Updated: Jan 30
Your young Lagotto puppy has an incredible need to chew. His or her young teeth have pushed through their gums and yet the adult teeth are already right behind them. Over the next few months they will want to work those teeth and that means chewing. At around 12 weeks, the puppy teeth begin to fall out, and the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Normally by 6 months of age, all permanent teeth have erupted, and all deciduous teeth have fallen out. You can start to understand with so much happening so quickly why your puppy can seem like they are all teeth!
What should I do about my puppy's chewing behaviors that I don't like?
Do not reward behavior you do not want, and do not let others reward it either. If your puppy is chewing on your hands or any other body part, withdraw or even yelp in a high pitched shriek like a puppy would, pull your hand away, and go elsewhere for a while.
Puppies are naturally energetic and curious - they are trying to learn about their world! Be sure that you are meeting their needs for physical and mental stimulation. Try directing that energy elsewhere by including lots of exercise, training, and feed from puzzle toys rather than a bowl. Do not leave items like clothes, shoes, or children’s toys where your puppy can reach them - they will not last long. Be sure to provide a large variety of safe chew toys. Rotate your chew toys by only having a few out at any one time. Supervise your puppy so he does not have the opportunity to chew something he shouldn’t. Even Chews like Bullies or Yak Cheese should not be left with your puppy unattended for long periods. While it is an extremely low occurance, everything can create a hazard. Some of these chew objects have caused gastrointestinal blockages or intestinal punctures, which may require surgery and can be life-threatening; others have blocked the throat, causing dogs to asphyxiate. Be sure that you are monitoring your puppy and their chews.
Chew toys are critically important and not optional when it comes to teething puppies gnawing on everything in sight. “Bully sticks” are the ultimate chew toy. It should be noted that bully stick is a marketing term for …dried pieces of bull penis. We might be uncomfortable with this, but these are the best of chews, loved by pretty much every dog. Other popular animal-derived chews, like antlers and bones, are too hard for puppies and can chip their teeth. I stay away from Rawhide because of how they are processed and prefer to go to my other top chew - dried Yak cheese made from the milk of YAK, a vegetarian all-natural chew. They’re made up solely of yak milk and were created as a digestible alternative to rawhide. Dogs love the flavor and the chewing challenge. Pop it in the microwave if you need to soften it. And after your puppy gnaws it down to just a small piece, you can soak that part in water and then microwave it for 45 seconds to transform it into a puffed-up treat with a crunchy texture.
Playing rough with a puppy, and tolerating the occasional scratch or gentle bite is never OK!
Permitting this behavior teaches your pet that your hand or other skin is an acceptable toy to use as a chew. Your dog is not only learning that it is okay, but the pup is even being rewarded for this behavior when you continue playing after being bitten or scratched. Never allow in a puppy what you will not want in a DOG!
There are other options out there that can help your pup satisfy the need to bite, some that are cloth and squeek, some that are extremely durable and hard. Some can be soaked and thrown in the freezer to provide a cold numbing effect while they work out their teeth. I encourage you to try many of these - see what works and as I said above, rotate them out so that there is something new to do and boredom doesnt set in. Kongs can be loaded with kibble and yogurt put in the freezer and given the next morning and there are countless puzzle trays that can be used to feed. This maintains your puppies interest and helps develop problem solving skills rather than gulping down a meal as quickly as possible.
Finally, this is a phase and not something you should expect to last beyond six months. The better you meet your puppies need, the easier it will pass. Be creative, and attentive to what works for you and your puppy.