When they are teething, at between four and six months of age, puppies become especially destructive. This is the period when the milk or deciduous teeth are being shed, to be replaced by permanent adult teeth. During this stage there is a considerable increase in the number of teeth in the mouth, from 28 to 42.
You should provide suitable, safe chews, available from pet shops, to help your dog through this difficult period. You must anticipate some damage around the home at this stage, especially if you leave your pet on its own for any length of time. It is likely to be not just shoes or slippers which are chewed: the legs of a table or chair, a bed or other furniture are equally vulnerable. Take particular care not to leave live electrical flexes trailing in an exposed position or even behind a chair where the puppy could conceal itself. This could result in a fire flaring up, causing possible injury and, especially if you are out at the time, widespread damage.
It may be preferable to keep the puppy in a suitable pen while it is teething when you are away from home. This will restrict the possibility of damage being caused in your absence. Suitable designs which clip together are available especially from larger pet shops. Be sure to provide a comfortable bed, which can be a cardboard box with its sides cut down and lined with a blanket. Replace the box as necessary when it is chewed.
Encourage the puppy to recognize its own chews by handing them to it. At first the dog may only sniff at them but you should soon be able to encourage it to play with them. If not, simply leave them nearby, and the dog will probably pick them up in due course. You can buy chews which are impregnated with appealing flavors, such as ham. Although these odors are not discernible by the human nose, the highly developed scenting ability of the dog means that it can detect the flavor easily.
Try to keep as close a watch as possible on your puppy throughout the teething period. Then if you find it is starting to gnaw something which it shouldn’t you can direct its attention elsewhere. Do not scold the puppy, but simply and firmly say ‘no’ at this stage.
Another important lesson can be begun by this stage. The young dog must learn to give up items when told to do so without attempting to snap at you. The command ‘drop’ is often used here. At first you may have to prize open the jaws gently, but soon the puppy should learn to release the item without hesitation, if encouraged to do so by a display of affection afterwards. Again, it is vital to state your dominance right from the start. Even a playful nip is likely to be painful and may well lead to further displays of such aggression.
Dogs which seek to exert their authority are those which are liable to bite people. It is vital that you retain your dominance over your dog, and this dog shows clear signs of submissiveness.