Help! My Puppy Won’t Stop Biting
So, you’ve got yourself a puppy. It’s cute and fluffy and completely adorable in every way. It looks like the cuddliest little munchkin ever to live, but when you go in for the snuggle you’re confronted with something horrible. Puppy teeth. Those little, needle sharp razor teeth which are pure agony on your skin. They leave you covered in scratches with watering eyes, and the worst bit? Your puppy thinks biting you is the most fun in the world.
Your puppy won’t stop biting your hands and your feet, it can be hard and it’s often painful. You feel like you’ve tried everything. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been there, I feel your pain and I can 100% tell you that it will get better.
Puppy biting, or ‘mouthing‘ as it is more affectionately known, is totally normal albeit a total pain. Bruce mouthed a lot when he was a pup and I had concerns that he was never going to stop and would end up being a big dog with a biting issue. I was horrified by how bitey he was, but after many failed attempts I finally figured out how to get him to stop.
Firstly, heres what not to do.
No matter how many times you are told that this is the best course of action, let me promise to you that the worst way to attempt to stop a puppy from mouthing is to yelp when you get bitten. The theory behind this practice is that in the litter if a puppy is bitten by a sibling then it will yelp to show it hurts, and teach litter mates that biting is bad. Frankly, it rarely works. You know how dogs like toys that squeak? Well, by yelping when you are bitten you are effectively turning yourself into a giant squeak toy. Biting just became even more enjoyable for your puppy because he gets an awesome reaction from you! He’ll do it again and again to see you jump up and make loud high-pitched noises.
Now, here’s something which may work for you if you have a lap dog, or a very sensitive pup who has a strong connection with you. If you have a more independent breed of dog like I do, then there’s a chance this won’t be the right way to deal with puppy mouthing. However, those with more dependant breeds should find this works pretty well. All you have to do when your puppy bites is to calmly say ‘no bites‘ then cross your arms, stand up and look away. When your puppy settles down, you can return to them. As soon as they bite again, repeat the process. Prepare to do this many times, until your puppy finally gets it. It could take days or it could take a couple of weeks, but be consistent.
If you’ve tried the above and your puppy doesn’t give up and continues to bite when you look away, or pulls on your clothes for attention, welcome to my world! This is typical behaviour in active breeds, intelligent and playful dogs, and terriers who love to use their jaws.
In this situation, the key thing is to take away the thing which they are getting over excited by. That means you. By denying them access to you, the fun and games stop completely. So, instead of simply turning away from your puppy you are going to say ‘no bites’ and get up and walk away, closing the door behind you. Wait until your puppy is calm and go back in the room, get him or her to sit and continue with what you were doing before the bite. Again, this isn’t a quick fix. It’s going to take a lot of dedication on your part – stick with the program and sooner or later you won’t have to fear those puppy teeth.
Check out these extra tips on how to stop puppy mouthing:
- Use calm, slow movements – nothing says ‘bite me’ more than shuffling feet and waving hands!
- Give your puppy alternative things to bite – make sure you have plenty of fun dog toys, and give your puppy lots of praise for chewing them and not you.
- Stay relaxed – even if your pup bites you, leave emotion out of it. When you work through the processes above, keep it business-like. The aim is to be as boring as possible, so your pup isn’t interested in biting.
- Remember – mouthing is a natural part of being a puppy. You need to train them out of it to ensure that it doesn’t continue into adulthood, but you also need to give them a chance to mature a little bit. With training, time and patience you will get there!