Puppy Teeth Development and the Puppy Teething Stage
All puppies go through a teething stage, usually spanning from around 3 weeks, when your puppy receives his first set of baby teeth, to about 6 months of age, when the adult teeth emerge from below the first set, in a similar fashion to our teeth. Smaller dogs’ teeth mature a little slower, so you may see them experience an even longer period of intense teething.
Don’t be alarmed! As your puppy’s baby teeth are pushed up by their adult teeth below, you may find these teeth lying around the house. It’s perfectly normal.
If you don't find any teeth, that's OK too. Puppies often harmlessly swallow their baby teeth, because puppies will eat just about anything! You may also find these teeth in their stool. Either way, no harm will come from your pup eating those loosened teeth.
For more information about how and why your puppy teethes, check out this article When do Dogs Stop Teething?
No Biting Allowed
At any point during the teething process, you may find that your dog is chewing more intensely and even chewing things that they normally wouldn’t. In particular, this can be a time when puppies will try to chew on fingers or toes. Before your puppy learns their manners, puppies consider everything a toy. This isn't a sign of aggression, but how they explore the world and sooth those tender gums.
It is important that you do not allow your puppy to chew on your fingers, toes, or any other body part of yours at this time. The puppy stage is when many bad habits are formed and these habits can be much more difficult to correct later in your dog’s life. When your puppy tries to take a nibble of your fingers, offer a toy, chew or treat in replacement.
The best method is to have toys available before you start playtime. Being proactive is always better than being reactive.
Before you brought your new puppy home, the bulk of their training came from their mom, their litter mates, or other animals that they may have been housed with. The best way to start off any of your puppy training is to treat them the way another dog would. When they bite - yelp. This is how puppies say ouch! It's also how their brothers and sisters told them that they were playing too rough.
It seems a bit silly, but it will get their attention and help them understand their boundaries quicker. Yelps should be quick and high pitched, like a puppy. This is especially important with children because your puppy will not see your kids as the leader of the pack, they will treat them like their litter mates.
Teething Puppies Need to Chew
You can’t simply get your puppy to stop teething or chewing on things. Chewing is a normal dog behaviour, to clean teeth and maintain dental health, and to exercise jaws to keep muscles strong. Dogs chew for a variety of reasons: to alleviate boredom, to entertain, to soothe anxiety, and to relieve teething pain.
Puppies will also chew just to explore the world around them. Since they can’t grasp objects in their hands the way you do, they understand their world by smelling, tasting, and chewing instead. Your teething puppy’s intense chewing is likely in response to the pain of new teeth coming in.
Picking the Best Puppy Chew Toys
Rather than stopping your puppy from chewing altogether, you need to teach your puppy what is acceptable for them to chew and what is not. The best way to ensure your teether doesn’t chew up the couch (or something else) is to provide a variety of quality chew toys for your new puppy.
Puppies have chewing preferences and you will likely need to supply your puppy with a selection of toys of different sizes, materials, and features to find the best matches for your particular dog.
If you are already dealing with a chewing problem, try to pick a toy that has similar textures to the object that your puppy is chewing up. Avoid things that look the same to avoid confusing your pup. If your pup is chewing on shoes, try a canvas or leather dog toy. If it's clothes that your puppy is enticed by, then any number of plush toys will suffice.
For puppies that like harder materials, like furniture or plastic, then a nylon or rubber toy may help.
The Best Chew Toys for Teething Puppies
While every dog is different, there are still some toys out there that seem to be almost universally adored by puppies. These top teething toys for puppies are well-made and designed, and are some of our most popular choices for puppy owners.
DISCLAIMER: No toy is truly unbreakable when it comes to a puppy or dog that has the will to destroy it. That being said, these toys are some of the best chew toys that are available, and should stand up to most teething puppies and dogs under normal use.
If you have a really tough chewer, try the toys from our blog Toughest Dog Toys for Extreme Chewers instead.
1. Kong Binkie
When it comes to chew toys, Kong is a universally recognized brand. Their durable toys stand up to most chewers, and their toys come in interesting and engaging shapes that dogs just seem to gravitate to.
Aside from being absolutely adorable with its pacifier shape, the Kong Binkie is made of a durable, high-quality rubber construction. The Kong Binkie is softer and has a bit more resistance than standard Kong chew toys for dogs.
It is the perfect blend of tough and tender – this soother will alleviate your puppy’s sore gums and satisfy their need to chew. It also has an irregular shape that will bounce erratically, much to the delight of your puppy. Like most Kong toys, it can also be stuffed with treats or chews.
2. Nylabone Puppy Teething Pacifier
Here’s the second soother to make our list - the Nylabone Puppy Teething Pacifier. Other than just being cute, this toy is textured, making it the perfect choice for soothing teething pain.
