The bad news is, your puppy will likely be in a chewing stage until he is 1 to 2 years old. A dog can end up in a shelter because his family was unprepared to deal with this normal part of a dog's development. The good news is that you can make this part of puppyhood easier for you and your dog. Learn what chewing behavior to expect from your puppy and how you can manage it.
Your puppy will begin to cut his first teeth when he is 2 to 3 weeks old. This is the beginning of a set of 28 teeth, commonly known as the milk teeth or baby teeth. When she loses these teeth in a couple of months, they will be replaced by adult teeth. Your puppy will likely chew as this first set of teeth emerges, but it will not be anything compared to what you'll see when he begins to cut his adult teeth. The baby teeth are razor sharp, and their emergence is often a signal to the mother dog that it is time to begin weaning.
When your puppy is about 4 months old, he will enter the most active chewing stage as he begins cutting his adult teeth. This stage of teething will last for about two months. As the permanent teeth erupt through the gums, it causes pain for your puppy. This discomfort makes him want to chew on everything. When his teething is complete, a pup ends up with about 42 adult teeth, though this can vary slightly depending on breed.
By the time your puppy is about 8 months old, he should have his complete set of adult teeth. But this does not mean the chewing stage is over. The next stage of puppy chewing -- adolescent chewing or exploratory chewing -- usually occurs between the ages of 7 and 12 months. Veterinarians think this chewing stage is driven by the discomfort of the teeth setting into the puppy's jawbone, the puppy's desire to learn about his environment, or a combination of the two.
You can manage your puppy's chewing so that you celebrate his first birthday with at least one pair of shoes undecorated with teeth marks. Provide your puppy with appropriate toys and chews, such as rawhide treats, bones and other specialty items designed for teething puppies.
If you suspect your puppy is having discomfort, put a wet washcloth in the freezer for a couple of hours and then give it to him to chew. The cold will help to relieve some of the pain in his gums. As he becomes more mature, especially during the adolescent chewing stage, teach him about what he is and is not allowed to chew. During the earlier stages, crate him when you can't directly supervise him.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.