How to stop a puppy from biting

When you have a new puppy in the house, life begins to change very quickly. Suddenly, everything you own is vulnerable to being chewed through or at least gnawed on. The carpet, the sofa, the table, the doormats, the door - nothing is safe anymore. Unfortunately, this can also include the very biteable you. So read on to find out some of our top tips on how to stop a puppy from biting fast.

Roughhousing, not rough-mouthing!

In early life, puppies are like babies and like to explore their surroundings by licking and trying to eat everything they can. Unlike babies, they don’t grow out of this behaviour.  So if you're wondering "when should a puppy stop biting", sadly there's no one-size-fits-all answer.  In fact, as puppies grow older, they learn bite inhibition through rough play with their parents or their littermates. If you have a puppy, that ‘pack’ includes you. And if you don’t help your puppy unlearn his toothy behaviour, he’ll grow into an adult who’ll keep biting- hard, so learning some ways to stop a puppy from biting is quite handy.

Puppies also love having a romp. This means that whether it’s play wrestling, snuggling, boisterous hide-and-seek or fight-fetch, the more mock-violent, the more they enjoy it. This is because as puppies, they establish their place in their packs through these mock-fights. When your puppy is playing with you and starts getting too rough, the first thing you should do is stop engaging with them immediately. If you respond with a slap or a hard pat (which is never encouraged), your puppy will assume that you’re just responding in kind to his rough play.

The goal here is to teach your puppy NOT to bite. Therefore, when your puppy bites you or snaps on your arm or finger, refuse to respond or even engage with him till he quiets down and licks you apologetically or approaches you calmly. Here are some of the basic puppy training tips you can begin with.

Chew Toy Or Treat (Not You!)

Find your puppy something that he can bite, in order to redirect his behaviour. Teething is often also a cause for excessive biting. If you remove yourself from the equation, your puppy will direct his excess energy at other things. To engage this, make sure that your puppy has enough chew toys to gnaw on. In fact, you can even carry a chew toy on you, to offer to your puppy as an alternative to your fingers and toes, if he’s ambushing you around the house. A suitable chewy treat can also work well, such as our Gnashers Dental Chews, which also help keep their pearly whites, white - with an active ingredient that reduces tartar build-up by up to 80%.

Another good idea is to play games with your puppy that do not involve such rough play at all, eg. fetch, tug of war, hide and seek, etc. Scheduling regular play dates for your puppy is also a great idea, because it not only helps him socialize with other dogs, but also helps him understand behaviours from doggy elders and peers better. A final reason your pup could be chewy more than normal is if they're hungry, so make sure you're feeding the correct quantity of puppy kibble. Don't forget all brands guidelines vary!

Leave a Yelp Review To Stop A Puppy From Biting

Obviously, it would be nice if puppies could understand what we meant directly. But there are some small cues you can use that they will understand- from their own barky language.

When puppies play together, the pup who gets bitten hard does the same thing, i.e. yelp loudly because he was bitten and it hurts, and sulk and refuse to play. The culprit-biter-puppy also stops playing for a moment. Play resumes in a few moments, but now the biter puppy knows that he’s biting too hard. In a pack, this is how puppies learn how to control how hard they’re nipping. With your pup, you have to teach him. If your puppy doesn’t stop, move away from him, either a few steps, or leave him for a few minutes. Your disapproval of his behaviour should be clear to him.

Alternatively, you can also use a verbal command with the yelp. Something like ‘Stop!’ said loudly will not only help startle the puppy, but he will also start associating that command with unwanted behaviour.

Wholesome, Not Toothsome

If your puppy does not stop biting even when you’re not engaging, or if he bites you very hard, respond by letting out a high pitched yelp, like a dog would. Immediately stop playing with your pup as well, and pull away from him. You can also increase these intervals for longer, such as 10-15 minutes between episodes, so there is no doubt for the puppy that you are pulling away from him because he is biting. The yelping and loud commands will also help him grasp this better.

Make sure that you reward your mouthy pup with pats and strokes when he licks you in a way of apology, or wags his tail and approaches you again to make peace. Your puppy has to learn that you will encourage play. Just not toothy play.

Learning not to bite is unfortunately a behaviour that takes patience to ingrain. Initially, you’ll have to allow your puppy a few nibbles, so that you can start with the harder bites first, and work your way down. Gradually, your puppy will understand that he is not to bite at all.

Whilst you're here, check out our other puppy blogs...

  1. Puppy Training Classes UK
  2. The Puppy Vaccinations Down Low
  3. Puppy Socialisation Checklist
  4. Crate Train Your Puppy with 5 Easy Steps
  5. How to toilet train a Puppy

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