Did you know your cuddly puppy has 28 tiny razor-sharp teeth? It may seem cute but as your puppy grows, it might use its teeth to tear apart your shoes and furniture. Even when you yelp or cry out, your puppy is biting away at your fingers. You may think, “is it normal for my puppy to bite so much?”.
Well, it is.
Puppies go through a teething stage, where they explore the world with their mouths. And sometimes, your favorite shoes will suffer the consequences.
While playing with them, your puppy may play-bite, nip, or chew on anything they can sink their pearly whites into. Don’t take it personally—this is normal behavior called play biting.
We know it’s painful and irritating but fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stop your puppy from biting.
Here is a quick overview of play biting and how you can train your puppy to stop the habit.
What is play-biting behavior in puppies?
Puppies don’t only communicate with barks and tail wags. They also “talk” to each other through bites and nips. When playing with others, puppies will nip to encourage the desired action.
Many puppies also bite their mothers for more milk. If they bite their mother or their siblings too hard, the other dog will yelp, cry, or even bite back as a warning. It is their way of saying, “Hey, that really hurt!”
While play-biting is normal, too much biting or even hard biting isn’t any behavior you need to tolerate. Learning how to moderate their bites is an important lesson to teach your puppy early.
Puppies that don’t learn bite inhibition keep this behavior as adult dogs. If there’s a situation that causes them to be fearful or in pain, they may react by putting their mouth on you or another person.
However, when taught bite inhibition, your furry friend understands that they shouldn’t bite too hard. If your puppy bites you harder than usual, know that it isn’t anything personal. They still love you very much.
You can help your puppy learn biting inhibition from our tips below:
How do you train your puppy to stop biting?
Remember that, training takes time and consistency. Puppies learn best when you’re reinforcing what they’ve learned on a regular basis. So, as you read each of the following tips, make sure you schedule time throughout your week for puppy training.
1. Teach your puppy bite inhibition.
Your puppy’s personality plays a big factor in how they respond to training. Most puppies respond if you cry or yell “ow!” in a high-pitched voice since it tells them that their bite has caused you pain.
Other puppies are stubborn that they may even continue biting you, not caring if it hurts you. For some puppies, making any type of noise may even egg them on, causing them to bite even harder.
If your puppy is biting you even after you’ve yelped, it’s time to stop playing with them. Just turn around and walk away. You can also put the puppy inside their crate to calm them down.
Once they’ve calmed down, take them out again and watch for their behavior. Reward your dog when they’re calm and refraining from biting you.
2. Teach your puppy that biting means “game over”.
During playtime with your puppy, keep this rule in mind: once there’s biting, playtime is over—no exceptions. Do not use negative reinforcement at all costs. We emphasize this little tip a lot, but there’s a good reason why.
Yelling, hitting, and scolding your puppy does nothing but force them to associate training with negative feelings. In its own way, it serves as a reward for their bad behavior.
Your puppy may start seeing biting as a way to coax a response from you. This training mistake is known as positive punishment. Negative reinforcement can also cause your puppy to fear being touched or handled by you.
3. Give your puppy a toy to chew.
What is a good replacement for shoes and furniture? A chew toy, of course! As soon as you anticipate your puppy’s bites, present them with a squeaky, chewy toy. Do this every time your puppy shows signs of biting.
Your puppy will learn what objects are okay to bite or chew. You can also offer a toy when your puppy is nibbling on your fingers or toys.
Again, if they bite down too hard, stop playing with them immediately. Another thing you can do is redirect them with other tricks. Ask your puppy to sit or lay down when they get the urge to chew on your toes.
4. Prevent the pounce.
Some puppies give off signs before they begin biting. Pouncing on legs and feet is how puppies say, “come play with me!”.
If your puppy is the type to pounce on your legs and feet while you walk, hold a yummy treat by your side. Guide your puppy into walking along your side without pouncing or jumping.
Give them the treat and then a chewy toy afterward. If your puppy is still trying to get a nip at your toes or make a mess of your shoes, they may have extra energy to burn up.
Take them outside for a few minutes (or an hour) of playtime. We suggest fetching or running as two fun activities to do with your puppy outside.
5. Offer quiet time or a potty break.
When a puppy bites too much, it may mean that they’re very tired. Give your puppy their space or place them in their crate for a nap. If your furry friend needs a potty break, then let them out.
Note that your puppy may also be hungry or thirsty. Make sure you’re feeding them on time and that you’re offering water all day.
It’s hard to teach your little play biter to stop sinking their teeth into everything they see. Despite its challenges, it’s not impossible. The secret to training is consistency and patience.
Your puppy may not get the rules right away. They may even resist what they’re learning and try to boss you around.
Even if your puppy comes at you during one play session and then backs away in the next, you should never let your guard down.
Reinforce your training. Do not allow your puppy to bite you, even if they’re playing around. They don’t mean to but if you’re firm, it teaches them that their behavior is unacceptable.
If you notice your puppy hasn’t changed their behavior by the time they’re six months old, you should consult the expertise of a dog trainer.
At Petland Kansas City, we have trainers with years of experience in pet education and training. Book an appointment today to learn more about how to train your puppy.
Read our blog, How To Stop Your Puppy’s Excessive Barking to learn how to control your furry friend’s biting habits.