How do I stop my puppy from biting?

So you have a new puppy. You are in love and wasting hours of your day taking cute photos and pandering to their every need. But what about the biting?! If it has been a while since you had a puppy you may have forgotten but it is probably coming back to you fairly quickly about the fact that puppies love mouthing and biting. Everything. This is a normal part of puppy behaviour. You cannot stop puppies exploring their environment with their mouths because it's a normal thing to do. However exploring your skin with their teeth is not appropriate (particularly because those teeth are going to get big, fast!). So what can we do to help to stop it?

First we need to accept that puppies are going to chew something. To this end, puppies need something that they are allowed to chew on. This can be in the form of puppy chew treats or pigs ears, rawhide chews etc. There are also many different types of puppy toys which are appropriate to chew on. It is a good tactic that if your puppy is biting you to use one of the things that the puppy is allowed to chew on to displace that behaviour. Keep these toys or foods handy so if the puppy becomes intent on biting you that you have something to distract them with to redirect their behaviour onto. This includes the puppy who bites at feet, ankles or pant legs. Keep a toy or chew in your pocket to immediately distract and displace the behaviour when it happens.

A word of caution with violent tug games. There needs to be enough separation from you and the puppy by using a toy that is big enough to make it clear that they are not biting you.

If your puppy is less than 10 weeks old it is a normal behaviour that if the puppy bites another puppy too hard the other puppy yelps loudly because it hurt. You can make use of this behaviour by doing the same thing. If the puppy bites you you immediately yelp loudly like it really hurt (and it probably did!). At the same time let your hand go limp. This shock tactic often stops the behaviour. Do not use this tactic more than 3 times in 15 minutes or so as the puppy will be desensitised to you using the tactic.

If the biting continues it is time for the puppy to go for “time out” by immediately withdrawing your attention and affection. Puppies want interaction. If the behaviour (biting) is immediately followed by you completely ignoring the puppy for a minute or so they soon realise what happened before what happened happens. If the behaviour continues then withdraw completely for at least 15 minutes. Then go back to the same interaction and give your fur-baby another opportunity to make a good choice.

All of these tactics are trying to help establish that you are the puppy’s leader, not just their friend. Long term this helps nip may other behavioural problems in the bud before they start.

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