Puppies might be the cutest things on the face of the earth, but boy do those little puppy teeth hurt! As an owner we need to remember that it is perfectly normal for puppies to bite. They are not doing this to be aggressive or mean. However, if we allow this habit to continue forever, problems are likely to develop.
Puppies, like babies, want to chew on something (anything) when they are teething. Whether it is his favorite chew toy, or your hand, they want to sink those sharp little teeth into something.
Don’t worry though, there are many things that you can do to minimize your puppy’s biting.
Do you remember when we talked about socializing your puppy? This will be a huge help in the biting phase. Remember, we want to encourage acceptable behavior and discourage bad behavior.
While it might seem like a natural reaction to swat at your puppies face to get them to stop biting you, this is actually not the approach that you want to take. Firstly, you never want to be mean to your pet. Secondly, this can sometimes backfire on you and get your puppy more riled up.
Speaking of riled up, you want to avoid wild activity games with your pet. Games such as tug of war, chase, wrestling, and keep away are all activities that actually encourage biting in a dog. This is not to say that you can never play these games with your dog. Just not during the training process.
You will want to use a consistent command word every time your puppy begins to bite. I personally like to use “STOP.” It is direct and clear and the puppy will know to stop doing what they are doing. In order for this to work, you and the other puppy caregivers must use this command word each and every time the puppy begins to bite. As with most dog training, reinforcement is key.
Again, going back to our dog obedience lessons, you want your puppy to know who is boss. Sometimes a puppy will start biting you to show you who’s boss (or who they think is boss – THEMSELVES)! With our first dog, my mom had trained him fairly early to stop biting. However, whenever I was alone with her, she would bite me. Eventually we realized that we had a control issue. Even though I was only 8, I had to become more of a master over her, instead of just a playmate. The biting soon stopped.
As with all of your puppy training, this will start from day one. First, your puppy’s littermates (brothers and sisters) will show the puppy not to bite. This however is usually done by them biting back when your puppy bites them first. Once you actually get your puppy home alone, the ball is in your court.
- When your puppy begins to bite your hand, stay STEP, remove your hand, and replace your hand with a chew toy.
- When your puppy bites you, say “ouch” and look sad. Dogs can really sense emotions in people, and they do not want to be the cause of pain to their owners. After you say “ouch”, get up and walk away from the puppy. This will show him that he will lose his playmate if he continues to bite.
- If your puppy begins to get more aggressive with biting, say “NO” very loudly and put your thumb inside his mouth, under his tongue, and use your other finger under his chin. Hold it there firmly, but gently, for about 10 seconds. Your puppy will not like this sensation, and with their mouth in this position, they can’t bite you.
- Put Tabasco sauce or another strong flavor on your hands. When your puppy goes to bite you, he will get an unwelcome surprise taste in his mouth.
- Get a clean spray bottle and fill it with water. Every time your puppy bites you, squirt them with the water bottle.
- Roll up an old newspaper and secure with rubber bands. Each time your puppy bites you, slam the paper on a nearby desk. The sound will really scare your puppy, without hurting him.
These techniques will work great for you, as long as you are consistent with your training. Should you have any further concerns, or it appears that you have an aggressive dog by nature, I recommend that you consult your breeder as well as your vet.