Thurber’s Tail: How to survive your sharp-toothed puppy

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The bloodshed was everywhere.

It was all over my house, my parent’s house, my neighbors’ houses and splattered at any location in which anyone dared to pet my 9-week-old bundle of joy, Thurber the yellow Labrador.

I was desperate to stop Thurber’s reign of puppy-toothed terror, but how?

Why Are a Puppy’s Teeth So Sharp?

Puppies, like humans, are born without teeth, but by the time they are 2- to 4-weeks old, they start growing “deciduous teeth” — the sharpest blades known to mankind.

In the wild, razor-sharp teeth are needed to help puppies consume meat and soft food.

These teeth also help puppies to develop their jaw muscles and strong biting force, which are also necessities in the wild.

About 28 of these Ginsu-teeth are formed by your puppy’s sixth week. He’ll have about 42 by his 12th week, when his less-treacherous permanent teeth will finally start replacing his deciduous slicers.

Which means you are at risk of random bloodlettings for a good month or so until his permanent teeth come in.

How to Protect Your Flesh?

Your puppy has no intention of harming you with his baby daggers. The reason he attempts to bite and chew your hands, reports thelabradorsite.com, is that it helps him relieve the discomfort he is experiencing during the teething process.

One thing you can do during this time is to use voice commands to begin training your puppy not to bite; always reward him with praise and a small training treat when he complies with your commands.

A second step is to provide dental chews, which can reduce dental pains and give your puppy something else to chew on other than you.

According to Kalmpets.com, frozen carrots and watermelons are tasty treats that can help numb your puppy’s nerves and decrease discomfort. Frozen puppy toys that are durable and safe can have the same effect.

A frozen dishtowel, wrapped around an ice cube, can also reduce pain, but make sure the material is durable enough that your puppy can’t break it apart and digest it.

Corrective Behavior May Help

Though such techniques were helpful with Thurber, they did not stop the biting completely. Desperate, I hired a dog trainer to help me get my puppy under better control.

Her point of view — one that I share — is that most techniques for teaching a dog good behavior should be positive.

However, on rare occasions a corrective action may work best.

To stop him from biting, she placed a rubber “correction” collar on him that had little bumps on the inside of the collar. When he attempted to bite her, thinking he was playing, she gave it a little tug.

Now Thurber was a pup with a lot of energy and rapidly growing muscles. The tug was mild and did not hurt him.

But it was new to him and his response was immediate: he did not like the tug at all and he quickly determined that he better stop the biting to prevent another tug.

I’m not exaggerating here when I tell you after just a few mild tugs — within about a 5-minute period — he never used his sharp teeth to harm anyone again.

Cherish Time with Your Puppy

Looking back, I regret not taking advantage of Thurber’s sharp teeth to make some money.

I could have carried Thurber into a liquor store or bank, while shouting “Give me your money or the puppy makes you bleed!”

In any event, it will seem like an eternity, but by the time your puppy reaches three months of age, his permanent teeth will be in and the little sharp ones will have either fallen out or been harmlessly swallowed.

Be sure to enjoy every moment you can as your puppy blossoms — sharp teeth and all — into a healthy adult, because the transition happens all too fast!

Visit Tom and Thurber’s dog-blog (www.ThurbersTail.com) for entertaining stories and videos that feature the budding social-media star, Thurber the Talking Lab!

Copyright 2023 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features funny videos and lessons he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at [email protected].