It’s been almost ten years since we’ve raised a puppy. I had forgotten about the sleep deprivation from late-night potty breaks.
I also still have scars on the back of my legs from baby Autumn’s little needle-sharp puppy teeth. She was like a furry shark on legs!
When we brought little Lambo home this summer, I knew we had to be prepared with a ton of puppy toys and teethers. Still, I found myself reaching out to friends on Facebook for additional advice. Those puppy teeth get into everything and they are so unbelievably sharp.
Thankfully, we’ve done a much better job training Lambo so I haven’t gotten any new scars. Either I’ve gotten better at puppy raising and wrangling, or perhaps she’s not quite the hellhound that Autumn was as a little puppy!
If you are dealing with pandemic puppy teething too, here are the best tips I’ve found from friends and experts to help sooth the savage beastie and keep your fingers and house in one piece
Top tips for teething pups
- Cold and frozen toys. Puppies are constantly biting and chewing because, just like babies when they’re teething, their mouth really hurts. Frozen washcloths or toys that are meant to be frozen can be a really nice, cool and soothing break from the pain of teething. I like to take baby washcloths and wet them, tie them in a knot and then freeze. Lambo loves these! I also give her ice sometimes out on our back deck and she enjoys licking, chewing and crunching the cubes – as well as chasing them around.
- Licky mats and toys. Licking is a great way for teething puppies or anxious dogs to self-soothe. We bought Lambo a licky mat and if she seems extra annoying or is getting into everything and trying to chew it all to bits, I will spread peanut butter, apple sauce or canned pet food on the mat and then let her go to town licking. It really calms her down and our older dog, Dani, loves it too. You can also freeze the mat once it’s coated for an extra cool treat.
- Hold toys for them to chew. This might seem obvious, but I can’t remember ever doing it for Autumn – probably since I had a human toddler, too! Since dogs don’t have thumbs, it can be hard for them to hold a bone or chew toy just the way they want it. If you sit beside your puppy and hold their bone for them, they can adjust their mouth angle and chewing to better ease those aching gums. This is such a delight for Lambo and it’s my pleasure to do it for her. It’s nice bonding time for us!
- Different textures of toys. I’ve noticed that sometimes Lambo wants a hard chew toy or antler/bone, and other times she prefers chewing on a stuffed animal type toy. Chewing on an old knotted towel also seems to be pretty satisfying. In addition to different textures, we like to provide toys in different sizes. We found out with Lambo that she LOVES big stuffed animals her size or bigger. It really seems to soothe her – I think it must remind her of climbing and chewing on her mama in the litter box. It’s really sweet! Xage was only too happy to donate her big stuffed giraffe to the puppy cause.
- Switch out toys regularly. Variety is the spice of life – especially for teething puppies. Once a week or so, I gather up all Lambo’s toys and put them back in her toy bin so she has to dig for what she wants. In the process, she always rediscovers a toy she had forgotten about and ends up with a new favorite for the week. Just as with toddlers, rotating toys keeps them new and interesting.
- Lots of walks, running and exercise. I once heard a dog behavior expert say that unless your dog is getting 45 minutes to an hour of physical activity everyday, you can’t even begin to complain about behavior problems. We follow this rule and it definitely helps! Lambo gets walked in the morning, at midday if it’s not too hot, and then a longer walk at sunset when it’s a bit cooler. I know these walks are good for both me and the dogs, plus they certainly help wear her out and ensure she naps. I try to give her off-leash playing and running time during the day too, as much as possible.
- Mental and intellectual exercise. Lambo is a smart pup so she absolutely adores dog puzzles and toys where she has to figure out how to get a treat out. This can be as simple as putting peanut butter in a Kong chew toy. We also make our own by duct-taping a cardboard box closed with treats inside; this makes a bit of a mess (cardboard shreds everywhere) but the enjoyment she gets out of them is well worth a little vacuuming time afterward. You can also buy toys that dispense treats after dogs complete a certain action. And, we love going outside to play “hide and seek” with treats – either I’ll throw treats out into the grass, fall leaves or snow so the dogs have to sniff around and hunt for them, or I’ll hide treats around the yard before I let the dogs out. They love it!
- Mandatory naptime. All this activity, stimulation and enrichment is exhausting so I make sure Lambo has plenty of downtime in her crate or on the couch for naps, too. Naptime is when you get to appreciate how adorable your puppy is – and when their demeanor is the sweetest! Lambo’s morning and afternoon naps are some of my favorite hours of the day.
Do you have any other tips for teething puppies and their tired owners? I’d love to hear them in the comments below or over on Facebook!