Much like human babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths. At 12-16 weeks their adult teeth will also start growing, causing them discomfort and the need to chew even more to relieve the pain. Read on for some tips that will help to stop puppies from biting so you can get back to enjoying your little bundle of fun instead!
Puppies are not bad on purpose. If you watch your puppy playing rough with her puppy siblings; biting, chasing and wrestling. You’ll see that after a yelp the playing usually settles down a little or might even stop for a bit!
When teaching your puppy to stop biting, it is important to understand how dogs naturally behave, rather than punishing or correcting your puppy (which actually doesn’t work and can affect your relationship with your puppy). Below are some useful things that will help you to get a puppy to stop biting.
- Work out why your puppy is biting
- Teach your puppy what they can and cannot put in their mouth
- Show your puppy that biting you hurts
- Get your puppy used to moving things
- Keep it consistent
Learn more in our FREE eBook: The ultimate guide to stopping puppy biting and chewing
Work out why your puppy is biting
Puppies bite for a variety of reasons such as fear, boredom, instinct, arousal and more. Watch your puppy closely and try to find out why they are biting. Or enlist help from a professional to help you work it out. You could send a video to our puppy experts for example. Your puppy’s breed may also come into play here, for instance, if you have a herding breed then they may instinctively nip or bite running kids as they would livestock. To stop puppies from biting, we first need to find out what is causing them to bite!
If your puppy is showing their teeth or growling, don’t correct them or get angry at them. When you get angry at your puppy for showing you that they are not happy, they will stop using warning behaviors. Instead, they might just go straight to biting when they are uncomfortable. If your puppy is showing these behaviors regularly, get help from a professional trainer to make your dog more comfortable in their environment so they don’t feel a need to protect themselves.
Teach your puppy what they can and cannot put in their mouth
Instead of telling your puppy off for biting various things, give them something they CAN bite. For example, if your puppy is biting your arms or hands when you play, have some toys to give to your puppy before they start biting. Just make sure they are safe for your puppy to chew on. A stretchy rope toy or a soft toy would be a good place to start for a young puppy.
If your puppy still goes to bite your arm instead, end the game for a bit and walk away. Then come back with a toy and invite them to chase it as you wiggle it around and encourage them to tug on it while you play with them. Puppies LOVE to play so the more you play with them in a way you also enjoy, the more likely it is that they will stop biting at your hands or arm to engage you in play.
Show your puppy that it hurts when they bite you
All puppies have to learn that they can’t play with people the same way they did with their siblings. You can teach your puppy that human skin is very sensitive and shouldn’t be bitten, even by accident. It’s much eassier to stop puppies biting while they are still young, so make sure you show them that you don’t like biting from the very beginning.
If your puppy is fairly sensitive, a high squeal that you make when their teeth touch your hand is usually enough. Right after squealing, get up and leave without saying anything or even looking at them. This way your puppy will learn that all the fun stops the minute their teeth touch your hand.
Get your puppy used to moving things
Dogs are naturally interested in things that are moving. That’s why things like people’s pants or shoes are so tempting for them to grab! If your dog likes to bite your clothes or other things that move, you will need to do some extra training to help them not get over-excited when something moves.
Get your puppy used to things moving past them and reward them when they do something nice (e.g. wait patiently or play with you) instead of reacting to the moving things. For example, if your dog likes to bite the wheels of a bike that moves past them:
- Take some yummy treats and have your dog on a leash while someone rides a bike nearby.
- Say your dog’s name and if it looks at you, give it a treat.
- If your dog doesn’t look when you say its name, move a bit further from the bike so they can focus more on you. As soon as your dog looks at you, say “yes” and give it a treat.
- Repeat until the bike can ride around close to your dog and your dog’s attention stays on you, waiting for a treat.
- You can start fading out the treats a bit each session until your dog is no longer interested in the bike.
If your dog isn’t taking treats you can also use another reward such as a toy. Or try again another time when your puppy is more hungry. For example, just before breakfast time (you could even use their breakfast as a reward). Just like any other training session, teaching puppies to stop biting should become part of the daily routine. Every time you go for a walk or engage in play, be ready to teach your puppy how you want them to behave.
Keep it consistent — all puppies become adult dogs eventually!
Finally, like with any skills you teach your puppy, make sure you stick with the same rules from the beginning. If you let your puppy tug on your clothes or bite your hands on some occasions, it is much harder for them to understand later on, why they can’t do that as an adult dog. This is why it’s important to always stay consistent. Never let the puppy bite or chew anything you wouldn’t want them to bite as an adult dog.
If you have followed our tips above but need more help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Every dog is different so what works for some, may not work for others. Let us help you and your puppy to become a great team!
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