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7 Tips to Stop Puppy Biting

Puppy teeth are sharp, really sharp. Those little needles help compensate for the lack of bite force that puppies have compared to adult dogs. Their teeth do however have plenty of force to cause wounds to your hands and arms. Some puppies will bite harder and more frequently than others, but it is important to understand that biting is a normal behavior that the majority of puppies display.

Puppies bite each other frequently during play and learn valuable social lessons because of it. Teaching your puppy how to use its mouth appropriately is one of the most important lessons that you can teach them. Your puppy’s biting and mouthing is generally caused by your puppy wanting to play with you as they would another dog or puppy. 

Begin implementing the following tips to stop the biting. It is important to note that consistency on your part is the single most important action to decrease play biting

1) Use the Redirect Method- Redirecting the puppy from your hand to an appropriate toy shows them that you want to play, but not in a way that includes biting your hands. As soon as your puppy bites you (Timing is crucial) you should yell “Ouch” or “No”. It should be dramatic enough to stop the biting but should not scare the puppy. As soon as the puppy stops biting, give them a toy or toss a toy for them.

For Additional Information on this method, check out my post on:How to Stop Play Biting using the Redirect Method

 

2) Supply Ample Chew Toys- The more interesting chew toys you provide your puppy, the less the puppy will attempt to chew on your hands. Keep plenty on hand and it will be helpful if you rotate the toys. For example, if you have 9 toys, leave 3 out for a couple of days and then put those 3 away. Now bring out a new set of 3. This will help keep the toys novel and interesting. Click Here for my 12 favorite dog chew toys

3) Implement a Time Out- Time outs work very well for some puppies. They key to implementing a time out is your timing has to be exact. You can execute a time out by marking the behavior at the exact moment and then immediately implementing the time out. The time out location should either be in a play pen or to a tether (A rope or leash attached to a heavy piece of furniture and to the puppy’s collar) that is already set up. Here is an example of the steps:

  1. Puppy bites your fingers
  2. Immediately yell “OUCH” or “NO”
  3. Quickly take the puppy to the play pen or the tether station
  4. Ignore the puppy for a couple of minutes and then take the puppy out of the time out
  5. If the puppy bites again, you will return them immediately to the time out area
  6. If the puppy is full of energy, you will want to either give them a chew toy, take them on a walk, or have a fun training session
  • Time outs will take time before they have the effect of decreasing the biting, because it will take multiple trials for the puppy to learn exactly what is causing the time out.  Stay consistent and be persistent.

Here is a more detailed article describing how to implement the time out using the "Ouch Method"

4) Use a Noise Maker- A noise maker can be used to interrupt the behavior immediately. One noise maker that you can easily make is to take an empty 12 ounce soda can and put 30 pennies inside. Tape up the top.  Hold the can behind your back and if the puppy mouths your hand or pants leg, say “Off” or “No” and then shake the can once or twice. This will startle the puppy causing them to stop biting. You should stop shaking the can immediately when the puppy stops biting.

5) Tether technique- This is very similar to the time out except that it works in reverse. This technique is very helpful if there are young children in the home as they can use this technique with some direction from an adult. Here is how it works:

  1. Place puppy on a tether(A rope or leash attached to a heavy piece of furniture and to the puppy’s collar)
  2. Interact with the puppy by petting or playing with a toy
  3. As soon as the puppy bites, yell “Ouch” and then immediately walk away
  4. The tether will keep the puppy from being able to follow you which creates the time out
  5. Stay away for a couple of minutes and then interact with the puppy again
  6. Repeat the walk away if the puppy bites again

6) Avoid Rough Play- You or someone in your house hold may find it fun to rough house with the puppy by using your hands in order to get them excited. Many puppy and dogs enjoy this type of play, but it can lead to excessive mouthing and biting. Humans often interact with each other by play wrestling and it is often carried over to how we interact with our dogs. The problem arises when the dog follows our lead and uses their mouth to return the play just as they would with another dog. You should not expect a puppy to learn to play in this manner without using their mouth. It will be more appropriate to interact with your puppy with toys so that you can direct the puppy’s mouth to more appropriate objects rather than your hands.

7) Provide Exercise – The more exercise you can provide your puppy, the less play biting your will experience. If your puppy is in one of the mouthy moods, it is a good indication that you should take them on walk or play a game with them such as fetch or tug. If your puppy is full of energy and you are not willing or able to play with them, it will be best if you direct them to something to chew on or put them in a crate or play pen with a toy.

Summary
Follow these tips and be consistent with your feedback to your puppy. If you have not owned a puppy before or have a new puppy that is much more "mouthy" than your last, rest assured that the biting will go away on its own in time as your puppy matures. However, if you incorporate all of the exercises above, you should see dramatic improvement within a couple of weeks.

Published on Sep 20, 2014

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