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Shih Tzu Puppy Teething 

Chewing Due to Teething: There are some behaviors that may seem inbred into a Shih Tzu and many other breeds of dogs; however with some patience and a bit of training any of these behaviors can be modified to keep both dog and owner happy.

Chewing may top the list of all dog owners in regard to behavior problems! We can separate this into 2 categories: chewing that is the result of sometimes extreme urges to soothe teeth and gum discomfort that arises during a pup’s teething phase and destructive chewing (by both puppies and dogs) due to various reasons.

Let’s look at teething and how this affects the behavior of a Shih Tzu puppy:

Born without any teeth at all, milk (or deciduous) teeth emerge between the young age of 3 and 6 weeks old. These are the temporary set that will only remain during young puppyhood. 

They are small, yet very sharp, and this is why a “nip” can hurt so much from such a tiny pup.

Beginning as early as 4 months old and lasting to as late as 10 months old, those 28 milk teeth will fall out and be replaced by 42 adult teeth. 
This usually happens in a particular order: First the incisors, then the premolars and finally the back molars and canines. Females tend to go through this process a bit earlier than males.
As those tiny puppy teeth fall out, the roots are absorbed back into the body. The tooth itself does fall out however many owners do not even notice this since they are so small. They may drop into food and be swallowed, fall out during play time, etc.

There are several reasons why teething causes so much discomfort to a Shih Tzu puppy (or any other dog breed for that matter) and leads to this sometimes serious behavior problem:

As the adult-dog teeth emerge, they twist and shift as they move into place and this itself can cause discomfort. Front teeth are comparatively less painful that back, as molars having a much larger surface, will cause more puppy teething discomfort – This is one reason why some owners will remark that their Shih Tzu seemed to be doing just fine with teething, only to have a sudden increase in intense chewing problems as time goes on…And this can be traced back to the pup handing the front teeth okay, but feeling pain when those back molars started pushing through Therefore, an increase in chewing problems can often be correlated to the particular teething phase that the Tzu is experiencing.

The urge to chew can be quite serious, not only do the gums ache, there can also be an “itchiness” to the area and in some cases there can be uncomfortable swelling of the gum tissue. Without being taught to chew on “approved” items, a Shih Tzu may seem to have an unstoppable urge to gnaw on everything. This is one reason why we highly recommend puppy-proofing the home. Not only does it remove any items that can be accidentally swallowed, it keeps your personal items from becoming victims of the “unstoppable chew”.

Using Velcro, ties or tape, electrical cords should be put out of the way, shoes (and other personal items) should be tucked onto shelves or placed into areas that the Shih Tzu cannot access. It’s amazing how many owners are shocked that a teething Shih Tzu puppy ripped apart a shoe that was placed in the direct path of chewing machine!
A Tzu puppy is only focusing on 1 element at this time: What can ease the pain? Therefore, the goal will be to remove as many temptations as possible and replace them with viable options to help during this time.

What can help? Ice cubes can be tremendously helpful. Some do well with just plain ones while others need just a bit of encouragement via flavored ice. If you opt for flavored, a touch of low-salt chicken broth mixed into water and frozen into trays works very well. Placed on a hard surface floor (linoleum, tile, etc.), a pup will have fun chasing the cube around, while satisfying his or her urge to chew. The “crunch” of the ice helps along with the soothing coolness that this provides.
In addition, of course, must be the right chew toys. Strong rubber or ropes type toys that are specifically made for toy breed chewing are recommended. Keeping 2 separate stashes is also a good idea; one set can be left out and when a Tzu becomes bored of those, they can be swapped out for the other and on and on it goes.

It is at this time that owners must teach that chewing on a person’s clothing (or hand, or toe!) is not permitted. Yelling or other harsh discipline is never needed. If your Shih Tzu is chewing on an unapproved item, simply switch it out for an approved toy, wait 1 minute and give praise. Wait an additional minute and offer great praise and a taste of a treat. This simply training reinforces that toys are good and the sofa (or other object) is not. A puppy will learn that praise is only given when chewing on his toy and if he remains doing so, a treat is given as well.

Shih Tzu puppies left home alone should be in an enclosed gated off area. Please do not crate a Tzu for more than an hour or so, when home alone and when wide awake. Crates are fine for pre-housebroken dogs at night, when most of the time will be spent sleeping. However confinement such as this during the day will only increase stress, which increases chewing.

And this brings us to other reasons that dogs chew, since stress is one of them. Stress and boredom are the 2 top reasons for a non-teething puppy or dog to display destructive chewing behavior.

Now, of course canines have an instinct to chew. Give a dog a nice chew toy with treats inside, or a healthy edible chew, and he or she can be happy for a hour. However, ripping and shredding apart objects is an outward display of emotions. Since you can’t give your Shih Tzu a pep talk or reason with him or her, the only step that is logical is to address the environment that is triggering the behavior.

We humans can shop, watch TV, hold conversations, work, laugh, surf the web and do all sorts of things to make the day go by quickly. Your dog needs things to do as well. A Shih Tzu can most certainly become bored, thus leading to chewing problems if he or she is left to their own devices for long periods of time, and day after day.

Having a schedule can help quite a bit. Not only does it help owners make sure that everything is done, it also helps guide a dog through his day, giving him alternative times of activity and rest. This aids in good behavior, a way to release pent up energy and in turn, less destructive chewing.

It can be helpful to have set times to: Brush the coat, perform dental care, go for daily walks, take time to play outside and work on command training. There should also be set times for meals. When housebreaking, there will be plenty of schedules trips to the designated area. Add into this quiet time for independent play and family relaxing time in the evening. This can all blend together to make a Shih Tzu feel as if he or she has had a full day. There will be little time for boredom and having a routine helps a dog to sleep better at night as well.

Remember to always praise good behavior, followed by reward for lasting good behavior.

As you know, chewing behavior is a complicated issue and specific training must be implemented for specific chewing issues. To learn how you can have all of the needed chewing information, click here to see our book.
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