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.
Why do puppies bite?
Puppies bite as part of their natural behavior and development. There are several reasons why puppies engage in biting behaviors:
Exploration and Teething: Puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them, similar to how human infants use their hands. When they're teething, biting helps relieve the discomfort of new teeth pushing through their gums.
Play and Socialization: Puppies often use their mouths during play as a way to interact and learn social cues with littermates and humans. They might nip or bite gently as a form of play, but they need to be taught what is acceptable and what's not.
Communication: Puppies may bite or nip to communicate their needs or to get attention. This behavior can be their way of asking for something, such as food, playtime, or attention.
Stress or Anxiety: Puppies might resort to biting if they are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. This behavior could manifest as a coping mechanism in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations.
So, don't stress, biting is a part of nearly all puppies daily lives, and is quite a natural and normal behaviour.
When do puppies stop biting?
Whilst it might be normal, there's no denying it can get a little annoying or even painful, so you likely want to know when they'll stop. As every pup and their environment is so different, there isn't really a one-size-fits-all answer. One of the main ways puppies learn bite inhibition is through rough play with their parents or their littermates. So if you're your puppies ‘pack’, then you play a vital role in helping them unlearn this toothy behaviour. And if you don’t, they'll grow into an adult who’ll keep biting- hard, so learning some ways to stop a puppy from biting is quite handy.
With the right training and support however, you should see the biting die down when they're around 3-5 months.
Here are some of the basic puppy training tips you can begin with:
1. 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.
2. 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.
Along with the yelp review, you can also immediately stop playing with your pup when they bite you. You can also increase these "off-time" intervals if they persist, 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. Combined with the yelping and loud commands they should get the hint.
4. Positive Reinforcement
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. You can also use healthy puppy training treats for an extra high value reward.
Your puppy has to learn that you will encourage play. Just not toothy play.
5. Keep Still!
Often your immediate reaction when a puppy bites you is to pull away abruptly. However, to your puppy, this just looks like another part of the game, so try to stay still and not wriggle. Easier said than done when you have a puppy clamped to your toe, we know.
Learning not to bite is unfortunately a behaviour that takes patience to ingrain. However, equipped with our top tips, we're confident that over time your puppy will understand that there are better things in life than to bite.