Puppy Teething 101 - Mastiff
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Puppy Teething 101: Top 10 Tips For Large Breed Puppies

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Teething Puppy Or Land Shark?

Puppy teething is one of those stages that ALL puppies go through.  Puppy teething lasts from about 5-6 weeks of age when all the baby teeth have erupted until about 6-7 months when the permanent teeth take their place.

During this time, their gums swell as baby teeth get pushed out by bigger permanent teeth.  And, as a consequence, you will likely be dealing with puppy biting and puppy chewing as your teething puppy seeks relief from the pain.

Because puppies don’t speak HUMAN, and we don’t speak LAND SHARK, there is a natural disconnect between you and your new large breed puppy.

In addition to saving money on Band-Aids, your goal over the next few months should be to close that gap while building a loving, symbiotic relationship with your rapidly growing puppy.

The following are 5 ESSENTIAL TIPS and 5 MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS that will help preserve your sanity, and your fingers, during this trying, puppy teething time.

And when you are ready, read Mastiff Puppy 101: Wild Puppy to Gentle Giant, Guaranteed! for everything else you will need to raise your large or giant breed puppy!

Because puppies don’t speak HUMAN, and we don’t speak LAND SHARK, there is a natural disconnect between you and your new large breed puppy.  Click to Tweet

This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation.  There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links. 


Puppy Teething Age

If you landed on this page, the likelihood is that you are asking these questions: When do puppies start teething? When do puppies stop teething? And when do puppies stop biting so much?

Puppy teeth start to come in around weeks 2 – 4 and finish around 5-6 weeks. From this period until about 6 months old and when all 42 adult teeth are in, your puppy will be teething.

At approximately 12 weeks of age, your puppy will start to lose his first baby teeth.  Expect them to fall out periodically and consistently for the next few months until all of the adult teeth are in.

Before we move on to the puppy teething survival tips, I want to address one more thing as it relates to the age at which puppies start teething.

In Puppy Fear Periods: The 5 Things that Can Save Your Puppy! I discuss why I DO NOT recommend bringing a puppy home between the ages of 8 weeks – 10 weeks.  Allowing a puppy to remain with his dam and siblings during this very sensitive fear period is critical to optimal development.

Not surprisingly, the added benefit of a puppy remaining with a breeder longer is that all day, every day, your new puppy will be learning from his dam and siblings how much mouth pressure hurts when they bite.

Your puppy will learn that nipping and biting hurt and to be careful when opening and closing his mouth on something (or someone).  This is a lesson best taught by a dog since they are all speaking the same language.

[READ: Best Guide to Classical vs Operant Conditioning for Dog Owners [Simple]]

A puppy needs to learn that nipping and biting hurt and to be careful when opening and closing his mouth on something (or someone). This is a lesson best taught by a dog since they are all speaking the same language.   Click to Tweet

Puppy Teething Symptoms

Many of the following symptoms of puppy teething will come as no surprise.  However, it is best to be armed with the information before you get your puppy.

The most common signs and symptoms of puppy teething are:

  • Bleeding or Swollen Gums
  • Not Eating or Poor Appetite
  • Chewing (on Everything)
  • Drooling Excessively
  • Missing Teeth

Do not be surprised to find blood on toys or bones or to find shed teeth around your house.  Equally probable is not being able to locate puppy teeth after they’ve fallen out.

These are all very normal stages of puppy teething and development.  No need to worry or freak out!

That said, I do recommend monitoring your puppy’s mouth and alerting your veterinarian if anything seems abnormal or concerning to you.  Since your puppy should be seeing a veterinarian regularly during this period, it is your responsibility to make your new puppy’s dental health a priority.

Dental health aside, because your goal during this period is to minimize how many fingers and furniture fall victim to your little land shark, let’s proceed with the puppy teething survival guide!

5 Tips For Surviving Puppy Teething

1. Do NOT Punish Puppy Biting!

The word “punish” is used in a broad sense.

Puppy teething 101

Punishment here can include any form of hitting, slapping, yelling “Bad Puppy,” or otherwise applying punitive methods against a biting puppy.

