How To Stop A Puppy From Biting: Tackle It Sooner Rather Than Later
Love bites are cute from a palm-sized puppy. But if your dog grows up thinking that biting is acceptable, it could lead to injury and lawsuits — and potentially end the life of your pet. No matter how sweet little nibbles may seem, it’s important to get your puppy out of the biting habit as soon as possible.
But how do you train a young and curious puppy not to nip?
Why Do Puppies Bite?
Puppies are playful and curious. As you may have noticed, they often learn about things by putting them in their mouths. From the TV remote to your favorite pair of shoes, nothing is sacred territory for a teething puppy.
Some of this is similar to human teething; biting relieves some of the pain. Other times, biting is about discovering something new — or your puppy just wants to play.
Biting starts early in life, but if it doesn’t stop, it can become a major problem.
When a group of puppies play together, biting is part of the territory. When a puppy bites their littermate too hard, the other puppy will yelp and stop playing. This is how puppies learn to curb their urge to bite, or at least restrain themselves from clamping down with full force. You can train them not to bite with a similar technique.
How To Stop A Puppy From Biting
Don’t bother attempting to use any techniques that might work on an older, calmer dog on a young pup. During the first few months of your puppy’s life, they will instinctively respond far better to doggy discipline — aka how they would be treated in a litter by their mom.
A new dog-mom is also subjected to annoying bites from her litter. If you’ve ever watched a dog with her litter, you’ll notice that if she’s bitten too hard, she’ll let out a dramatic yelp, and then storm away from the puppy in question. This behavior teaches puppies how to restrain themselves while playing, because rough play leads to no play. Following Mama Pooch’s lead will work for you, too.
- Play with your puppy as normal.
- When your puppy bites (with teeth), either yelp or say “OW/NO/OFF” loudly and immediately. Exaggerate your reaction so your puppy gets the message
- Make your hand (or wherever the puppy has bitten) go limp
- Stop playing with your puppy, and ignore them for 30-60 seconds
- Resume playing
- If your puppy bites again, repeat process
- If your puppy bites more than three times in 15 minutes, put your puppy on a time-out. You can do this by putting them back in their crate or leaving the room for a short amount of time. Make sure the room is safe for them before leaving
Related: How To Puppy-Proof Your Home
- Be patient!
- Use positive reinforcement
- Reward good behaviours with treats and/or praise
- Keep plenty of chew toys around
- Remember that puppies have short memories, and staying mad won’t benefit anyone
- Use physical punishments
- Withhold play
- Get frustrated
Some dog owners prefer to use taste deterrents to ward off a puppy’s bites. However, dogs are weird. Some will absolutely hate that taste-deterrent, as planned — and others will seem to love it.
There are several taste deterrent solutions available in pet stores and online. Dogs typically dislike bitter tastes, and you can create your own taste deterrent at home by using white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. Add it to a spray bottle and spray it onto anything that may end up in your puppy’s mouth.
If you have a puppy who seems to love bitter tastes, try using a spicy solution instead.
Here are some of the most popular solutions:
- Grannick’s Bitter Apple Dog Chew Deterrent
- ChewFix Extra Bitter Spray
- Bitter Lime Pump Spray
- Nature’s Miracle No Chew Spray
- Hot sauce! Heavily diluted in water.
It’s very important to socialize your puppy from a young age. Puppies should be frequently exposed to people and other dogs in order to learn how to interact with others. If a puppy isn’t exposed to people and other animals, they may react with fear later in life. Combined with biting behaviours, this could lead to disaster.
Here’s a quick guide to puppy socialization 101:
Pass The Puppy
This game is a great way to socialize your puppy and make you the most popular person in your squad. Ask your friends to come over, and sit in a circle. Pass your puppy from person to person along with a bag of treats. Encourage each person to gently touch a part of your puppy (ears, nose, paws, etc.). After touching the puppy, dish out a reward in the form of a treat. Your puppy will associate being petted by strangers with something nice!
Invite Chill Doggos Over
If you have friends with kind, gentle dogs, invite them over to meet your puppy. Try and keep sizes in mind. If you have a tiny Pekingese puppy, maybe don’t invite over a Great Dane as your first guest.
All early socialization experiences should be positive, not negative. If you don’t know any other local dogs, most cities have puppy socialization classes. Ask your vet or search online to discover local groups near you!
When Do Puppies Stop Teething?
Puppies begin teething at 3 weeks old, and they’ll want to chew on everything while their first set of teeth come through. Teething is painful! Make sure you have plenty of chew-resistant rubber toys on hand to give to a teething pup in exchange for your couch/shoes/phone charger/literally anything.
The first seven months are going to be ruff, toothily speaking. But after seven months, their adult teeth will have come in, and they can be weaned off chewing through the world.
Have you successfully trained your puppy to stop biting? Tell us about it in the comment section below!