Puppies biting, is a commonly faced issue by all new puppy owners and one that we are commonly contacted about to help rectify. When bringing home a puppy, it is unrealistic to expect them not to want to explore the world with their mouths, just as young children like to grab everything with their hands; puppies like to do the same with their mouths.
So how to stop my puppy from biting?
One of the first steps to stopping your puppy from biting is to understand why they are biting, as unfortunately people commonly only correct the behaviour without understanding what is causing it and giving the puppy an appropriate outlet. One of the main reasons why puppies bite is due to wanting to be social, but not understanding how to appropriately interact with their human companions. The other reasons for puppies biting can be due to teething so they bite into objects to release the pressure and try breaking through their teeth, also a common cause is over excitement and the puppy not being given appropriate outlets.
Teach your puppy how to appropriately use their mouth- One of the first steps is being consistent and providing a clear message to your puppy, meaning that the consequence for biting is always the same and ensuring the puppy is always rewarded for not biting. People very commonly inadvertently reinforce biting behaviour with their puppies, by patting them when they are mouthing their hands etc, it’s really important if you want your puppy to stoping mouthing that you cease this type of behaviour. A common mistake also made is humans erratically moving their hands around young puppies especially over their heads, which encourages chasing behaviour, once the puppy bites their hand they then scream and move their hands some more which only excites the puppy and makes the behaviour worse.
Listed below are some great ways to teach you puppy what’s appropriate to use their mouth with.
- Encourage calm behaviour and being patted- Hold a treat in one hand and offer it to the puppy, whilst the other hand calmly pats them on the head. By doing this your puppy builds a positive association with hands going over their head and being touched is a good thing. This exercise is great for children as it generally slows down their hand movements.
- Offer appropriate play items- When playing with your puppy and they go to chew your hand, give a stern “No or Ah” wait a second for their biting to stop then re-direct them onto a toy and praise them playing with it.
- Keep play session’s short- People very commonly play with their puppies for too long, which leads to their puppies getting bored of their toys and over excited which turns into biting of hands etc. Make sure to always keep your play sessions short and end on a high note by giving your puppy a tasty treat for good behaviour.
- Don’t attempt to pat an over excited puppy- If your puppy is over excited now is not a good time to try and pat them unless they know not to bite.
- Play tug with your puppy!!- Unfortunately people are very commonly instructed to not play any tug-of-war style games with their puppies due to old outdated theories, by teaching your puppy this game, they learn appropriate toys to play with, how to let go of items and also impulse control. Playing tug with your puppy is great but you must first teach them the rules of them game which include- Letting go of the toy on command, biting the toy when allowed, bringing the toy back and not biting hands. To learn how to play tug appropriately please check out- 5 top tips for playing tug
Give appropriate outlets during teething- By the age or around 12 weeks your puppy will have his full first set of teeth, shortly after that your puppy will begin to lose their milk teeth and there permanent adult teeth will start to come through. Teething can be irritating, painful and frustrating your puppy, which can also result in some temporary changes in behaviour and there is generally an increase in mouthing/ biting inappropriate items and their human family. Some tips to help your puppy through teething are listed below-
- A frozen bone treat can be a great relief for your puppy, as the cool reduces swelling and the bone gives them an appropriate outlet for chewing. To make a frozen bone treat, place a few raw bones such as chicken wings in the bottom of a 500ml container fill the rest with water then place in freeze till frozen.
- Provide your puppy with plenty of acceptable chew toys, which are regularly changed over to prevent your puppy from getting bored of them, I have found the Kong range of product to be of great quality and long lasting.
If you require professional assistance please visit our In home puppy training page