I have heard trainers recommend holding the puppy’s mouth closed while yelling “NO” as a way to stop a puppy from biting.

This is not only cruel, but it is actually reinforcing the very behavior the so-called trainer is trying to inhibit.

In modern dog training, an aversive method like this is considered a positive punishment.

[READ: Best Guide to Classical vs Operant Conditioning for Dog Owners [Simple]]

Positive punishment is when you add a response (holding the puppy’s mouth closed) to decrease the likelihood that the behavior (puppy biting) will occur less often.

The only people who think this is an effective method to teach a puppy not to bite are those who yell at their kids to stop yelling.

Worst of all, puppies do not pair their biting with your punishment.  They pair your punishment with YOU, or your kids, or your friendly neighbors.

Puppies do not pair their biting with your punishment.  They pair your punishment with YOU, or your kids, or your friendly neighbors. Click to Tweet

2. DO Ignore Puppy Biting

Ignoring is considered a negative punishment.

A negative punishment reduces behaviors (biting) by taking away or withholding something good (YOU).

This really is a critical point that bears repeating.

Remember, YOU are the one your puppy wants.  YOU are the center of his new universe.

This is why ignoring your teething puppy when he bites can be so powerful.  It sends a non-verbal, non-physical message to the puppy that when he bites, YOU (his most favorite person in the whole world) leave or stop playing with him.

Ignoring your teething puppy works.  It sends a non-verbal, non-physical message to the puppy that when he bites, YOU (his most favorite person in the whole world) leave or stop playing with him. Click to Tweet

3. DO Reinforce Better, Incompatible Behaviors.

This is my absolute favorite technique for all sorts of unwanted behaviors; barking, biting, begging at the table.  That last one is particularly key when you have a dog who can rest his head on your table while slobbering over your steak.

With this one, you do have to be a little careful.

I have heard new owners say “oh when my puppy bites I just hand him a toy and tell him to chew that instead.”  While this is close, unfortunately, handing over a toy just after biting is reinforcing the unwanted behavior of biting by rewarding it.

The key is timing.  Here is a quote from one of my favorite positive trainers, Pamela Dennison, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant in her book, You Can Train Your Dog:

“My rule of thumb is this: if the dog does something great, reinforce within one-half to one second of the behavior.  If the dog does something less than desirable, wait for a full five to ten seconds after he stops doing the unwanted behavior, redirect to a better one, and then reinforce.”

With a puppy that is biting, try this method for teaching an incompatible behavior:

  1. Puppy bites,
  2. You withhold attention (stand up, walk away, turn around so the puppy is at your back).
  3. After a full five to ten seconds, hand your puppy a safe chew or toy, and then
  4. Praise your puppy for chewing his things.

4. DO Prepare BEFORE You Bring Your Puppy Home.

I am always perplexed when new puppy owners act surprised that their puppy is biting.

All puppies bite.  Some more than others.  But they all do it.  As I stated earlier, it is a phase that all puppies go through.

It is best to have a plan BEFORE you bring your new puppy home on how you are going to handle this phase.

Ensure that your entire family, kids included, are in agreement with exactly how you want to train your puppy during this stage.  This consistency will be key to ensure the puppy doesn’t get mixed messages causing confusion.

Here are a few of my absolute favorite books for new dog owners.  I highly recommend you get, at the very least, The Puppy Primer BEFORE you bring your new puppy home.  From puppy teething and potty-training to beginner obedience and fun games for puppies, The Puppy Primer should be in every big dog owner’s library.

And for more information on training your puppy, read:

5. DO Have Patience With Your Teething Puppy.

Remember your puppy is just a baby.  If you have ever watched two puppies or two grown dogs play, they bite.

I often compare my two mastiffs to walruses; mouths open, biting necks, head butting, and all-out body blows are commonplace and just a part of the way dogs play.

When puppies are young, they need to learn that you are not another puppy.  (Remember what I said earlier about waiting to pick your puppy up until after 10 weeks old?)

Teething Puppy Pin 1

That association takes time.  What often delays the timing of that correct association is the fact that the puppy is teething and in pain.

