How to Stop Puppy from Biting?
Training your new puppy can be one of the most enjoyable yet challenging aspects of being a pet parent. There are endless tricks which you can teach your canine companion, but first your pooch should master the basics. Sit, stay, recall and potty training are key skills which every dog needs to learn in order to grow up safely and to learn obedience. Puppy biting can be a difficult, seemingly relentless habit in some dogs while it might barely be apparent in others. Nevertheless, as a new puppy parent you’ll need to learn how to deal with this behavior as puppy nipping can be painful and potential dangerous in the future if it isn’t dealt with before adolescence. In this article we’re going to look at why puppies bite and how to stop a puppy from biting in the future.
Why Do Puppies Bite?
There are several reasons for puppy biting but the simplest and most popular reason is curiosity. As a young pup begins to explore the world, see new sights, smell new smells, and meet new people, their curiosity increases too as they interact with new things. For puppies, it’s only natural to gently bite or nip new things as they feel (or rather, bite) their way through a whole new world.
It’s incredibly important for puppies to bite things, including their owners, while they are young as this teaches them important lessons. Firstly, they are simply testing the boundaries which means they know how to play with you in the future. The pup will learn when they’ve gone too far through training which is an important social skill to have. Some of the boundaries which need to be learned are when, who and where biting is acceptable. This will be learned gradually as each boundary is explored and through consistent training. However, the most important boundary which needs learned is how hard to bite. If a young pup doesn’t learn how to gauge their bite force, they could seriously injure their owner or someone else as a grown dog.
How to Train a Puppy Not to Bite
The “Ouch” technique is arguably the most popular and effective tool for stopping a puppy from biting. It mirrors the puppy’s experience when playing with its littermates which is possibly the reason for it being successful. When a pup is still part of a litter, the puppies will often bite each other as part of their game. When a puppy bites too hard, the receiver will yelp or audibly demonstrate their pain before moving away from its game. This teaches the biter to lessen its force when biting if it wants to keep playing. By copying this behavior almost exactly, pet parents can discourage puppy nipping and teach their precious pups how to behave.
It’s perfectly normal for a pup to lightly nimble at objects, including your hands, while they are growing up. ‘Mouthing’ an object is one of the best ways for a dog to learn what the item is and whether or not they should bite the object in question. Naturally, your pup will want to ‘mouth’ your hand to explore their senses and to get to know you a little bit better. While ‘mouthing’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can rather quickly move from harmless to harmful. Whenever your dog bites too hard and causes you discomfort, say “ouch!” and move away from the pup dramatically. Stay away for around 10 seconds before returning. If your pup immediately bites again when you return, say “ouch!” more dramatically and walk away for longer so they learn that there are consequences for this behavior.
If you walk away from your dog and say “ouch” only to find them chasing you, thinking that it’s part of the game, there’s a quick and simple solution. Put a leash on your pup and secure it to a heavy or immovable object. When you play with your pup in that area and they bite you, say “ouch” and walk away. Having secured them, they’ll learn that you aren’t leaving to be chased but because they’ve breached the boundary.
When this has been successfully learned for hard biting, you’ll need to repeat it again to completely remove all nibling behaviors using either of the previous methods. Just be consistent and patient, after a short while your precious pup will learn that they shouldn’t use their teeth on human skin.
Things to Keep in Mind
There a few things to remember when training your pup not to bite. Firstly, this behavior is perfectly normal and expected so don’t worry when it happens. Secondly, using chew toys, bones, squeeze toys or other toys as a distraction will significantly help you to prevent biting. Whenever your pup starts biting, you can then choose to distract them with toys or to apply the “ouch” technique. It’s also important to remember that when pups are learning new skills, they can become easily confused about their behaviors so don’t engage them in rough playing. Rough play can confuse them during training as the boundary between normal and play behaviors (biting) can become blurred.
Arguably the most important thing to remember whenever you’re teaching a new skill to your pup is to take a break. Training all day every day won’t get you results any quicker. In fact, training too often without breaks has be shown to reverse the desired outcome of training. So, when your pup begins a biting rampage, either distract them, take them outside for walk or put them in their cage to calm down for a moment. This will teach them that biting isn’t acceptable and that there are consequences for their actions.
Now you know why biting is important, how to get a puppy to stop biting, and some useful tips to help you while you teach your canine companion. Don’t worry if your teaching doesn’t work right away, training can take some time and requires lots of patience. However, if you follow the simple step above you’ll have precious pup who doesn’t bite sooner than you can imagine!