

Teething and social development

Teething can be a trying time for many pet parents, particularly when a favorite pair of shoes or expensive furniture becomes a casualty of your pup’s new, sharp teeth.  Keep in mind that teething is an essential time for your puppy’s social development. 

In addition to relieving pain and easing boredom, chewing, and mouthing are how your pup begins to explore his environment and interact with the world around him.


Most means to soothe the discomfort of teething involve chewing.  During the teething stage, chewing helps to alleviate the pain and calm the pup down.  The best thing you can do for him at this stage is to provide him with safe items to chew on and a lot of patience.

Your first tool in preparation for teething is to buy a few good quality chew toys. Most pet stores carry a wide selection of chew toys.  While you don’t need to buy out the entire store, it’s best to have a few different textures and shapes, including a hard chew toy, a soft chew toy, and an edible chew toy, such as a safe bone. You can then offer your furry friend different options, keeping in mind that his teething preferences may change.

You will also help prevent chewing on inappropriate items by providing your dog with safe, chew-able dog toys that are intended for teething.  Make sure you only give toys that are intended for teething puppies and never give human teething toys to a puppy.

Use teething time productively

Your teething pup is going to chew – there is no way around it.  So why not use this as an opportunity to begin his training? First, protect furniture, shoes, and other valuables, including your hands, by getting them off the ground and out of paw’s reach.  From the beginning, set boundaries when it comes to chewing.

Here is a simple and effective method to teach appropriate chewing:

As soon as you catch your dog in the act of chewing something that is not acceptable (an item of yours, furniture, shoes), say “no,” and immediately replace it with an acceptable chewing object.  Repeat this practice as often and as early as possible.

If you have plenty of safe, appropriate, chew toys around, you lower the chances of your pup sinking his teeth into your favorite Italian leather boots.

Provide physical and mental stimulation

Many young dogs nip because they are bored and want to get your attention.  This behavior is best discouraged right away.  As a new pet parent, it is your responsibility to provide physical exercise and mental stimulation for your pup.

While this might not eliminate mouthy behavior, it will help discourage it.

Soft-mouth training

Some people opt to enroll their dogs in puppy training classes. You will still need to train and reinforce certain basic concepts at home though, such as soft-mouth.

Soft-mouth training can be done using a treat: 

  1. Show the treat to your pup (but do not give it to him). 
  2. Close your hand to form a fist around the treat.
  3. If he comes up to lick your closed hand or gently puts pressure on your hand, but does not bite, reward him by giving him the treat.
  4. If he bites you or breaks the skin, walk away for 15 seconds.
  5. After 15 seconds, come back and re-engage.
  6. Repeat.

With continued practice, your puppy will learn to control his bite.  You can also use a signal word like “gentle.”

Teething remedy

Most dogs handle this rite of passage without significant difficulty, but teething is painful.  Offering chew toys to your pup can commonly help with this pain. Additionally, giving your dog ice cubes  can help soothe his irritated gums too.  

If your pup is having a rough time, try the following “washcloth remedy.”

  1. Take a washcloth or dish towel.
  2. Run it under cold tap water, twist it, and stick it in the freezer.
  3. Once it has frozen, give it to the puppy to chew on.
  4. Repeat with another washcloth.

Make sure to supervise your puppy whenever he is chewing on anything.  Some dogs will go on to eat items they are chewing on. Objects can end up stuck in your dog’s digestive tract, causing a bowel blockage or worse.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.

6Puppy Teething: Symptoms, Solutions and When to Call Your Vet

10Common Dog Behavior Problems and How To End Them, By Lauren Lee Updated Oct. 22, 2019.

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