During the teething stage, puppies are intrinsically rewarded every time they bite, whether it’s your pants leg or his toy, because it soothes their gums.

The way you can combat against this inadvertent, yet constant, reinforcer is to make sure you have plenty of appropriate items on hand to which you can redirect your puppy.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for appropriate puppy teething toys, chews and products that will help you through this trying, teething time.

It is important that you ensure both the size and quality of the product will stand up to the more aggressive chewing of a large breed or giant breed puppy.

5 Must-Have Products For Puppy Teething

1.Kong

For giant breed puppies (Great Danes, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds) I would go straight to the XL Black Kong.

For large breed puppies (Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, Pointers), you could get away with starting out with a smaller one.

Consider buying two so that you always have one filled in the freezer ready to go.

In addition to providing wonderful mental stimulation, a frozen Kong serves to not only provide relief to your teething puppy’s aching gums, but it also prolongs how long he is occupied while licking it out.

My go-to Kong- filler is peanut butter, but you can fill them with just about anything that is safe for dogs to eat; yogurt, bananas, apples, carrots, pumpkin, cheerios, biscuits.  Get out your Vitamix and go to town!

During the teething stage, puppies are intrinsically rewarded every time they bite, whether it’s your pants leg or his toy, because it soothes their gums.  Click to Tweet

2.Elk Antler

I prefer Buck Bone Organic brand, but there are others. I still have the antlers I bought when Sulley was a baby, almost three years ago.  They can be pricey to purchase, but they last forever and are totally worth the money!

3. Tug Toys, Balls, & Other Fun Stuff

Honestly, I could feed a small village in Africa on how much money I have spent on stuffed animal toys for my dogs over the years.

Suffice it to say, heed my warning and save your money.  Stuffed animal toys, while adorable, are generally not a great choice for a teething puppy.  Unless, of course, your objective is to see how far you can expand your squeaker graveyard.

Here are a few more prudent puppy teething toys for large breed dogs:

And for a more extensive list of big dog appropriate toys, read Top 10 Best Toys for Big Dogs: Battle-Tested and Big Dog Approved.

4Bully Sticks

Bully sticks can be found in many places, though I usually buy the ones at Costco.

Keep in mind bully sticks, while delicious, are very high in protein.

They should only be an occasional treat so as to not throw off the nutritional balance of your rapidly growing puppy. [READ: Feeding Giant Breed Puppies for Dummies – The Protein Myth & More]

One word of caution is that I do not let my dogs consume bully sticks.  I am vigilant when my dogs chew them and I take them away before they pose a choking hazard.

5. Play Yard

Teething Sulley in Play Yard
© 2019 Big Dog Mom, LLC

If you have been to any dog show, you have seen these play yards, also referred to as x-pens. 

Junior was my first puppy raised in one and I honestly don’t know how I survived puppyhood with my other dogs without it.

I set up my play yard in the center of our main living area between our kitchen and family room so that Junior would always be right in the center of all of the action in the house.

Because his crate is the size of a studio apartment, moving it around the house was just not feasible.

The play yard enabled me to confine Junior without having to move his crate out of my bedroom.  In A Bomb Proof Big Dog Starts With Puppy Socialization [Today!], I list 50 examples of socialization activities that you can and should do with your new puppy during the critical window between 8-16 weeks.

The play yard facilitated numerous exposures that would not have been possible had Junior been confined in his crate in the bedroom.

However, with as great as these are, please keep in mind that your puppy should NEVER be left unattended in a play yard.  This includes when you leave the house for work or other reasons or at bedtime.  He should be crated anytime you are not home or not awake and able to watch him.

Summary

Puppy Teething

So, now it is your turn.  What tips or advice would you add to this list to survive the puppy teething stage?  What are some of the products that have helped you survive a teething puppy (a.k.a. the dreaded sharp-tooth land shark) in your home?

I would love to hear from you!  Leave me a comment below.

