teaching your puppy not to bite

Rockin Canine Training Puppy Biting

How To Teach Your Puppy Not To Bite

You’ve welcomed your new puppy into your house, given him extra attention, although in return, they are giving you a little too much attention back – in the form of biting. It may seem out of character at first, but luckily teaching your puppy not to bite when he is still young is a rewarding process that will form a stronger bond between dog and owner if done in the correct manner.

Puppies are very much like human babies. The world is a sensory experience for them, something to be explored in every way possible. Just as a baby or toddler puts everything he finds into his mouth, puppies explore the world through biting, chewing and nibbling on everything they come across. Here’s the problem with that: Puppy teeth are sharp! There small, sharp teeth can inadvertently hurt someone. More importantly, however, what seems like cute, innocent play when the puppy is small can actually be a very dangerous behavior when the dog is full grown. A dog needs to learn that chewing and nibbling or biting is not acceptable behavior.

The Reasons why your puppy is biting

stop my puppy from bithingTeething

– Puppies will often chew whatever they can get their mouths on such as toys, balls, and sticks to relieve pressure on their gums. Clean up and items in the house that you don’t want your puppy accidentally chewing. Please be aware, your puppy is in a highly “Chewing everything” stage and this must be taken into consideration when he is in the home. If you do catch your puppy chewing something they shouldn’t be chewing, replace it with an acceptable chew toy, or replace it with a pre-frozen plush toy (which will help sooth his painful gums)

 Teething Sticks may be helpful if you have narrowed teething down to the reason why your puppy is still biting

Puppy Teething sticks are a great way to keep your puppy entertained as well as sooth gums and clean teeth. For around $10 they are a practical start to stopping your puppy from biting

  • Puppy rubber formula for soothing gums and cleaning new teeth
  • Available in three sizes: S, M,L
  • For use with dogs up to nine months of ageSee our puppy teething timeline below for details on when to expect the most biting behavior

The MBpets puppy teething timeline

  • Interactions 

Puppies are still in the young development stage, so puppies are highly engaged with their surroundings and owners reactions and actions.

  • He wants to play

During the first 12 weeks, the litter play with one another or even with their mother by biting. Once a puppy is taken away from its biological family, and an owner takes its role, the puppy does not stop playing and biting. You may notice it biting at your heels or your pants while you walk. Its his way of asking for attention and telling you it’s playtime.

  • He plays Alpha

Your little pet, especially if adopted with other litters, sometimes wants to play the Alpha role. He demonstrates dominance over the other puppies by biting. This behavior is evident in the wild where the pup learns from its parent as a member of the pack. He wants to be fed. Since your puppy cannot talk, it barks and bite. This is his way of telling you that he is hungry and needs to be given something to eat.

  • He wants to explore

A puppy learns how to explore from his mother. The mother and litter play by biting each other gently. Just as when the puppy is taken away from the mother, it learns about his surroundings by biting materials around him such as shoes, toys, etc. He is angry, scared or excited. A puppy shows dismay and anxiety by biting. Since its birth it has learned to protect itself by its mother’s example of barking and biting to protect its litter.

  • He is herding

If you have a puppy from a herding breed, it is instinct for them to bite. These dogs are bred to chase cattle or sheep that they may manifest later on in life by biting their owners. He may be teething. As puppies’ teeth are still developing, he may show discomfort and pain by biting. There are ways to determine this and help stop puppy biting.

The best ways to stop a puppy from biting

  • Redirecting your puppies attention

Because your puppy is highly engaged in the first years of his/her life, they are desperate to explore their surroundings and things that bring them stimulation. Using treats is a way for an owner to divert the urge to bite into a positive engagement with your puppy , where the outcome is – the puppy gets rewarded by good behavior, and the owner gets rewarded by a well-behaved puppy.

  • Keep treats on hand at all times

It’s handy to keep a bag of treats on hand at all times. It’s best to get your dog into a habit of only being rewarded when he/she has done a good job and has followed your instructions.

  • Determine the Cause

The first step in learning how to stop a puppy from biting is to determine what causes such behavior. After all, nipping and biting is a perfectly normal phase for your puppy to go through. Much like babies, teething puppies will resort to chewing to relieve discomfort. This, however, does not justify the nipping that results when the biting behavior worsens. Be sure to applaud your puppy’s positive efforts and discourage bad behaviors.

  • Set the parameters

To learn how to stop a puppy from biting, it is important to select the level of mouthing that you are prepared to accept. Perhaps you will permit your dog to softly touch your hands or feet with her teeth, or maybe you will make it clear to her that there is to be no contact at all. When you reach your comfort level, yelp loudly when bitten by your puppy, and immediately turn your entire body away. Walk a few strides away, maintaining your face and eyes averted. Do not talk to her, and do not look at her. The objective of this is to have your puppy isolated for a short amount of time, so that the lesson sinks in, but not long enough for her to forget what prompted your actions. This is an important strategy to adopt when attempting to learn how to stop a puppy from biting.

  • Pretend you are in pain

Another technique to consider when trying to learn how to stop a puppy from biting is to make a sound like a dog yelping in pain when your puppy bites you. She will get a surprised look on her face, and will be more gentle next time. When puppies bite each other, it usually stops when one puppy lets out a yelp. You can be that puppy! Also ponder moving away from your puppy after the yelping sound, as she will associate her biting with your leaving, and consequently will have no one to play with.