The nubs help to clean teeth and gums and remove bacteria that settle sat the gumline. The two pacifiers move freely on the ring, so it makes for a fun toy that flops around when your puppy shakes it. Check out Nylabone Puppy Teething Keys too. They are a similar product with a slightly different shape and mouth feel.
The only downside to this toy is that it is recommended only for dogs under 15lbs so it may not be the best choice for medium or large breed puppies.
3. Flossy Chews Ropes
4. Beco Pets Hoop
The Beco Pets Hoop is made of all-natural rice-husk rubber and is our most environmentally friendly choice on this list. Made using an eco-sustainable production process and comprised of green materials, the Beco Pets toys are an option that both you and your puppy can feel great about.
5. JW iSqueak Rubber Ball
Balls are an excellent toy for puppies, and they’re the type of toy that adult dogs can still be engaged with. The problem is getting a toy to last that long.
While not technically a chew toy, the iSqueak Rubber Ball should be able to hold up to a game of fetch and anything else your dog wants to do with it. The JW iSqueak is made of durable rubber – virtually indestructible, as the company claims. This rubber ball should even last through the teething stage, the real test for any toy’s durability.
As if your puppy needed any more reasons to love it this toy, all of the JW iSqueak toys come with an internal squeaker. It also comes in multiple sizes to suit any size dog or puppy!
JW makes balls in a variety of shapes to suit your dog's size and play style. Try out the Good Cuz, Spiky Cuz, or Muscles Cuz for different textures too.
6. Kong Squeezz Dog
As a brand, Kong works durable and practical play into every one of their toys. The Kong Squeezz is no exception. In addition to the top brand name it is sporting, Kong Squeezz is a sturdy chew toy that includes a squeaker for even more enjoyment.
The flexible material means your puppy will love chewing away at it and it will feel softer on his tender gums, than the Kong Classic or Extreme. The toy is also a non-toxic rubber and comes in four bright colours.
There are multiple toys in the Kong Squeezz line, and all come in fun shapes that any puppy would love. We love the sparkly Squeezz Confetti line.
7. Planet Dog Tuff Carrot
Take a look at this fruity twist on the classic stuffable toy. Besides the cute shape, the Planet Dog Tuff Carrot comes with a small hole that you can stuff with small treats or kibble, adding even more long-lasting enjoyment for your puppy or dog. This toy is suited for small dogs to medium dog, but larger breeds can still play with this while supervised.
Check out the full line of Planet Dog toys for options for larger puppies and dogs, or browse the other cute styles for small dogs – there’s a strawberry, artichoke, and eggplant to name a few!
8. Chuck It! Erratic Ball
This oddly shaped ball will keep your puppy playing and guessing. The squared corners cause the ball to bounce in unexpected directions. Unlike other balls, the erratic ball is solid rubber to allow your pup to very very rough with this toy.
The pliable rubber is gentle on their gums to help them through the teething phase. It's available in two sizes to accommodate your dog's size and chew styles.
For fetch, the erratic ball also fits into the corresponding sized launcher. These balls are a bit heavier so they are not ideal for catching, but rather bouncing, so use your launcher to bounce the ball on the ground and watch your dog frantically try to chase it down.
9. West Paw Boz
This multi-purpose toy is ideal for safe and exciting games of fetch. Available in two sizes, the Boz is light enough for younger puppies to pick up and bouncy enough to encourage more enthusiastic play.
The texture of the Boz allows your dog to bite down and compress the ball without puncturing it. The unique Zogoflex material is injected with air to provide a lighter more satisfying squish. These balls are so durable that West Paw stands behind this product with their "Love It Guarantee."
Zogoflex products are also dishwasher safe so you can reduce the chance of harmful bacteria from entering your puppies sensitive system.
No toy is indestructible and these toys are not safe to be consumed. Always monitor your puppy with any kind of chew toy, no matter how "tough" it is. Those sharp little teeth can do a lot of damage and letting them eat even small pieces can cause digestive upsets or worse.
When you see your puppy chewing pieces of the toy off or if the toy breaks in anyway, remove the toy and replace it immediately.
Always choose toys that are appropriately sized for your pup too. Smaller toys make seem like a better option for puppies, but if they can fit the whole toy in their mouths, then it is likely a choking hazard if they get a little too ambitious about their chew session.
Cleanliness can also play a factor in toy safety. Some toys can get dirty quick, especially toys that go outside. Many rubber or nylon toys are easy to clean with warm water and for exceptionally dirty toys, try a 5% vinegar and water solution to help sanitize the toy.
Alternatively, look for toys that are dishwasher safe. This keeps bacteria out of your pups mouths and will keep the toy safer for longer.
What's your puppies favourite chew toy? Let us know in the comments below.
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.