Any new puppy owner knows puppy biting is a fairly common behavior. Many puppies will chew toys, clothes or anything they can get their teeth on. Sometimes they’ll even nip at people’s hands and arms. While this behavior may seem harmless when a puppy is young, it can become problematic as it grows. Over time, those puppy bites can start to hurt. Let’s go over some reasons a puppy may bite and how you can stop it.
Reasons Behind Puppy Biting
Wondering why your puppy seems to nip everything it comes across? Here are some top reasons puppies bite.
For many puppies, biting and chewing is a way to investigate objects, people or other dogs. Generally, this type of biting is gentle and considered normal behavior in young puppies. However, if left unaddressed, your puppy may not realize the power of its own teeth and start to bite hard.
Between the ages of two weeks and around 10 weeks, most puppies undergo a process called teething, during which new teeth come in. This major change is accompanied by symptoms like drooling, swollen gums and, of course, biting. Chewing on random objects can help ease any discomfort.
Lots of puppies bite as part of their regular play regimen. This biting behavior can be encouraged by certain forms of play (such as tug of war). Although this isn’t a sign of aggressive behavior, it can escalate if the puppy doesn’t know any better.
Just like humans, puppies become cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. Being tired can lead to unwanted behaviors, including yelping, ignoring commands and biting. To confirm that sleepiness isn’t the reason behind your puppy’s biting, make sure your puppy is getting enough sleep. On average, puppies sleep anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a day.
In the worst-case scenario, biting is a form of aggression. To tell if a biting puppy is angry, look for signs like a stiff body, growling or exposed teeth. If you suspect your puppy is being aggressive, it’s important to try to resolve the problem immediately. The last thing you want is for your sweet puppy to grow into an aggressive adult.
How Do I Stop My Puppy From Biting?
If your puppy is just nipping or mouthing, it’s likely it’ll grow out of this behavior as time progresses. However, if it continues to nip after about five months of age or is biting hard, it’s time to be proactive. Here are some ways you can teach your puppy to stop biting.
Teach Puppy Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is a dog’s ability to control how hard it bites. If a puppy doesn’t realize the forcefulness of its own bite, it may unintentionally bite down hard and hurt humans or other animals. Most dogs learn bite inhibition through socialization with other puppies. You can achieve this by scheduling a puppy play date with a friend or even visiting a local dog park. However, before going to a public place, ensure only vaccinated adult dogs and puppies are allowed in. Being around unvaccinated dogs can expose your pet to canine diseases.
Use Teething Toys
If your puppy is constantly nipping at your arms and hands, direct its attention to something else (such as a chew toy). Make sure the toy is strong enough to withstand its bites; for example, if your puppy is shredding toys, you may need to supply it with rubber or plastic ones. If your puppy continues to nip at human skin, act as if you’re in pain by loudly yelping. As long as your puppy isn’t acting aggressively, it’ll back off once it realizes it’s hurt you.
Avoid Rough Play
As mentioned earlier, certain types of play can encourage your dog to bite. Here are some games you should try to avoid:
- Tug of war
- Keep-away games
If you notice your puppy is trying to play rough, distract it with something more relaxing. This could include teaching it a new trick, going for a walk or playing fetch. It’s also a good idea to keep some puzzle toys on hand — these are designed to keep dogs engaged by stimulating their minds.
Use Crate Training and Positive Reinforcement
Many dog owners use crate training to teach their puppy which behaviors are (and aren’t) acceptable. First, you’ll need to get a crate — it should provide just enough room for your puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down. Then, whenever your puppy exhibits unwanted behaviors (such as biting), you can send it to the crate. Let it out of the crate and give it a treat once it calms down. Over time, your puppy will start to associate biting with the crate. It’ll also realize that being calm and well-behaved results in rewards, which will encourage it to maintain good behavior.
Invest in Training
In some cases, biting can be discouraged through a few, simple at-home tricks. However, if your puppy is throwing tantrums or acting aggressively, things like toys and inhibition training may not do the trick. If it seems like your puppy’s biting isn’t getting any better, it might be time to consult a professional, such as The Dog Wizard. Our team offers both puppy classes and private training sessions. No matter which one you select, you’ll gain access to hard-working, passionate dog trainers who are experienced in resolving the following issues:
- Play biting
- Aggression rehab
- Separation anxiety
Whether your dog is biting hard due to a lack of inhibitions or aggression, you can trust our team to get to the root of the problem. Our professional dog trainers work closely with each puppy to understand its unique quirks and develop a training regimen designed specifically for its needs. Find a trainer today to get started!