Puppy biting and nipping is normal behaviour within a puppy’s group of littermates. However, this acceptability changes when he starts living with humans, and the behaviour then becomes a problem. When a new puppy arrives in our homes, we’re often inclined to indulge in his chewing and mouthing antics because he appears so young and vulnerable. We smile and tolerate his puppy nips and biting behaviour as part of the puppy process. At this early stage, we can’t image those little razor-sharp teeth growing into large fleshing tearing teeth.
But it is a possibility, so the earlier you can start training your puppy what is acceptable to chew and bite the better.
PLAY BITING AND NIPPING
Your puppy is chewing relentlessly on your hands, or the hem of your jeans and then with a sudden demonic yelp, he sinks his teeth into your flesh. Now you fill the air with your own loud yelp as you start wondering if your angelic-looking bright-eyed puppy will ever stop trying puncture all your limbs.
If you don’t start his training straight away at this early stage of annoying nipping, you could find yourself very quickly in a situation of owning a biting full-sized dog you can’t control.
NEW PUPPY BEHAVIOUR
I know how easy it is to play with a new puppy and let this behaviour get out of hand. By putting my hand or fingers near to his face, I’m unconsciously tempting him to bit me. Pulling my hand away with a howl is often a signal to a puppy that this game is fun. He’ll pause for a moment, and you can see his eyes light up with delight as he lunges towards you to grab another piece of flesh.
WHO WINS THE BITING GAME?
Let’s be honest about this game of biting the human until they howl. Who wins?
The bright-eyed, fluffy puppy who is so small he wouldn’t ever cause any harm or the grumpy new owner who is wondering if they’ve made a huge mistake?
In my opinion, the puppy nearly always wins, as he’s having such great fun at the owners’ expense.
OK, so you don’t want to take all his fun away, you’ll feel mean not letting him do things he shouldn’t. After all, he is still only a ‘baby’ and will grow out of the biting and nipping stage.
If you don’t start stopping your puppy from nipping and biting now, it may become too late. So, how do you train this behaviour out of your puppy without taking all his fun and pleasure away?
STOPPING YOUR PUPPY FROM NIPPING AND BITING
Before you can start changing your puppy’s behaviour, you’ll need to understand what makes your puppy do what he does.
CHILDREN v PUPPIES
In many ways, we can compare puppies with small children, as there are quite a few similarities. Such as both are full of boundless energy and possess an almost manic excitement. Their curiosity about everything around them knows no bounds. And of course, their life consists of playing and napping in equal measure.
Well, fortunately, for many of us, our children have loads of other activities to fill their time. Whereas a puppy has only the activities, he knows such as biting, chasing his owner, growling, and barking excessively. The reason being that they have previously had to entertain themselves by chasing, biting, and nipping their littermates.
HOW YOUR PUPPY LEARNS NOT TO BITE
Usually, a puppy will learn along with his littermates that biting is bad and that hard play-biting will cause the recipient of his bit to whimper and stop playing with him. It makes him aware he has done something wrong. Over time he’ll understand that it is the action of biting that is causing the problem. Obviously, the first few times this happens, the puppy won’t realize that is why the playing had to stop. But after a few times when that happens, the puppy will start to understand that biting isn’t a good behaviour as it stops the playing of his games. With time he’ll gradually learn what’s going on and will stop the biting and nipping.
However, in cases when a puppy is taken away from his mother and littermates far too early, he’ll have not had time to learn this. And that, in turn, will often mean future trouble for the new owner, as he will continue biting if when anyone plays with him.
So, any new puppy owner must start to correct these puppy biting and nipping behaviours from day one.
What may seem like a small problem now, (and sometimes a rather funny problem when you’re not the recipient of the biting,) but it will be harder to handle in the future.
PUPPY BITING AND NIPPING PROBLEMS
Puppy biting is a common problem experienced by almost everyone who has ever owned a puppy. They are so cute and adorable; you can’t help playing with them. But often this playing with your puppy will trigger his excitement and over-enthusiastic playing on his part, and he’ll start biting and nipping you.
REASONS YOUR PUPPY IS NIPPING AND BITING
Often when a puppy wants attention, it seems natural for him to nip or bite you. Why? Because they’ve learned it gets a reaction in the form of a yelp or hand movement.
