Learning how to prevent or stop your puppy from biting is an essential skill that must be honed by every responsible dog owner. Granted, we have all seen news reports about a member of the public or a family member being mauled by a dog. The duty is on responsible dog owners to prevent or stop biting as part of their puppy training.
Generally, puppies use their mouths to not only explore their environment but to play with other puppies as well. Without their litter mates, puppies are likely to turn to their owners to play. If not discouraged, they will include their bites and nips in their play too. While this biting and nipping may be cute at the start, it will most certainly feel less so once your cute 15-pound puppy has grown into an 80-pound dog.
Training your puppy to stop from biting is therefore something that should be done when your pet is still small. The earlier you commence this process, the easier it will be to break the biting habit before your neighbors and friends become too petrified to visit your house. Below, we take a look at how to stop a puppy from biting in 4 easy ways.
Puppy bite inhibition is a puppy’s ability to control the intensity of their bite and their ability to control when and when not to bite. Training a puppy not to bite is arguably the most important lesson they will ever learn. The way you train your puppy will determine their entire future and the dog they will become. A dog’s character, temperament, and behavior habits are all formed during puppyhood. For this reason, it is important to start training as early as possible.
Bite inhibition training is a sub category of behavior training. Behavior training is really behavior modification training. It is the process of adjusting a dog’s natural habits to mesh better with our lifestyle and the society in which we live. Dog’s are the most happy when we are happy. This is why you should convey a clear message to them all the time and let them know that biting a person is not acceptable.
Up to 8 weeks of age, puppies are normally still in their litter. During nursing and play-fighting, they are corrected for biting too rough by their mother and siblings. By the time a puppy makes it home, assuming they were properly socialized, they have a pretty good understanding of bite inhibition with other puppies and dogs.
For the most part, they teach themselves bite inhibition with other dogs during puppyhood. However, pet owners need to supplement their development by teaching them proper behavior towards people.
Generally speaking, dogs love to make people happy. They almost never do anything out of malice, so puppy biting is usually a misunderstanding. When a dog does something that ends up hurting, we usually react with a few upset words and an angry tone.
When a puppy is calm, they can interpret tones relatively easy. But if they are biting, they are probably too excited to be able to focus on tones. In this case, the pitch and following actions are the most important parts. When it comes to bite training, you have to react differently than what is natural to you. Instead, you must react the way a dog would if they were bitten.
It’s important for your puppy to learn that, what may seem like him to be playful fun, can actually be a painful experience for humans when his teeth come into contact with skin.
Mouthing is a natural action for a dog. Just as humans use their hands, dogs use their mouths. When we play with a dog, in general we use our hands and the dog responds by using his mouth – puppies are like children and your puppy will not know how hard he can ‘mouth’ you unless you show him – the way you do this is to remember to protest when he is too rough – by saying “Ouch”.
You also need to remember that puppies teethe – just like babies do, and the process of them loosing their baby teeth can be painful and uncomfortable, in the same way that human babies struggle with the growth of teeth, so do puppies and it can affect some dogs more than others. You have to be appreciative of this and therefore attentive to the fact that there will be a temptation/need for the puppy to nibble things – you just need to make sure that he doesn’t nibble people.
Puppies love to gently bite when you are petting them or rubbing their belly. However, to let them know that this behavior is inappropriate, one needs to get loud.
As soon as your puppy touches your skin with its teeth, it is advisable to let out a loud yelp or squeal before walking away from it and avoiding eye contact for several seconds. This will undoubtedly startle it whilst also letting it know that it hurt you and that the behavior will not be condoned.
Alternatively, you can use other noise makers such as an empty can filled with rocks which you ought to shake and say a firm ‘No!’ each time your puppy bites. Puppies detest the sound of loud noises, especially when they are unexpected. By using such tactics, you can help your puppy break its biting habit.
Unfortunately, your puppy is unlikely to know that your hands are not the same thing as their favorite toy. This means that they will bite your skin in much the same way that they would their favorite ball or another dog.
Instead, encourage your puppy to chew on its toys. The minute that your pet begins to gnaw on your feet or fingers, replace that body part with one of its teething toys. Also, ensure that there are plenty of toys available for your pup to chew on as it distracts them from other chewable items such as your hands or ankles.
For instance, you could keep a toy in your pocket as you move around the house and immediately your puppy starts nipping at your feet, pull it out and distract him. Do this several times and your puppy will learn to let you move around without biting.
It is useful for the puppy to have a selection of toys to play with, teddies, chews, Kong Toys and other items that you don’t mind being damaged by sharp, needle teeth – old slippers seem to be favourites.
In cases of extreme puppy biting, one may have to resort to physical measures. This, however, does not mean punishing your pet or any physical disciplinary act. Rather, as soon as your pup uses its teeth to touch your hands, yell out a firm ‘No!’ and then proceed to place your thumb under its tongue. Hold this position for several seconds whilst ensuring that you do not press too tightly. Remember, your intention is to prevent him from biting as opposed to harming him.
If other methods are unsuccessful at preventing puppy biting, you could try deterrent sprays which have a bitter taste. These are especially effective if your pet is fond of chewing on things such as furniture.
Begin by applying the deterrent on your hand (gloved or otherwise) during play. As soon as your puppy starts to lick and bite your hand, it will encounter a bitter taste in its mouth which should instill in it that nipping on your hands in the future will not be a pleasant encounter.
Needless to say, there are few things that are as exciting as having a new puppy in your household. While they are a joy to behold, they can also be quite hard to handle, especially when it comes to biting. This natural behavior needs to be reined in before those cute puppy teeth turn into adult teeth which is why the above tips are crucial in your puppy eventually learning that biting is not acceptable behavior.