Resources

A Timeline of Puppy Teething

Something to Chew On

Pamela Dennison, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant

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65 Comments

  1. No. 2 should read “compatible” behaviors not “incompatible”

    1. Hi Tamera – Thank you for your comment. Here is what I mean by “incompatible.” I mean that whatever you are trying to divert the puppy’s attention to, that behavior/toy is “incompatible” with his biting. In other words, the puppy can’t bite and do this too. Does that make sense? I am not a trainer, but this made sense to me when I wrote it. Let me know if this explanation helps.

  2. There is some common sense advice here that is often easy to forget, especially if you haven’t had a puppy for a while.

    I can’t imagine anyone losing patience with a puppy while it’s teething but I bet they do!

    1. Thank you so much, Dash. Unfortunately, I think there are many people who lose their patience with puppies.

  3. Oh yes, the puppy teething stage! “Land shark” love it Lol!
    I agree that by ignoring your puppy/dog that is actually the worst for them! They want to be with you, you are the centre of their universe and not to have your attention is the worst for them. I think offering up items for them to chew and sooth their gums during this stage is so important.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! Land shark was the best description I could come up with. It seemed an accurate description of so many puppies during this teething stage. 🙂

  4. I never had a dog with biting/teething issues however I did have a cat with biting issues once. You give great tips and alternatives to help. I can see these would be very helpful for pet parents.

    1. Wow! A cat with biting issues does not sound fun at all. Those are some very sharp teeth. I have been fairly lucky, too, Kamira. My puppies have been more destructive than biters during this stage. But either way, having chews and toys on hand is critical for all puppies; biters or not.

  5. We have a 4 months old puppy and she is absolutely the little shark! We’ve all developed some serious ninja moves to avoid her snapping jaws! 😀 Your tips are really great! I love that you highlight the importance of not punishing biting! She is our 4th puppy and so far a positive approach has never failed us! 🙂

    1. That’s awesome, Luna! I’m so happy for you and your new little puppy and the positive approach you have taken with your dogs’ training! I also love the visual of “ninja moves!” Too funny!

  6. This is such a useful post for any puppy owner. Puppies will chew anything & everything. I like how you paired tips on chewing with products that offer productive and appropriate chewing alternatives. Perfect.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Thank you so much, Cathy! I truly hope this brings hope and answers to all those flustered new puppy owners who are in the thick of teething right now.

  7. These are such great tips! I love how you dove deeper into positive reinforcement. You’re right, some people don’t do it well, even when they have the best of intentions. Great advice for new puppy owners.

  8. I’d forgotten how much kittens chewed and bit when I brought Truffle home. I though I’d kitten-proofed the house, but it was amazing the places she could get into. I even had to put my power cords for the computers into a trashcan to keep her from chewing. Luckily, the girls weren’t biters.

    1. Haha! Yes, too funny! Little ones are everywhere and into everything it seems. They certainly keep us on our toes.

  9. Thank you for the helpful information. I have been considering getting a puppy and hadn’t thought of making a designated play area in the house. The antler seems like a great chewing diversion. Really appreciate that you had other product information too. It is nice to know what has worked for others.

    1. Thank you, Theresa! I never had a play yard for any of my other puppies, but it sure did make life easier with Junior. Good luck with your new puppy! I would love to see pictures if/when you get him/her!

  10. Thank you so much, Bettina! I couldn’t agree more! That cute little puppy won’t be so cute when he’s grown and still biting.

  11. What saved my skin (literally) when Jasmine was teething, was wearing a piece of rope around my waist. That way I always had something on me to offer her something appropriate to chew on.

  12. I have two big dogs, one of which is a mastiff mix so I definitely have experience with positive training. My boys were rescued as puppies and with small children around, training puppies to teeth on appropriate items was a priority. Great suggestions.

    1. Thank you so much, Heather! I couldn’t agree more. I have two small kids too and I am training them as much as I am training the dogs most days.

  13. I’ve never had a puppy, so I never had to go through the teething stage. This sounds like great advice for puppy parents to follow.

  14. The frozen kong had been a staple in our house long past the puppy years, and he always reminds us to fill it ha. Great post with a lot of helpful tips

    1. Thank you, Ashley! I agree. I have one in my freezer now and Junior is 9 months old. Every time the freezer opens Junior and Sulley come running.

