How to Stop Puppy Biting using the Redirect Method


In the video above, I am demonstrating the Redirect Method to resolve playbiting

Redirecting the puppy from biting your hand to an appropriate toy shows the puppy that you want to play and interact with them, but not in a way that includes mouthing 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.


Below, I share with you the significant difference between what I call ProActive  Redirecting and ReActive Redirecting

(The Video Demonstration is an Example of what I call ReActive Redirecting)


Proactive Redirecting is my preferred choice in method with biting puppies.  Proactive redirecting involves knowing your puppy well and predicting when they are going to be in a “biting mood”. When your puppy has a lot of energy, this is the perfect time to start directing them to toys and chew objects before the biting occurs. Toys can be a fun way for the puppy and owner to interact because you can animate the toy object which puppies find highly attractive. The best two ways to animate a toy are either to:

  1. Tie the toy on a string- Tying a toy on a string gives you complete control over the toy and you can make the toy imitate “prey”. Toys bouncing around on the ground can be very attractive to many dogs because it resembles other animals moving across the ground. The toy on the string also allows you to play tug with the toy while keeping your hands away from the puppy’s mouth which helps deter them from deciding to start biting your hand rather than the toy.
  2. Throw the toy- Throwing a toy is a great way to burn off energy in an exuberant puppy. A tip you will probably find helpful is to use multiple toys. Toss one toy for the puppy and then show the puppy you have the other toy. This is a great way to play for puppies who love to chase and grab the toy but want to take it somewhere else instead of bringing it back to you.

Reactive Redirecting- In the video above, you see me using a reactive approach to the Play Biting. I rarely use this approach, but I wanted to demonstrate a puppy biting me multiple times so you can see how the reactive approach works. Ordinarily I would not let the biting to continue as long as it does in the video before redirecting it. The redirect should occur on the first time the puppy bites.

Here are 3 Frequently Asked Questions that I hear regarding this method

1) But my dog bites my Hand Instead of the toy

  • If this occurs, I would first recommend that you attach the toy to a string to place distance between your hand and the toy.  If that doesn’t help, change to a different type of toy to see if that sparks the puppy’s interest.
  • If your puppy plays with the toy for a short period of time and then chooses to bite your hands, you should instantly give the puppy a time out using the time out method.
  • If your puppy does not like any toys, you will want to bring out some food treats and teach other commands to interact with your puppy in a more positive way. Start practicing Sits, Leave its, Recalls, and Stays.

2) But my dog doesn’t like the toy?

  • Toys can become boring fast with puppies. You may need to experiment with a different type of toy or purchase a new one.
  • A knotted up old dish towel is often all you need for a game of tug.

3) But if I give the toy after they bite me, am I rewarding the biting?

  • This is where the reactive method requires a little skill from the handler. I usually don’t have a problem with the puppy making this association because I am overly dramatic with my voice in using the marker word: “No, Ouch,etc”.  This acts as an interrupter to the biting behavior that I am looking to stop. If you watch the video, there is a distinct pause between my marker word and the moment I pull out the toy. Your “No, or Ouch” should be powerful enough or loud enough to stop the behavior for a couple of seconds. Once the biting stops, then you bring the toy out. 


Published on July 23, 2017

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