When a puppy begins the teething process, the pain and discomfort can temporarily affect the pup's personality, habits and mood and cause the puppy to begin chewing and biting. Recognising the signs of teething, knowing how to deal with the issues it presents and understanding the process can help the owner remain patient with the sometimes unruly puppy.
A puppy's teething process lasts months. The puppy's first set of teeth will generally start to come in between two and three weeks. The length of time that the baby teeth remain depends on the breed of the dog. Between three and seven months, the puppy will shed baby teeth as the adult teeth gradually erupt. Most puppies will have a full set of adult teeth by the time they are seven months old.
During teething, the puppy's mouth may be very sensitive. Puppies will chew or bite as a way to relieve pressure and pain rather than as a result of poor training or bad behaviour. Puppies' gums may be sore and swollen, and even bleed lightly at times. Abundant drooling that is not a breed characteristic can also be a sign of teething. The puppy may seem reluctant to eat hard dog food when the pain is particularly bad.
Destructive behaviours such as chewing and biting, while initially a response to pain by the puppy, may turn into bad habits if not curbed. The puppy is relieving the pain and pressure of teething by chewing, so rather than try to completely stop it, teach the puppy what toys are acceptable to chew on and what items, such as shoes and clothing, aren't. Remove items from the puppy's reach that should not be chewed on and offer the puppy suitable toys.
Cold or frozen treats and chew toys can help ease the puppy's teething pain. Offer the puppy ice cubes or frozen dog treats as a snack. Soak plush squeaky toys with water and freeze before giving it to the puppy to play with. Teething rings for babies can be used for puppies as well. A fingertip toothbrush, designed for dogs can be used to gently massage the puppy's inflamed gums.