How to Stop a Puppy From Biting

Bringing a new puppy home means you have some work ahead of you. In the first 120 days of puppyhood — just four months — you have to ensure you take the time to mold the puppy into the kind of family pet you want. This time period is when it’s the most influenced by your instruction.

Why Do Puppies Bite?

In the wild, a adult dog uses its mouth to interact with the world. This doesn’t change just because the dog lives in your home; it still has natural instincts to deal with. Puppies try to learn about their surroundings by mouthing objects to feel their texture.

Another reason some puppies bite is because they’re teething. This is similar to the discomfort of teething in human babies. The puppy’s sore gums are bothering them as the puppy teeth break through, so they chew to stop the itch and discomfort.

While it isn’t very common, some puppies will bite as a defense mechanism. They will likely only do this when they’re provoked, so be sure to watch for provocation if you notice this occurring.

Ascertaining the underlying cause of the biting is imperative to correct the action. You’ll likely need a variety of methods to try to correct it. This may include preventive measures, corrective actions and positive reinforcement. Seeing what works for your puppy will show you what types of training it responds to.

How Can You Correct a Nipping Puppy?

There are several ways you might be able to correct a puppy that’s nipping. It isn’t likely that you’ll be able to stop the little nips. Instead, you should focus on teaching your new puppy that it shouldn’t bite down hard.

In the wild, the puppy’s mother or littermates will yelp loudly to let the puppy know when it’s gone too far with a bite. You can mimic this yelping by making a loud, high-pitched noise, such as “ow!” to alert the puppy to the pain caused by its sharp teeth.

Sometimes, puppies bite when they’re overly excited. This can be corrected by taking the puppy outside and letting it play. You can use this time as a potty break for the puppy as well.

It’s also possible that the biting is to let you know something’s wrong. Some puppies get nippy when they’re hungry or thirsty, so offer the dog food and water to determine if this is the issue.

Rough play with a puppy may also encourage puppy biting behaviors. It’s important for you to have a positive relationship with your puppy, but during the training phase, you need to show the dog what’s appropriate. This means you may have to stop playing if you see that some types of play are causing your puppy to become too excited and bite. Switch to gentle play to help the puppy calm itself down.

Can Toys Help Prevent Biting?

Toys can help a puppy that’s trying to learn. You can offer suitable chew toys to a puppy if it’s trying to chew on the furniture or other items. Try to offer toys with varying textures and sizes. These can turn the puppy’s attention to exploring them instead of chewing on forbidden items.

It’s a good idea to leave the toys around the house for the puppy so it can chew on them whenever it feels the urge. This can help to keep a new puppy occupied so it doesn’t get into trouble.

An important thing to remember when teaching your puppy which items it’s allowed to chew on: If your dog is chewing on something you don’t want it to, don’t try to pull that item away from it. In canine language, that makes the pup think it should chew on the item more. It may also see your actions as trying to play a fun game of tug-of-war with the item, which could negate your efforts to teach the puppy appropriate behaviors.

A better choice is redirection: Offer the pup a teething toy to gain its attention while you remove the item it shouldn’t chew on.

You may have to try a variety of chew toys for the puppy, but remember you should only offer safe puppy toys. Some items can be choking hazards for puppies, so be selective in what you use. Items that offer some mental stimulation, such as toys that can hold small treats, may keep the dog occupied longer, and the treats serve as an additional positive reinforcement.

When Do You Need to Seek Assistance?

If your puppy is still biting and nippy by the time it’s six months old, you may need to consult a  dog trainer who has experience in this type of matter. A puppy trainer may be able to help you determine the root cause of the biting and suggest a solution that helps.

In most cases, you’ll be able to correct this natural behavior, with a bit of consistency on your part. You’ll have to determine exactly what works for your puppy and focus on that throughout the training. If you see your furry companion start to bite again, you’ll have to continue using methods of correction that you know work.

While you’ll have a long time to reinforce the behaviors you want your puppy to exhibit, those first four months are the most critical. Once your puppy has the foundation down, you can start to work on other training components while you continue to reinforce the initial training.

2024-05-22T14:34:00-04:00April 8th, 2024|

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