  15. Ah, the biting stage, I remember it well! We raised three Husky puppies (littermates) and that was a fun, crazy, wild experience! Plus, I had a two already at home ( a one and two-year-old)! Lots of exciting days and three times the puppy teething! They are now 9, but reading this reminded me of those days of sharp shark teeth! Thankfully, it was not for long. You share great tips here (Pinning to my Bark About board to share)! A frozen Kong (well, 3) with natural creamy peanut butter was our go-to item along with chew toys.

    1. Oh, boy, I can only imagine how full your hands were when your huskies were young! You are right, the blessing is that this stage does not last forever. But it is a great opportunity for positive training and relationship building with a new puppy.

  16. Great advice on such an important topic! Teething is painful for both the dog and owner. LOL. Kongs are great!

  17. Great tips. It’s been a while since I’ve had a teething puppy. I always yell “ouch” when a puppy bites me so they learn mouth control, like what their mothers taught them. It did seem to work. Having lots of toys around is critical.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! I have tried the yelping before, but I have found puppies care about my pain to varying degrees. Ignoring and redirecting have been more effective for me, especially for puppies like Junior who just aren’t overly concerned that momma’s hurt. Haha!

  18. Joely Smith says:

    Great advice here! Teething was bad for my Granddog Link – I wish I had your tips before he was through it. We did the frozen treat idea though and it helped A LOT! Next time we have a puppy I will use more of these great helpful ideas for teething pups!

    1. Awww, thank you so much, Joely! Yes, I still do the frozen Kong when I leave as a special treat. They love it!!

  19. We had a play yard for our babes AND our puppies! ? Your Mastiff puppies in this post ate AFORABLE! I love the wrinkles ?

    1. Thank you so much, Shayla! I never had this play yard with my babies… but it definitely would have come in handy! 🙂

  20. I love the idea of having a pen in the middle of the living area so the puppy can still see everything going on and feel like a part of the family.

    1. It really is wonderful! In fact we are puppy sitting a 4 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy for the weekend and I set the play yard up to separate him during meal time. Make my life so much easier.

  21. These are excellent tips and ideas! I completely agree with #5 in both sections. Whenever you are training your dog, it’s so important to pair that training with exercise, socialization and patience.

  22. This is great advice. Puppies are cute, but their teeth (even tiny dogs) are so sharp! I loved raising puppies, but the last time we added a dog to the family, we chose to adopt a 4-year-old dog. It was fantastic to not go through the teething phase. He only chews his toys and can tell the difference between a plush toy for him, and one of the kids.

    1. Thank you, Lora! I’m so happy for you and your sweet 4 year old. Yes, you would hope they would be through the biting stage by that time.

  23. Amazing article with great advice. I know this is really about teething … but I’ve incorporated several of these ideas on a hunch. Bear Cat is a biter – and he bites HARD. I don’t think he ever learned the difference between a “I’m biting your hand off” bite and a play or love bite. When I ignore the bite, he first gets mad and really bites down … but if I don’t react, he’ll usually let go. As much as he took to chasing the flashlight and laser pointer in the beginning – he really likes to sink his teeth and claws into his toys when he plays. Just by switching to toys he can bite and claw, he’s needed to bite me less. Another thing I’ve learned?!? When Bear’s bored, he’ll act out all over the place – including biting. Thank you for linking up to the Showcase!

    1. Thank you so much! Wow, Bear Cat is definitely trying to tell you something I think. Giving him toys or the laser to distract or divert his attention make sense to me as a way to stop his biting. I will say, I think you might have it worse though – cats have very sharp teeth!!

  24. Great article. I have several friends who have “big dog” puppies and they never knew about the teething issues. They loved this post. As the purrrsonal assistant of five felines, my knowledge of canines sometimes is lacking and I love reading posts like this so I can learn something new.

    1. Thank you so much, Anita! I’m like you, I just love learning about all animals, not just the ones I live with. 🙂

  25. Great tips! I never thought too much about the timing of redirecting them to a toy, so that is really great advice. I also like the play yard idea, which we never used before. We also had big crates that were hard to move around, so that is really a perfect alternative.

