Updated: Apr 24
Puppy biting is a normal part of the development process for young
dogs. Puppies bite to explore their environment, play with their littermates, and practice hunting skills. However, most puppies do grow out of this phase by the time they are 4-6 months old. Puppy biting is a normal part of the development process for young dogs.
The first four months with a little new puppy are undoubtedly the hardest. Trying to create daily routines to help your new puppy settle in your home, Not only is your new puppy exploring the world using his mouth but for you to establish a daily routine, introducing a puppy potty training schedule while our puppy explores the world using their mouths.
Mouthing, Nipping and Biting In Puppies
Puppy biting is not breeding specific; however, some breeds are, in my experience, more mouthy than others. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are known as being notoriously mouthy.
We need to understand why our puppy is biting to address and anticipate the behaviours. Interestingly there are multiple explanations for the puppy biting. The key to stopping puppy biting is understanding and learning to recognise your puppy's biting patterns. Let's explore what to look for and how to curb your puppy's behaviour.
Let's Explore Why Puppies Bite and how to stop puppy biting.
- When puppies are teething, biting gives them relief from the discomfort of sore, itchy gums.
It is a good idea always to have a stock of puppy chew toys at hand. Not only do you save your furniture and shoes, but your puppy learns what is acceptable to chew. My favourite puppy chew substitutes are Baby Kongs, which you can stuff and freeze using canned puppy food, or soaked puppy dry food for stuffing. Alternatively, most puppies love bully sticks. Be prepared and ready to redirect when your puppy shows interest in chewing unwanted items. At times you might need to encourage your puppy quite intensively.
- When your puppy isn't sleeping, most likely he will be investigating, chewing and playing with any objects. Play biting stems from a prey drive and is often directed towards moving objects.
-Always carry your puppy's favourite Puppy Tug Toy. When your puppy attacks your feet or ankles, instantly stop moving. Get your puppy tug toy out and wave it enticingly. When you play with your puppy, don't let him mouth on your hands, small puppy teeth are razor-sharp, and you risk creating a terrible habit. We want to teach our puppies to associate play with biting a toy but not our hands. When playing with your puppy, always use a toy as the centre of your puppy's attention. Hard toys aren't appropriate for playing. An old t-shirt, a soft toy or a rope toy are far better alternatives for a game of tug-of-war.
If your puppy continues biting you, ignore him and turn your body away when he disengages. Praise and reward him. Even though the razor-sharp puppy teeth bite very hard, do never use physical punishment. Slapping your puppy for biting often makes it bite more aggressively. It can damage your relationship and make it less likely that your puppy will enjoy playing with you in the future. Consider if your puppy is overstimulated, tired and in need of a nap.
Puppies are being taught by their mum and littermates from very early on to moderate the force of their bite. The littermates will give a high pitched yelp if a puppy bites too hard. The feedback will teach the puppy bite inhibition. I encourage you to continue socialising your puppy from the day it arrives in your home. Provide plenty of opportunity for your puppy to play with friendly, vaccinated adult dogs or puppies at a similar size and puppy play style. Consider enrolling your puppy in a local puppy socialisation class puppy program or reach out to a certified dog trainer near you.
Puppy Saying No
Puppy often mouth on people's hands when restrained, stroked or patted except when they are very tired or sleeping. Our puppies react completely like our toddlers. They are no cuddle bugs, and the mouthing is a typical example of when our puppies say no to us. A puppy will bite more aggressive way if restraint or handling feels uncomfortable.
- Being comfortable when being handled is a fundamental behaviour to teach your puppy. When we fail to teach our puppies, future veterinary visits and grooming will be straining experiences for your puppy. Your puppy must have a positive experience with being handled. If not, you risk that the biting intensifies and turns into aggression. Start at your puppy's pace and make sure to reward no biting and every stroke with healthy puppy treats. The more our puppy feels in control; the more willing your puppy will be to cooperate with you.
Is your puppy getting enough sleep?
- Your young puppy needs a lot of sleep up to 20 hours a day. Puppy mouthing and biting are often cues for your puppy not getting enough rest. Like human children, puppies don't like resting very much, and the transition from play to rest can be very challenging. Unfortunately, biting escalates the more tired your puppy gets, and as we don't want them turning into small land-sharks, it's crucial that your puppy is provided with some guidance and management to calm down.
- Learn to recognise those small signs of tiredness in your puppy before he gets too overtired. Often your puppy's playful mouthiness will turn into a puppy temper tantrum. You can recognise the change in your puppy's body language as his facial muscles are tense, his body stiff, he might even pull his lip up, exposing his teeth and growl at you, his bites will be much more intense, aggressive, and painful to normal puppy play. This is not a learning opportunity for your puppy to protect each other use a crate or puppy pen to limit your puppy's opportunity to bite and make the choice of relaxation easier. A lasting healthy puppy chew or a frozen Kong is an effective way to help your puppy transition from hyper to calm and relaxed.
Dogs have a need for chewing
-Are you wondering how you can stop your puppy chewing? Your puppy and adult dog is going to chew. It's just a part of being a dog. Puppies chew when teething to relieve pain and to soothe their gums. Young and adult dogs chew to strengthen their jaws, clean their teeth, alleviate boredom, reduce stress and anxiety and keep their brain engaged. Chewing is very beneficial to our dogs. That is as long as they are chewing on the right things.
- Safe puppy chew toys, what you should know.
Every puppy is different, and so is their preferences for chewing. The market for puppy chew toys is overwhelming by following this simple safe puppy chew guide, choosing only quality products for your puppy, and stop wasting money on unsafe chew toys.
Hardness: The thumbnail test, if it doesn't leave a mark in the toy when you press it with your thumbnail, it is probably too hard for your dog to chew on. There is a risk that your dog will damage or crack his teeth.
Durability: If the puppy toy is too easy to shred open, your dog will be at risk of tearing it apart and swallowing chunks of fabric or stuffing from inside.
Flavouring: Coating and flavouring can cause an upset stomach. Do you know that a popular puppy chew pig ears are coated?
Size and shape: The puppy chew toy shouldn't be so small that it presents a choking hazard, nor the size that the puppy could get his jaw or tongue stuck in it.
Even if the puppy chewing toy meets all the safety requirements, you should always monitor when your puppy is chewing on puppy toys.
By providing your puppy with plenty of desirable chewing alternatives, you can eliminate biting and chewing with almost no effort.
Reinforce Behaviors You Desire
It is now that you are shaping your future adult dog. Cheeky habits tend to be very hard to unlearn; therefore, focus on rewarding your dog's positive behaviours, and by shaping desirable behaviours, the naughty habits diminish.
When and where to get help with puppy biting.
Be patient and understanding; remember puppy mouthing and puppy biting is normal behaviour for a puppy or a young dog. If you doubt how to curb the behaviour or if it is puppy biting in playfulness or aggression, reach out to a certified dog trainer today. We offer a tailor-made program for you and your puppy where our certified puppy instructor will guide you to raise a happy and well-behaved puppy.
Puppy biting troubleshooting
We have covered how puppy mouthiness can increase when your puppy gets tired, petted, handled or restrained. Other times your puppy might need a potty break, or he might be thirsty or hungry.
When your puppy keeps biting and doesn't respond to your redirections, he may need to burn some energy.
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