How to Stop a Puppy From Biting
Puppies are notoriously cute, fluffy and soft - except for their teeth. Puppy teeth are brand new and much like a brand new knife, they haven’t been dulled at all by use. Puppy teeth are notoriously sharp and it's notable that dog’s teeth are at their absolute sharpest when they have had the least experience using them, so thanks nature! Read on to find out our advice for how to stop a puppy from biting.
Why Do Puppies Bite?
Puppies bite beause it's natural to them. Human babies explore the world around them by grabbing everything they can get their hands on and quite often, putting those things in their mouths. Puppies are the same, but they don’t have hands. Mouthing is their way of exploring their environment.
However, when your mouth is full of little razor blades, this isn’t always the most conscientious method of exploration! Additionally, puppies need experience to learn how to regulate their bite strength.
How Puppies Learn To Regulate Their Bite Strength
Puppies learn to regulate their bite strength by spending time with their littermates. If your puppy’s biting is still painful by the time they have entered your home, it’s because they haven’t yet learned this - but not to worry, you can teach them instead!
You can help them continue to learn this skill by playing with them and giving them simulated puppy feedback.
How To Teach Puppies To Regulate Their Bite Strength
Use your hands to play with them and when they bite down too hard, let your hand go limp and give your best high pitched puppy yelp impression - this should get them to stop what they’re doing and release your hand.
Wait for around 10 - 20 seconds before starting to play with them again.
This feedback helps them learn that biting hard hurts and results in an undesirable reaction (playtime stops).
Once they understand that biting down hard on your hand hurts, start to lower the threshold of pressure that their bites have when you yelp. If you keep lowering the threshold, they’ll eventually learn that they should use the lightest of touches when using their mouth to interact with human skin.
Other Tips to Stop Puppies From Biting
In addition to regulating their bite strength using the technique above, there are other tricks you can employ:
Provide a Chew Toy
Offering your puppy a chew toy gives him something to chew on, without your hand being involved! If you sense your pup is in a playful mood, offer the toy so they're playing with it right from the start of play.
Help Them To Burn Off Some Energy
If your pup has an abundance of energy, help them to healthily expel it by allowing them access to a safe dog-friendly outdoor space. Being physically and mentally stimulated is important for dogs, particularly if they're being left alone for periods of time.
Provide a Quiet Space
Tiredness can result in biting, so if you think your puppy might be feeling very tired, make sure they have access to a quiet space where they can get some downtime.
Only Use Praise
A puppy can easily get scared if you punish them for biting, and aggression is often brought on by fear. Instead, use a reward such as a treat for good behavior.
What To Do If Your Puppy Is Biting Out Of Fear or Aggression
Sometimes puppies might bite out of fear or aggression. The first thing to do is ask yourself what might be causing them to react in such a way - are they scared of a child in the house perhaps, or is there something else in their environment causing them to be fearful?
Early training and socialization are crucial to help them become confident dogs that respond well to commands.
If your puppy is showing signs of aggression, including biting out of aggression, it's important to get professional advice from a vet or dog trainer.
Training and socialization from an early age are incredibly important, and combined with regulating their bite strength plus some other tricks, together these methods should help to stop a puppy from biting. Playful biting is a totally natural instinct they have that you can redirect in a more appropriate way and once they understand the parameters of play, it will become a more enjoyable experience for all! Pick up some pup-themed apparel to celebrate your puppy with our Dogs Collection!