Puppies have got this natural behavior of biting and nipping this habit during their tender age can be a challenging task. Just as human babies, as they start teething, they naturally require things that they can chew on to. Dogs usually prefer to utilize their mouths over paws for manipulating things. This is a behavior that begins straight from the time when they are puppies and when they begin to explore the world.
At the beginning, it can be a cute experience for the pet-parent but you can’t forget the fact that puppy’s teeth are extremely sharp. When they bite, they don’t realize how hard they’re biting. Hence, if you don’t do something about this habit of your puppy, there may come a time when he might playfully bite someone finger and draw out blood! To know more on how to stop puppy biting, read on.
Discourage and prohibit biting
When two or more puppies play with each other, they mouth each other, which is normal. But very soon, this mouthing may turn into biting. If it does, the puppy that is being bitten will yelp and the sound of yelping surprises the puppy that is biting, thereby making him release.
Pet parents can start exploiting this behavior of puppies and teach them to inhibit or prohibit the bite and understand how much biting is too much. Whenever you find a puppy latching on to your finger or hand too hard, try to create that yelping sound and your hand should go limp. As the puppy releases your hand, ignore her for few seconds and then again resume playing with him.
It’s vital to remember that you shouldn’t pull away your hand from the bite. If you mistakenly do this, this will trigger the chase instinct in him and will make the problem even worse. What to do if the yelp doesn’t work? You have to make a loud ‘Ow!’ sound or some other deterrent verbally. Don’t repeat the limp and yelp procedure more than thrice within 15 minutes – once you reach this point, it’s time for puppy time out!
The main objective here is to teach the dog that gentle play should continue but rough play should stop as it gets worse. Once you think that the bites have been prevented successfully, keep repeating the same procedure whenever he bites even moderately. Gradually, you will be able to teach her mouthing without biting and that is okay.
Teach your puppy that biting is equivalent to ‘game over’
Suppose your puppy bites you when you both are playing, this will mean playtime is over and there will be no exceptions to that decision. Physically punishing your puppy or shouting at him, might sound strange and this is a kind of reward for them. This will teach them that if they bite, this will evoke some kind of response from you, which is called negative reinforcement. This can also make them fearful of being handled.
Instead, you should teach them that biting will help them achieve nothing. A dog trainer, Kathy Santo, recommends turning around and tucking your hands within your armpits. This is a calming signal and is also a minor form of attention withdrawal. Be wary about not being too rough with your young dog in different ways that will motivate them to lose control over you and again bite you.
Give your pup an alternative object to chew
It is always a smart and wise idea to keep a chewy toy at your puppy all the time so that you can predict biting behavior and substitute the toy for your furniture or hand. When you do this, the puppy will get to know what is okay to chew or bite. As soon as they begin to nibble at your toes and fingers while playing, give him a toy instead.
Even after doing all these, if they still keep nipping, stop playing with him instantly. At the same time, if you train your puppy to sit properly as per your command, you can also direct them by asking them to sit and then rewarding them with some toy.
Reasons for mouthing and puppy biting
Before you start cribbing about dog biting, you should try to know the reasons why they do this. Here are few reasons that you should know of:
- Puppies usually explore the world with the help of their mouths
- Their teething process is uncomfortable and it lasts for more than 2-3 months
- Herding breed dogs are pre-disposed to herd, nip and they chase small and other fast-moving things. Young children usually face the brunt of this behavior
- Golden retrievers are predisposed to holding or picking anything within their reach, including your arms and hands
Things to avoid while training your pup to stop biting
- Avert physical punishment as long as puppy biting is concerned.
- There are people who give terrible advice from pinning the pups on their backs, squeezing the mouth of the puppy or even muzzling them to stop biting. This should be strictly avoided.
- No, your puppy is not being ‘dominant’ and you don’t always require punishing him physically to stop this behavior.
- Physical punishments range from ineffective and silly to cruel and hands down abusive. You can create aggression and fear in your dog using such methods.
What should you do instead?
- In case your puppy bites you, you should ignore the behavior and distance yourself from the scene without any drama
- You put your puppy in a time out and this involves too much time, talking and attention to be an effective form of punishment. You have to either ignore his behavior or remove yourself from the scene entirely.
- This will mean that your game is over and attention is over. Try to stay as non-dramatic as you can.
- In case your puppy tries to nip even when you return, remove yourself from the scene.
So, play biting doesn’t always mean that your pup is harmful or vicious. Nevertheless, if you couldn’t successfully moderate his behavior of biting by the time they’re six months old, it is a great idea to get in touch with an experienced dog trainer or a specialist in animal behavior.