So, you’ve got a cute new family member? I bet you have very quickly discovered that he or she has needle-sharp teeth and they bite!
Firstly let’s start by saying it’s normal for a puppy to bite, it’s their way of discovering new things, learning boundaries and investigating objects. It’s all part of their growing up process as a puppy.
They spend a lot of time playing and chewing objects, however, when puppies play with people, they often bite, chew and mouth on people’s hands, limbs and clothing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learnt the bite inhibition means that he or she doesn’t recognise the sensitivity of human skin, and so he bites too hard, whilst in play. This kind of behaviour to them is fun, and their way of playing and investigating. Although to us, biting is known as a way to hurt each other.
When a puppy bites you, it doesn’t hurt, but to a small child, or an older person, it could do some damage because after all, their teeth are razor-sharp. Just like you have discovered, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
These techniques below will help you set the boundaries whilst they are young, they need clear leadership from their owners, just like we would from our parents. How you respond now to puppy biting will shape them for their future.
Why are puppies teeth razor-sharp?
Puppies enter this world without any teeth like us humans. They begin to get the razor-sharp teeth from three weeks onwards and have a full set by six weeks. Also, known as “needle teeth”. There are two possible reasons why they are so sharp.
- Dog’s are carnivores they need teeth when trying their first samples of meat. A Puppy’s bite isn’t as strong as an adult dogs bite, so having razor-sharp teeth plays a vital role instead whilst eating.
- The other possibility is weaning off their mother’s milk and helping in the period to aid puppies to understand the biting boundaries “Bite inhibition” to moderate their bite.
Why do they bite us?
It’s all fun and game’s to them, they learn through their mouths. Unlike us, humans, we consider biting is to harm someone. It’s entirely different for puppies when growing up. They are just learning their boundaries. Dogs do also bite out to hurt if threatened, but this is an altogether different type of bite subject. Most importantly, they need to stop biting you and your clothing, and there are a few techniques I can teach you to accomplish this. The end game is for you to control your puppy from doing it.
The most crucial matter is to teach your puppy that people have sensitive skin, and you want to teach your puppy to play gently, rather than not at all.
Training techniques on how to stop a puppy biting
The bite inhibition technique
Bite inhibition means your dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. Sometimes referred to as a soft mouth, it is a behaviour in carnivorans where your dog learns their bite strength boundaries, and what does and doesn’t hurt their playmate. When you bring your puppy home, they are generally eight weeks old, and they are still in the process of training and learning. Puppies will learn bite inhibition during play with other puppies before they leave the family home. If you have ever watched puppies play, you will notice now, and then the victim of the forceful bite will yelp out, this then usually stops the play. A moment later they are back to being best friends again and playfighting but with the new sense of the bite strength. A puppy can also learn bite inhibition from you.
How to implement the bite inhibition technique
Whilst playing with your puppy, let him mouth on your hands, keep playing with him or her until the bite strengthens, and when it does give a loud ouch. Let your hand go limp; this is very important. The technique is much more effective to let your hands go limp so that they aren’t much fun to play with. Usually, your puppy should understand that they have hurt you and back away momentarily. Your puppy will then resume playtime again, knowing that the strength of the bite they gave you was too hard. You may need to repeat this over and over. Your patience will play a vital role. If throughout the process your puppy licks you, make sure you praise them using simple words, “good boy” or “good girl” is perfect. If after 3 to 5 attempts, it fails, and your puppy is still biting too hard. It’s time for a time out and end the playtime. With this bite inhibition training, and the aim is that your dog can play with you and others whilst controlling the pressure in which he bites.
The toy or chew bone technique
The simple toy or chew bone technique is to distract your puppy from nipping your hands or toes using a toy or a chew bone for a diversion. This is the ideal technique that works perfectly if your puppy tends to pull on loose clothing or even hair.
How to implement the toy or chew technique
When your puppy tries to bite on your fingers and toes, you need to substitute a toy or chew bone immediately. Like us, dogs also go through a teething stage, and when they are mouthing, they need to chew. So by redirecting your puppy to a toy or chew each time, he will start to seek this out and look for a toy when your puppy feels like mouthing.
Finding it hard to move without your dog pulling on your trouser bottoms? The technique also works very well in this situation. Just include a stop and pause to the method. Stop, pause, distract and slowly move on eventually you won’t need to distract your puppy since he or she isn’t getting much of a response from you, and finally you will be able to walk freely about the house.
Make sure you have a good selection of toys on hand.
The high pitched yelp technique
The ultimate yelp, it’s relatively similar to the bite inhibition but a lot firmer and with a timeout period each time. You should see results much quicker. This technique best suits larger dog breed’s, young adults or if you want to abolish any form of biting.
How to implement the high pitched yelp technique
For this, to work, you need to be firm but fair. The minute your puppy bites you, give a very loud high-pitched yelp. You then walk away, if your puppy is on your lap, place them gently on the floor, don’t be angry the yelp says it all. Walk away for one minute if you can leave the room even better. Just make sure that the place is puppy proof. If you can’t leave the room, stand up and keep turning your back to your puppy. If you have an area to tie him by a leash, this will also work. Remember only for one minute, no more, no less. Make sure you stick with the process to avoid any confusion. Your puppy will soon learn that if he bites you, regardless if it’s soft or not, they won’t get to spend any time with you. Be patient, but firm!
When to use the ultimate high pitched yelp technique
Use the ultimate high pitch when you do not want even the softest of biting. Well suited to larger dog breeds and young adults. When all else fails, yelp!
Your dog mouthing is normal behaviour, be patient and understanding!
What to avoid
- Don’t avoid playing with your puppy altogether. They need playtime and interaction with you.
- Don’t wind your puppy up, mostly play slapping the sides of his face, this will encourage him to bite at your hands, and all your hard work would be for nothing.
- Getting angry with your puppy, try to stay as calm and patient as you can.
- Avoid hitting puppies for playful mouthing can cause them to bite harder and encourage more problems for you.
- Tapping your puppy on the nose, this doesn’t work and is cruel
When not to use the techniques
Just like children puppies have temper tantrums, they can be hard to spot in your puppy. The telltale signs are firm or frozen body, exposing his or her teeth is a clear indication that they are having a tantrum. If you notice this do not yelp as this is a lot more serious than the usual mouthing that they do. Instead, hold your puppy firm, but not too firm, keep calm, unemotional and wait for it to pass, should only be around 30 seconds. Then release them and give them some space. It is sporadic for a puppy to get aggressive, but there can be lots of different factors involved as to why they are fierce. Seek further help if you are concerned about your puppy’s behaviour they should be assessed by a professional so that they can guide you through an effective treatment plan for them.
Playing and socialising with other dogs.
Playing and socialising with other dogs is also vital for your puppy’s development. If he expels a lot of his energy playing with other puppies, he’ll feel less motivated to play roughly with you. There are plenty of local groups in your area for puppies to attend meet up sessions. “If fully vaccinated”.
Love your puppy, enjoy their company and give them plenty of kisses, cuddles and reward them at the right time. Be kind and calm and have the patience of a saint. Check this article for signs that your dog loves you back. Remember to provide a selection of exciting toys.
With the help of these three simple techniques, you can stop your puppy from biting you and anyone else they come into contact with!
I hope you have learnt how to get a puppy to stop biting, and any success stories are welcome.
Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.