  • Avoid Physical Games – Promote Exercise

During the early stages of puppyhood, it is important to avoid rough-housing or playing aggressive physical games with your puppy. This involves games that provoke aggression, such as wrestling, tug of war or chasing games. This type of physical play will only encourage your puppy to start nipping and biting with excitement and they may soon learn to associate biting with fun. Down the road, once your puppy learns that biting is not acceptable behavior, you can begin to incorporate physical games into play time. Promoting exercise, on the other hand, is an excellent way to lessen your puppy’s urges to bite. Aside from the obvious health benefits, exercise helps to reduce boredom, which is a major cause of puppy biting.

  • Be creative

Consider gently using your hand to your advantage. When your puppy bites your hand, gently place your thumb inside her mouth under her tongue, and gently place your finger under her chin. Hold it there gently for about 10 seconds. She will not be able to keep on biting you, but will soon get the idea. Follow this up with some positive reinforcement.

  • Timeout

If your puppy is making repeated attempts to bite you, despite your diligent efforts to the contrary, then consider the “time out” method to help you learn how to stop a puppy from biting. A five minute cool down period can work wonders.

  • Redirect her attention

An additional method to learn how to stop a puppy from biting is to redirect her attention to something that is permissible to bite, like a rawhide bone. Also consider filling up an empty can with rocks or coins. When your puppy starts to bite, say NO!, and shake the can. Your puppy will not like the sound, and will soon form a negative association between that sound and biting various parts of your anatomy.

  • Positive Reinforcement

When you are trying to learn how to stop a puppy from biting, it is vital to remember to praise and reward your puppy when she refrains from biting. The more you do, the more it will become ingrained in her mind that something positive is to be gained by not biting you. Regular and consistent application of positive reinforcement can go a long ways to help in your quest to stop your puppy from biting.

  • Reinforce Good Behavior

Each time your puppy plays nicely or licks you without giving into his urge to bite, shower your little one with plenty of praise. This will reinforce the good behavior and encourage your puppy to want to please you more.

  • Tap the Nose

If your dog begins to bite or nip, quickly tell him to sit. Once he is seated, take your index finger, hold it in front of his nose, and then tap him on the nose as you say “bad dog” in a stern voice. Remember, the touch itself is not a punishment, so it should not be very strong. It is simply understood as a surprising element to encourage him to stop bad behavior. Do not scream; only use a strict tone that he will understand. Your dog will eventually come to understand that when you raise an index finger it is an indication to stop a behavior.

  • A professional dog trainer

If your puppy’s biting will just not cease, despite your patient and consistent efforts, and if it starts to escalate to growling and snarling, then you should consult with a professional trainer before it comes a form of serious aggression.

  • Consult a veterinarian

You may also wish to speak with your local veterinarian to rule out the possibility that your puppy is suffering from an underlying medical condition that is the cause of her biting.

  • Dog Obedience Training

Final words of wisdom

It is always a good idea to enroll your puppy in a dog obedience training class at around 6 months old. Socializing with other dogs is an excellent way to teach your dog boundaries and limitations while reinforcing positive behaviors.

Above all, the main key to learning how to stop a puppy from biting is to be consistent with your training. Do not expect your dog to understand what you are trying to teach him on your first attempt. By following these simple tips with consistent training, you can ensure that your puppy becomes a healthy and well behaved dog.

It’s very important to let your puppy know that he needs to be gentle when playing with people or other dogs. He needs to know that biting and chewing hurts and that it is not acceptable behavior. To do that, it’s important to start right away when he is small. Don’t let him form bad habits by letting things slide in the name of “he’s just a puppy.” Puppies are very receptive to training, just like human babies absorb everything they see and hear.

From the beginning, never let your puppy nibble on your hands during play. It may seem like a game (and it probably is) but your puppy needs to learn from the get-go that it is never ok to use his teeth on humans. Don’t stick your hands in your dog’s mouth, either. He will instinctively chew or bite to defend himself – and why wouldn’t he? You’d chew on someone’s hand if he thrust it into your mouth! Putting your hands in your dog’s mouth will only serve to encourage the very behavior you are trying to change.

Correcting a biting behavior will be most successful if you are very attentive to cues that indicate when a dog is about to bite. When you sense that your dog is about to bite or chew, firmly say no and immediately offer your dog an approved item for chewing such as a rawhide bone or a chew toy. Offering a safe chewing alternative will satisfy your puppy’s need to chew while still correcting the undesirable behavior. It’s not enough to tell a puppy they simply can’t chew – they have too strong an urge to chew and nibble, just like a teething baby. Instead, you need to teach them the difference between what they are allowed to chew on and what is unacceptable. It will take some trial and error, but your puppy will eventually catch on. When the biting behavior is finally curbed, be sure to offer lots of praise for your puppy’s hard work!

Teaching your puppy not to bite people can be a bit of a challenge at first, but if you stick with it your puppy will soon catch on. By teaching him how to respect people and not use them as his personal chew toys, you’ll have a well-behaved puppy whom everyone enjoys being around. You can get on with the business of enjoying your puppy without worrying that those razor-sharp little teeth will hurt someone (or destroy your favorite chair!).

Samantha graves

Dog Lover enthusiast, Dog Sitter and Dog trainer residing in Sydney, Australia

1 comment

  • I am having this issue with my new Lab puppy. Does anyone have any recommendations for chew toys? Maybe looking for something that will last a little longer than the teething sticks

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