Did you recently add a puppy to your home?
If so, you have joined one of the 129.8 million households that have a furry companion. Puppies are cute, but when those sharp puppy teeth destroy or bite your skin, you may not think they are so cute anymore. Puppy biting is a bad habit that you will want to curtail before they become an adult dog.
Training your puppy not to bite at this age is key to ensuring good behavior throughout their lives. Also, their bites might not be so harmless when they get bigger!
Does your new puppy constantly bite your furniture, clothes, and maybe even you? If so, you’re likely wondering how to stop your puppy from biting.
Below are some tips you can try at home to help stop a biting puppy.
5 Ways to Stop a Puppy From Biting
This article outlines five strategies to discourage biting behavior in puppies, helping owners to establish boundaries and teach their furry friends good manners.
1. Bite Inhibition
The first step to stopping puppies from biting is to react each time your puppy bites. Puppies play by nipping each other – it’s only natural. They do the same when they get overexcited around their owners.
A puppy doesn’t realize that its bite hurts. This is why you need to show them it does. When your puppy bites you, you must say “ow,” “no,” or “ouch” in a firm voice. Your pup isn’t trying to hurt you, after all, it is just trying to play. So if it discovers that its behavior is harmful, it will want to stop biting you.
The puppy will learn bite inhibition this way. After all, it has no idea that this is wrong.
This is the same principle as when puppies play. If a puppy bites another too hard, you will hear a yelp, and that puppy will usually stop playing. This is how puppies learn to be gentle with each other.
2. Use of Taste Deterrents
You can also make a puppy second guess biting or chewing by using taste deterrents. You can make these with simple ingredients like white vinegar or bitter sprays, such as the Rocco & Roxie No Chew Extreme Bitter Spray for Dogs from Amazon or local pet stores. Don’t use any toxic chemicals of course.
Spray the taste deterrents on your clothes or body where the puppy bites. If the puppy decides to nip, stop movement and see how it reacts. When the puppy stops biting, be sure to praise your dog and then play again. These taste deterrents can be a great supplement to help you train your puppy and stop this behavior once and for all.
Puppies are exploring their environment and like to use their teeth to help them discover new things. Make sure your house is filled with safe and fun chew toys. Be sure you find toys that your puppy won’t destroy quickly like plastic or rubber toys. If you fill your house with things that are okay for your puppy to bite, they can learn to chew these things instead of biting.
Bones are another good toy to have around your house. There are several brands of bones that are almost indestructible. When your puppy tries to gnaw on your hand or toes, distract the puppy by giving it a toy or edible dog chew instead.
Related: New Puppy Checklist: Bringing Home Your Large Breed
You can also stimulate your dog and distract it from biting by hiding treats inside of toys. It will have to figure out how to earn its reward.
If your puppy bites your hand when you pet it, try giving your puppy a treat from the other hand. This will encourage your puppy to get used to being petted and not biting.
You can also help distract your puppy by playing non-contact forms of play like tug-of-war or fetch. If your puppy wants to nip, redirect him with a tug toy each time. Soon, your puppy will want to play tug-of-war or fetch instead of biting you.
These distractions are all great alternatives, as they offer your puppy healthy alternatives to biting that they will still enjoy. They will learn to replace their bad behavior with positive behavior that they will also enjoy. It truly is a win-win for dog owners and their pup!
4. Play with Other Dogs
You should socialize your puppy with other puppies and dogs. It helps your puppy develop and use up his energy by playing with other dogs. He will learn when he bites too hard from the other dogs because they will yelp. Dogs can communicate with each other better than you after all, so it might be best to learn from a fellow dog that their bite is harmful.
You can also put your dog in a puppy training class to learn new skills and play with other puppies. He will have supervised playtime and will get worn out! Puppies need a lot of exercise! Also, the course will teach him that this behavior is not acceptable. Try to find a course that is run by a professional dog trainer.
You can also redirect your puppy not to bite. If your puppy goes to bite, pull your hand away before contact. Then give your dog a treat or toy to gnaw on. This will help show your puppy what is and what isn’t acceptable to bite.
Another popular method is a puppy timeout. If you feel your puppy bite or make contact with skin, make your puppy go into a quiet area. You should have a leash on your puppy when you are practicing this training to lead your puppy out of the room and tie him for a brief timeout.
Your puppy will not enjoy being left alone like this, and will hopefully quickly learn that biting will lead to this undesirable result.
Other Ways to Stop Puppies from Biting
Puppies like to bite when something is by its mouth. Avoid waving your fingers or toes in front of your dog. You are encouraging your puppy to bite.
Play with your puppy. It helps you build a bond as a family. You want your puppy to play – you just need to teach it to play gently. Your puppy needs to know that just because it can’t bite doesn’t mean it can’t play. Show your puppy that it can still have a lot of fun without biting, and it will quickly learn what is and what isn’t acceptable during play-time.
Don’t hit or slap your puppy when it nips. This can encourage her to bite even harder and could make her play more aggressively. Physical punishment will make your puppy afraid of you, which is certainly not what you want from your dog.
Remember, you need to be patient and understanding with your puppy. Playful mouthing or nipping is a normal behavior for all puppies, so understand that it is not trying to harm you, and you simply have to work to deter it from this normal behavior. Your puppy is just trying to show affection after all, and if it learns this behavior is bad, it will likely want to stop biting as much as you want it to!
Puppy “Temper Tantrums”
Puppies can have temper tantrums just like toddlers. These tantrums happen when you make the puppy do something it doesn’t want to do.
When your puppy has a tantrum, its body will look more stiff or frozen. She may even growl or show her teeth.
If your puppy starts to throw a tantrum, stay calm and don’t react. Your puppy might actually intensify aggressive behavior if you react even if you say “ouch.”
Don’t hurt your puppy. Just hold him firmly without much constriction until he stops struggling. If this begins to happen regularly, you may want to get some professional help.
Some puppies are more difficult than others, but often by being firm and showing him that this tantrum won’t achieve their desired result, you can prevent this behavior over time.
Getting Help for Stopping Puppy Biting
If you feel your puppy’s mouthing is becoming more aggressive, you may want to talk to a dog trainer for advice. You can search for area Certified Professional Dog Trainers or ask around for referrals. Your vet is a good source to find help.
A professional dog trainer will often know better than you how to remedy the situation, so don’t be ashamed to seek out help. Training a puppy is often as new an experience for you as it is for the puppy, after all!
Be sure you don’t wait too long if you think your dog is starting to get aggressive. The longer you wait will make it harder to break. Make sure that the biting doesn’t become a habit.
Summing Up Our Tips on Controlling a Biting Puppy
Remember, biting is a totally natural thing for a new puppy. Biting is often how they instinctively try to play with you, and most of the time they are just trying to show affection. So don’t get frustrated, and remember that puppies are very willing to learn. With work, routine, and especially with patience, you can teach them what behavior is and isn’t acceptable.
We hope these tips have helped you gain some clarity on why your puppy is behaving how they are and also given you some helpful tips on how to control and end this behavior.
How did these tips work for you? Any more tips you would give to first-time owners? Let us know in the comments!
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
Apart from writing on Canine Weekly, I share my views on Twitter and Linkedin.