Puppy biting is common but can get out of control if not dealt with early on. It might seem cute when your puppy chews on your finger at 8 weeks old but when they do it with their needle sharp teeth at 5 months you will feel differently!
Puppies explore the world with their mouths so it is your job to show them what is ok to chew and what isn’t.
This blog deals specifically with puppies biting you rather than chewing on objects they shouldn’t. Chewing your shoes or tv cables can be tackled a different way.
Puppies need to learn to be gentle with people (and other dogs) and that it hurts when they bite our soft skin. The ability to control how hard they mouth is known as bite inhibition and it takes time to learn.
Bite inhibition is partly learned from play with other dogs. If they bite too hard the other dog will yelp and let them know that hurt. We can use a similar technique to teach puppies to be gentle with us.
When playing with your puppy- and they bite your hand too hard yelp loudly (don’t shout). Let your hand go limp. This will startle them and let them know they hurt you. Praise and reward your puppy when they stop or if they start to lick you. Start to play again after gently.
If they continue to mouth too hard, try this up to three times in one session. If they are too excitable and not grasping the concept yet you can put them somewhere to calm down (with another toy behind a baby gate). They will start to learn that when they bite too hard, they lose your attention. Don’t scold them at this point as any attention even negative is giving them what they want, and shouting gives more energy into the situation- which will either make your puppy more energetic or become fearful of you.
After a time out when your puppy mouths again yelp, remove your hand and turn away from them for 10-20 seconds and ignore them until they calm down. Praise and reward them for stopping. Restart play again. You want your puppy to learn that gentle play will continue but play stops when they cause pain.
Other things to consider:
1. When your puppy mouths you, replace your arm with a suitable toy so they learn what they can chew on. Puppies do need to chew especially when teething so make sure they have something that they can chew.
2. Look at how you are interacting with your puppy. If you are very vigorous and wrestle with your puppy you are teaching them to be the same. While you want to play with your puppy be mindful that how you interact affects their learning. If you are calm, they will be calm. If you are rough your puppy will learn to be rough.
3. Encourage other play styles. Use tuggy toys, roll balls and encourage your puppy to chase and retrieve.
4. Provide your puppy with plenty of interesting different toys so he has enough to keep him occupied.
5. If your puppy attacks your ankles/feet keep a tuggy toy in your pocket. When they attack you stand still and then replace your ankle with the toy.
6. Give you puppy plenty of opportunities to play with other puppies and older friendly dogs. This is essential for their development and socialisation and provides a perfect environment to burn off some energy.
If you have a puppy aged 7 months or under come and join our puppy play group! Click HERE for details