Playfull puppies in a yellow container.You may be asking yourself, “How can such an adorable puppy have such needle-sharp teeth?” Any new puppy owner can attest to the frustrations of young puppy biting. You, as a new dog owner, may be feeling discouraged by all that is required to raise a happy, healthy, obedient companion, especially when the little bugger bites you every time you try to pet or play with him.

Understanding Why Puppies Bite

Understanding why the behavior is happening, and your role in changing the behavior, are the first steps to stop puppy biting. Puppies mouth, chew, gnaw, bite and nip for many different reasons.  A puppy’s mouth is his avenue for exploring his environment. Similar to human babies, a puppy learns about his world and the objects in it through mouth-exploration. Additionally, biting could be part of play behavior, it could be a result of boredom or lack of stimulation, or your puppy could be teething.

Whatever the reason your puppy is biting, it is important that the behavior stop. Allowing biting behavior to continue as a puppy matures can lead to other more dangerous or destructive behavioral problems in adulthood. Having a dog that is safe and enjoyable to be around begins with YOU, so let’s begin with you.

You are the boss, the “leader of the pack,” the head honcho, and your puppy needs to get the memo. This dominance is communicated largely through activities you are already doing, such as feeding your dog, and other efforts you are taking in puppy training.

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Second to being in charge, you need to be consistent. Any efforts you take in your puppy’s training, especially to stop puppy biting, need to be repeated, every time, without exception. If your puppy learns that he can get away with the behavior sometimes, you will struggle to break the behavior. You also need to be consistent with praise. If your puppy is chewing on a toy instead of your husband’s socks, he should be praised warmly and enthusiastically for being good.

Methods to Stop Puppy Biting

Now that we have you “trained”, let’s talk about methods you can use to stop puppy biting.

  1. Provide your puppy with plenty of interesting toys to keep him entertained, and to direct teething and biting to the appropriate places.
  2. While playing or interacting with your puppy, if your puppy bites you, indicate to your puppy that this was painful by yelping or yelling, “Ouch!” Offer your hand again. If your puppy doesn’t bite, lay on the praise!
  3. If your puppy is biting you or someone else, gently grab his scruff, and firmly say, “No!” or “No bite!” This gesture imitates what a mother dog would do to correct her puppy’s behavior. It also teaches the puppy the associated verbal command.
  4. If the biting continues, perhaps due to over excitement or rough play, isolate the puppy, either by leaving the room or ignoring him. This takes away the fun, and gives your puppy a chance to calm down.
  5. If you have the right materials around you, discourage incessant biting by making your puppy uncomfortable when he bites. For example, put something on your hands that would taste bitter or shake a metal can with objects inside.

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When training your new puppy, do not hit or strike. Hitting your puppy can lead to worse obedience or temperament problems. Most importantly, do not give up! Puppy training takes time and persistence. Your puppy may not stop biting the first day, week or even the first month, but he will get there, if you are consistent with discipline and praise. Good luck!

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