Just like humans, most animals will go through a teething stage, which is often a painful and uncomfortable process for a puppy, who won’t be aware of what is happening. All he’ll know is he needs to chew on something – now! Things.
When puppies live together, their social rank is often determined during their play fights. A strong bite suggests an even stronger dog, which in turn means a higher position in the pack’s hierarchy.
EXPLORATION AND LEARNING
To a puppy, the only way he knows how to interact with the world around him is by using his sense of smell. Followed, of course, by using his mouth and teeth.
AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
As well as communicating verbally, such as barking, a puppy may use biting and nipping to grab your attention.
BREED AND BREEDING
Puppies from certain breeds will often need to bite anything that moves as its either instinctive or has been bred into them. With the correct training and persistence training, they can leave this behaviour behind.
HOW LONG DOES THE PUPPY BITING AND NIPPING PHASE LAST?
A puppy’s biting and nipping behaviour is often temporary, and once they enter their adulthood, they usually stop. However, this isn’t always the case so as his owner and leader of the pack, you need to help him understand that biting and nipping is unaccepted. If you don’t start this training, your puppy may take this behaviour into his adulthood. He may keep a hold on to this habit which will become a huge problem that is not easily solved. It is far harder to train an adult dog with underlying behavioural problems. Therefore, you need to take control and find a way to stop his biting and nipping behaviour early on.
TRAINING TIPS TO STOP YOUR PUPPY BITING AND NIPPING
- When your puppy starts biting and nipping you, immediately stop playing with him. Some experts tell you to act as if it hurts you by making whining or yelping like noise, but my personal experience is, that appears to excite the puppy more. So, begin with trial and error, I usually slowly withdrawn my hand and won’t look at him until he calms down. Whichever method you use, you need to make him realize that he has done something you disapprove of and that’s why you stopped playing. These steps will help your puppy understand that biting doesn’t result in fun and games. Over time your puppy begins to adapt his behaviour and gradually drop his biting instincts.
- Ensure all the games and playing you do with your puppy avoids and anything aggressive such as fighting, or teasing. Puppies love this type of energetic playing and start to become overexcited and hyperactive. He still has learned any boundaries yet so will not know without training when the aggression is unacceptable. Yes, you want to tire him out, but not at the risk of getting accidentally bitten. So, start playing different games that he might enjoy, such as throw a ball or soft toy, and make training an enjoyable game. Aggressive and exciting games like tug of war and fighting will increase their instincts to bite.
- Consistency is the key when you’re training a puppy to stop biting and nipping. Stay focused and be consistent with the methods and techniques you’re using. If you start switching different methods too soon, you may inadvertently start confusing your puppy and inhibit his learning process. Therefore, you need to stick to one method to help him understand what you want him to do.
- Ensure the rest of the family, including the children, are aware of the boundaries your setting whenever playing with your puppy. This will ensure your training is more effective, and it will also help him to learn biting is unacceptable when playing, as he’s not getting confusing mixed messages.
- Positive reinforcement is vital as it can motivate your pet to learn within a positive environment. Therefore make sure you always praise him when he stops biting you. It will make him realize that biting is unacceptable behaviour and not biting will earn him praise from his owner.
Puppy Biting and Nipping
Puppy biting is normal behaviour and often disappears as they grow and understand not to bite when living with their owners. As much as you might love, and adore to play with your puppy, their biting and nipping can become irritating and painful.
Having said that, having constant scratches on exposed flesh by his constant biting it may not be the only worrying thing. Unfortunately, you may also end up with torn clothes filled with holes, prized furniture with scratches and teeth marks as puppies love biting and chewing things.
So, the sooner you start his training for zero tolerance of ‘teeth on flesh’ the better. Ensure you make training fun. Positive enforcement training should be carried out within a positive and humane way. Never punish your puppy; he’ll never learn through fear.
It would help if you made all training fun and stimulating, with loads of praise and maybe a few rewards. Using his own intelligence will help your puppy become the pet you’re proud of.
Here you’ll find a good selection of toys you use whilst training your puppy not to bite you.