If you just brought home a new puppy, chances are, they are going to start chewing on things, and people, while they teeth and learn boundaries. Today, our Houston County vets discuss how you can curb your puppy's nipping and biting.
Why Does My Puppy Keep Biting Me?
Dogs use their mouths and bite things because that is how they discover and interact with the world around them. They can’t use their paws, so they try to do it with their mouths. It’s important to understand that puppy biting is an extremely normal part of their development. Almost anyone who has raised a puppy has experienced biting in one way, shape, or form.
Puppies will often bite due to a mixture of curiosity and to help soothe their sore gums while they are teething.
How Long Does the Biting Stage Last in Puppies?
Every puppy is different but typically the biting and mouthing stage lasts about three to six months.
We understand that this can be a very frustrating time for new dog owners, but don't worry, this stage will pass and we are here to give you some tips and tricks to help get your puppy to stop biting.
How to Stop a Puppy From Biting
While it is completely normal for your puppy to bite, if it's not properly handled at an early stage it can become a lifelong destructive habit.
It’s important to help your puppy learn to curb his mouthy behavior. There are various options to train your puppy to stop mouthing and biting people altogether.
Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition
Learning how to moderate the force of a bite is very important for all dogs. There may come a time when they’re in pain or fearful, and they put their mouth on you or someone else. But if they’ve learned bite inhibition, they understand that they shouldn’t bite down hard.
Puppies naturally nip at each other while playing. If they bite too hard on their mother or littermate, the other dog will likely make a loud yelp sound, warning the puppy that the force of their bite hurt.
Depending on the dog, you can teach this, as well, by making a high-pitched “ow” sound when they bite you. Be cautious though, some dogs get even more worked up and are likely to bite. In this case, it is better to turn quietly around, walk away, or gently put the pup into their crate for a few minutes to calm down. If they do back off, be sure to reward your dog with a treat and some verbal praise.
Redirect the behavior
If your puppy is biting because they are bored or their gums hurt because of teething, you can start by redirecting their biting away from you or your furniture to something that they are allowed to chew such as their toys.
Encourage noncontact forms of play, such as fetch and tug-of-war, rather than wrestling and rough play with your hands. Once your puppy can play tug safely, keep tug toys in your pocket or have them easily accessible. If he starts to mouth you, you can immediately redirect him to the tug toy.
If your puppy bites at your feet and ankles, carry his favorite tug toy in your pocket. Whenever he ambushes you, instantly stop moving your feet. Take out the tug toy and wave it enticingly. When your puppy grabs the toy, start moving again.
Offer Them Quiet Time or a Potty Break
Gently put your puppy in their crate to give them a chance to calm down and prevent them from biting. It’s very important to make sure that they don’t learn to associate the crate with punishment, so be calm. Once the pup calms down, you can let them out.
Sometimes a biting puppy is an over-tired puppy, and they need to be put in a quiet space or crate to take a nap. Other times, they may need a potty break or just be hungry or thirsty.
Let Them Get Some Energy Out
Giving your puppy lots of exercise can be one of the best ways to stop puppy biting. Exercising a puppy is one of the best ways to help alleviate problem behaviors such as biting. Often, puppies act out when they haven’t had enough physical and mental stimulation.
Reinforce the Behaviors You Want
We sometimes forget that when our puppy is calm and quiet, we should reinforce that with a “good dog”, a piece of kibble, and/or a pat. You’ll help them learn what behaviors you’re looking for through positive reinforcement.
Puppy Classes Can Be a Lifesaver
Taking your new puppy to a dog training class can be a safe and effective means of socialization and professional dog trainers can give your tips that can help curb your puppy's problematic behaviors such as biting. They have spent years learning how to train a puppy not to bite, so save yourself some frustration, and let the professionals take sure pressure off of you.
Never Get Frustrated
There will be times when you've reached your wit's end but it is so important to stay calm and never get mad at your puppy. They are still trying to figure out the world around them, and they look up to you to guide them, if you show them your frustration it could cause them to fear you or make your bond less strong, which is the opposite of what you want.
When Does Play Biting Become Aggression?
Most puppy nipping and biting are normal behavior. However, some puppies bite out of fear or frustration, and this type of biting can signal problems with future aggression.
Puppies sometimes have temper tantrums when you make them do something they don't want to do or during play. A puppy temper tantrum is more severe than playful mouthing, but it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between. In most cases, a playful puppy will have a relaxed body and face. If your puppy has a temper tantrum, his body might look very stiff or frozen. He might pull his lips back to expose his teeth or growl. Almost always, his bites will be much more painful than normal mouthing during play.
If you’re holding or handling your puppy and he starts to throw a temper tantrum, avoid yelping like you’re hurt. Doing that might actually cause your puppy to continue or intensify the behavior. Instead, be very calm and unemotional. Don’t hurt your puppy, but continue to hold him firmly without constriction, if possible, until he stops struggling. After he’s quieted down for just a second or two, let him go. Then make plans to contact a qualified professional for help. Repeated bouts of biting in frustration are not something that the puppy will simply grow out of, so your puppy’s behavior should be assessed and resolved as soon as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.