How to Stop Puppy Biting
Everybody that has ever owned a puppy knows the horrors of biting. While it is rather enjoyable at first and cute, it quickly can become a horrible part of your pet experience. The key is to be swift and direct in your control of the situation, or the problem could linger much longer.
Puppy biting is a fairly normal thing for a young dog to go through. It is a phase that generally starts when they begin to grow teeth, and it helps to strengthen them. All dogs go through some form of puppy biting. During this stage of growth, puppies simply love to bite and knaw on anything really. This unfortunately includes the hands and feet of you and your family members. They might be adorable and all that, but those little teeth can really hurt!
The key to training your biting puppy is to minimize the biting behavior and control when and where. You will not completely stop the biting, but you can make it much more bearable. You can also control how hard they bite and the sooner you get started, the better your odds of success…especially lasting success.
Getting started in your puppy biting training
There are an ocean of ideas and methods out there to stop puppy biting and most of them have some merit. There are some that are more effective than others to be sure, and most of them draw on some basic tenants of dog training and behavior.
A nipping dog is one thing. If you decide to disrespect your puppy and strike him in the face, you will create a lose/lose situation. The dog will start to fear you, or worse still, it will become an aggressive dog that uses violence to communicate.
Always socialize your puppy as you start training. The more people and dogs he or she is around, the better the training will go.
Most people focus only on what the dog does wrong during training. This is not only cruel but also highly ineffective. Certainly you should discourage poor behavior like biting, but you should also encourage and praise twice as hard when the dog does the right things. This is far more important and effective for most dog training situations.
During the training phase, stay away from games that encourages biting. Don’t wrestle around on the floor with them because they will automatically mouth at you. Anything that might cause biting behavior, you should avoid as a game…at least for the time being.
Involve everyone that comes into contact with your puppy with whatever methods you employ to stop the biting. If everyone gives him the same messages when he bites or nips, then he will catch on much sooner than he will with conflicting messages.
Remember that you are the key to informing him of the behavior. The puppy will feel like his biting and nipping is normal. You have to show him it is not okay. Regular, consistent messages are the key.
Never allow a puppy to establish dominance over you or other humans in the home. If you do, then you will have behavior problems throughout the dog’s life. If this is becoming a problem, then by all means check with your vet for a good training program in your area on dominance. This is a big problem that you must deal with early.
Techniques to Stop Puppy Biting
The key to puppy biting falling in line is getting to them early. Though this is not always possible, it is for most people. When a puppy first begins to teeth and nip at you, you need to redirect their biting immediately from your feet or hands to an appropriate chew toy. When they begin biting you, simply give a firm rebuke and give them the toy to chew. This is often enough to solve the problem outright and get them on the right track early.
Some dogs are not quite as easy, so it is a good idea to understand what the goal is. You are not going to eliminate the biting entirely no more than you can stop a baby from teething on a ring. The behavior is not wrong. What you will want to do, however, is minimize the force with which they bite. The strength of the bite is the first step and then you move on to stopping it a bit more directly down the road.
You can also pretend you are a puppy yourself. When puppies are together, they will nip and play pretty rough at first. Eventually one will get hurt and let out a yelp. When this happens, it signals to the other dogs to not play so hard and they naturally correct the biting and pressure. You can do this as well simply by responding in kind. If the puppy nips at you, yelp and walk away. Eventually they will connect that biting means getting a loud noise and no playmate for a time. This will correct the behavior naturally and with a minimum of actual instruction from you.
Another strong but occasionally needed method is to respond in a physical way. When the dog starts nipping you, put your thumb under their tongue and then a finger under their chin. In this position, the dog is not being hurt but they can’t bite you either. As you do it, reprimand the dog and hold it for about ten seconds. Most of all, praise a dog that is being gentle and careful with its mouth and reprimand a biting or nipping puppy immediately as well.
Some people teach methods that include using bad tasting substances on gloves to create a bad experience every time the dog bites but I don’t like this method at all. It teaches the dog to withdraw from the owner and most dogs are smart enough to know it is the gloves, not you, that taste horrid.
The key is to be consistent and you will be fine. Most dogs and puppies pick up the idea when you work with them regularly. That is the beauty of a dog…they want to please you in every way. Make sure you remember that praise is the key. It will get you far more results than anything else.