Puppy biting can be pretty painful! Did you know that puppies have 28 teeth? Razor sharp, too! They’ll use these teeth to explore and experiment in the new world around them.
As an owner, it’s part of your responsibility to maintain the right balance between natural behavior and something that could cause distress or injury to others as your four-legged friend hurtles toward adulthood.
Find out how to nip inappropriate behavior in the bud as we sink our teeth into the world of dog chewing and discover plenty of tips about how to stop puppy biting and puppy nipping.
Why Do Puppies Bite?
It’s natural for a puppy to want to use their mouths to play and explore. Like we did when we were babies, it’s a way to learn about their environment. It also plays an important role in getting them socialized. Puppies learn from biting other puppies, their owners, as well as inanimate objects.
They can, for example, gather useful sensory information about how hard they can bite a particular object. They’ll also assess the taste and weigh up if it’s worth repeating their biting behavior or not.
That’s why you’re likely to find them biting or chewing on rugs, furniture, cushions, shoes, their crate, bed, or even their food bowl. There’s a lot of trial and error going on.
Puppies tend to chew on nearly everything while they are teething. Pressing down on their gums is one way they try to reduce any discomfort they may be feeling.
Adult teeth begin to push through at around 3-4 months of age, and while that’s happening you may notice an increase in biting objects or even you. Your puppy’s gums may feel slightly sore once their adult ones begin to develop and they lose their puppy teeth.
There are teething toys for puppies made from softer plastics available to ease their sore gums and stop your puppy from biting you. Their design won’t damage the baby teeth or the new incoming adult ones. Always keep a close eye on your puppy when they play with toys to ensure they do not chew off any small pieces and swallow them.
Learning How to Stop Puppy Biting
Puppies typically discover the strength of their bite during the first few weeks of life that they spend with their siblings. Inadequate opportunities to interact can lead to a lack of bite inhibition as they get older.
If you feel your puppy is a bit too nippy, it might be time for them to play more with their own kind. You should try to provide lots of opportunities for your puppy to connect with other puppies along with friendly, vaccinated adult dogs.
It’s a way for them to learn about appropriate boundaries between them and the other animals around them. Enrolling in a puppy class could be an option where they’ll be able to pick up important new social skills.
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Some Dos and Don’ts Around Puppy Biting
Here are some tips to stop puppy biting and puppy nipping:
- You’ll need plenty of patience and persistence along with a consistent approach
- Have a ready supply of puppy-friendly toys for your new arrival to bite on
- Encourage your puppy to play with toys using plenty of praise
- If your puppy bites you, make a yelp and move away
- Never punish your puppy by smacking or speaking harshly
- Redirect your puppy to alternative behaviors such as sitting and staying
- Reward these other behaviors with treats and plenty of verbal praise
- If biting is persistent, try tiring out your puppy with plenty of running around
Distraction with toys and redirection to other behaviors are essential tools to ensure that you train your puppy properly and steer them away from inappropriate biting. Always have an alternative toy available for your puppy to chew on.
Nipping Biting Behavior in the Bud
Discourage your puppy from chasing your hands or toes and biting you in the process. If you allow this behavior to develop, you could cause problems later on when your puppy reaches adulthood and the habit has already taken hold.
If your puppy begins any play with biting, make a high-pitched noise and cease interacting with your puppy straight away. Take yourself off to another room and close the door, particularly if your puppy is persistent in this kind of behavior. Wait at least 20-30 seconds before returning and, when you do, encourage play with a toy.
Make this pattern the norm so that your puppy learns that if they bite, you leave. Never scold your puppy as that could well do more harm than good by provoking attention and a reaction from you. It can lead to fear and anxiety and that could in turn cause your puppy to bite even more.
Biting in Adult Dogs and When to See a Trainer
It is far easier to train bite inhibition to a puppy. Their jaws are not as strong and don’t apply as much pressure as an adult dog. By the time dogs get older, bad habits may have taken hold. Training your puppy as early as possible is paramount!
If early training wasn’t possible, you may have to cope with a dog whose bite might cause an injury. This can be a serious problem and can lead to all sorts of unpleasant litigation if there are other humans or dogs involved.
All is not lost, however, and it is definitely possible to train a dog in bite inhibition when they are older. You can use similar techniques to those used with puppies.
If your adolescent or adult dog is biting you sufficiently hard to break the skin, you should get the help of a behavior specialist. Talk to your vet about how you can make this happen.
Speak to the Experts
Puppy biting and puppy nipping are normal behaviors but ones that you need to keep in check. If you have any concerns about how your puppy is behaving, whether they are biting you or can’t leave the couch alone, we always have an expert vet available to offer reassurance and advice. A video consultation with one of Cooper Pet Care’s qualified veterinarians is only a few clicks away. Fast, simple, and secure – get the answers you need.
You can also find out about how to get your kitten to stop biting here in our blog section.