Have you noticed your puppy is particularly interested in nibbling your hands or fingers when playing with you? Trying to nibble your feet or ankles like a little shark? Or maybe you’ve noticed your favorite shoes, clothing, or even your furniture being chewed? There’s a logical reason for this to happen, and steps to prevent this biting business from becoming something more serious. We will walk you through how to stop puppy biting!
Exploring the world
Puppies are naturally curious, and while growing up it is common for them to explore their surroundings with their mouth. It’s a way for them to perceive the world around them!
Think of puppies playing together. You’ll see them jumping, snuffing, nibbling and biting each other, often accompanied by a short growl or yelp – this is how they learn to interact with each other and the limits to some of their actions. At home, these interactions will happen with you, and they’re crucial for your bonding process.
The teething problem
Not only that, there’s also teething to consider. As puppies develop, their deciduous teeth start showing through their gums, which is a somewhat uncomfortable process. This nibbling and chewing behavior may ease that unpleasant sensation… And so they will nibble everything they can find.
These two reasons combined can explain why puppies often try to bite our fingers and our hands when playing with us… And why they like to chew on things they shouldn’t! As this is usually normal in puppy development, it’s also very important to prevent this behavior from transiting into adulthood. A nibble from a puppy at 8 weeks of age feels quite different than when they are 1 year old!
So what can be done to end this unwanted behavior? There are several ways of approaching this, and they all require a positive mindset, time and consistency!
How to stop puppy biting
First things first – you will have to teach your pup that biting is not allowed! Biting inhibition is the process through which we can teach puppies that biting, no matter how gentle, is not the way to go.
The idea, and the main concept regarding how to stop puppy biting, is to associate biting with a non-rewarding experience. For instance, you can make a loud “ow” noise when puppies bite you, and avoid interaction for a short period of time (half-minute, for example). You can turn around, leave the room and return shortly after. Repeating this process when playing will help your pup to understand that biting means “game over” and no reward.
You should not yell or physically reprehend your pup. This will be understood as some sort of response and they may in fact grow to become fearful or aggressive.
If they do not repeat the biting behavior when playing, then they can be rewarded! Either by praise and cuddles, treats or with age-adequate toys for your dog to chew.
Using toys will also help to redirect this behavior, sparing your hands and body parts from getting into trouble… And your furniture from having to be replaced!
Other possible reasons for biting
There are other aspects to consider regarding this behavior. Puppies can cheerfully bite if they are highly energetic, so getting them tired with exercise can be helpful. On the other hand, they may also do it from being overtired or if they’re hungry – in that case, a nap or a meal are key to restoring balance and politeness.
Socialization also plays an important role. Going to puppy parties or puppy class will give your pooch the opportunity to play with other puppies and learn what behaviors are accepted… And how to get along well with other dogs and people.
Well, that’s how to stop puppy biting! In the end, the goal is to make sure your puppy understands that good behaviors are rewarded, and that undesired actions are not. Be patient, it is a process…but it’s a lovely one! At any time, if you feel your puppy is not responding as expected, it’s always advisable to seek professional guidance from vets and qualified trainers.
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