    1. Thank you, Jan! Yes, the timing definitely matters when it comes to the message we are sending our dog. There is a fine line between being a reward for biting and an alternative to it.

  26. Erin the CAT, PRINCESS says:

    Heck there is so much to think about for a puppy, I never realised. I Like the positive reinforcement rather than shouting. Shouting which never works with me so why do people expect it to work for a puppy?
    A great post and most informative for a feline owner who has never had to put up with such matters…
    Toodle pip
    ERin

  27. These are some great tips. I hate to say it, but with Sampson we did cover his nose, although I never held his mouth shut. But would put my hand on his nose and tell him, “No bite.” (We didn’t have a ‘true’ positive trainer.) 🙁

    We did survive the puppy stage with a Kong and a crate, he also had lots of toys and truthfully, he had to be one of the easiest puppies ever. (Otherwise, there never would have been a Delilah.) 🙂

    I would add to your post, (because some people really do need it spelled out), that leaving your dog with an antler or bully stick could be a very bad thing. Delilah would chew that antler to the point that she could swallow it, so those definitely have to be supervised and limited. Both my dogs still love their Kong, so that is their nightly treat. (They like it stuffed with pineapple and frosted with applesauce or pumpkin).

    Thanks for adding this great post to the linky party!

    1. Thank you, Jodi! I didn’t even think about that! I will edit that post to ensure that caution is in there. I never leave my dogs unattended with any bone, antler or otherwise. Such a great point, thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for the feature! Puppy teeth do hurt, which is why most puppy owners are literally crying out for some tips on how to get through such a trying puppy stage. I am so happy this post was helpful!

  28. Pingback: Pet Blogger Showcase October 21, 2017 -
  29. Great info. I have adopted adults for my 2 present dogs, but she me of these tips would be good for adults or foster puppies.

  30. I also use to wet a wash cloth, squeeze it out a bit so it wasn’t dripping, tie it in a knot and freeze it. Tucker loved gnawing on it and I like to believe it gave him some relief.

    1. I bet that did help, Kara. My only concern with using a rag is the possibility of the dog swallowing pieces of it as it thaws. My guess is you supervised Tucker so it didn’t get to that point.

  31. I appreciated your article, I have a 5.5 month old female Newfoundland and she is teething like crazy. I however feel like I need to say when I asked my vet about harder things like bully sticks and bones for my girl to chew on I was told absolutely nothing that I couldn’t make a dent in with my thumbnail other wise is could easily break her baby tooth and that could require surgery.

    1. Hi Erin – This is a great point that you make. I guess it will depend on each individual puppy. Bully sticks soften when they are wet from chewing, so those I can’t fathom would present a risk. The antlers are very hard, however, so you would want to avoid those if your puppy is an extremely aggressive chewer. I’ve raised many giant breed puppies and never had a single broken tooth, but I know it can happen. Supervision is the key to preventing anything like that from happening. If you are worried about it, maybe opt for more toys than bones at this stage. Your puppy will be thrilled with anything that gives her your attention. You add in the mental and physical stimulation of a good game of fetch or hide and seek when she’s teething and she will be a happy girl! 🙂

  32. Joy Eriksen says:

    I used, and still use, tug toys. My dogs love to play tug. Harriet brings me a tug toy to play every morning. I also keep big beef knuckle bones in my freezer. They keep them busy for hours. I also have my dogs carry around a tug toy.
    Dogs never lose the need to bite. (Suppressing that need, or anything, will cause problems later) Dogs who don’t get to bite, have a mastication muscle that is unable to produce the neurotransmitters needed to have a level head. Then you have behavioral problems in these dogs. They HAVE to bite. When I have a client that doesn’t get what I am trying to tell the, I will ask, especially if it is a woman, how they feel when they bite into a piece of chocolate, or a crunchy cracker. Why do food companies do so much research on the crunch level of their products. Because it makes people feel good. It’s the same with dogs.

  33. Ok I’ve been trying the whole get up walk away and I’ve taken a few good nips to the back of my legs or rear.. am I doing something wrong ? My puppy is 8 weeks old I tried to have breeder keep him until at least 10 but it wasn’t possible.. help!

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