Puppy biting is a normal part of your young pet dog’s teething process, as the young pup starts to become aware of the wider world and wants to interact and investigate.
Puppy bites are, at first, inherently playful or investigative in nature, and for a puppy that’s just a few weeks old, it’s an adorable part of growing up.
But as your pet dog starts to grow, its teeth start to form and start to sharpen. At that point, you will want to learn how to stop a puppy from biting!
Owners can start to reinforce behavioral patterns early on and teach how to stop puppy-biting as your pet begins to grow up.
In this article, we explore why your puppy bites and what are the best ways to stop puppy from biting.
Puppy Biting: is it a normal behavior?
An important part of preparing for a puppy is recognizing that they will start biting as their teeth begin to grow through - it is a totally normal behavior.
Just as human babies bite and chew as their teeth push through - your puppy keeps biting as their teeth begin to form.
While a young puppy of a few weeks old won’t cause much damage when they bite, it becomes more of a problem when the teeth become fully formed and become much sharper.
As an owner, you can expect teething to become pronounced around the 16-week mark, so it’s good to begin puppy-biting training before this.
Why does my puppy bite?
Puppies bite for many different reasons, but the primary reason for this type of behavior is pure curiosity.
Owners can understand that puppies aren’t malicious, they are simply using their new teeth to discover the world they are in, and that means biting everything around them to see what reacts, what doesn’t, and what’s possible in their new environment.
However, curiosity is the only reason for puppy biting. Puppies are also full of energy, and they are looking to play and have fun: biting is their way of playing and socializing, and it can become a way to release all that pent up energy and excitement too.
Unfortunately, though, this behavior can lead to injuries or damage as the puppy grows older!
Puppy biting inhibition
Puppy biting becomes a problem as your dog grows older, and not just because your puppy’s teeth are becoming larger and sharper.
While your dog is still young, it retains what’s known as ‘bite inhibition.’ Essentially, your puppy doesn’t know the extent of their ability to bite or the potential pain or damage that their biting causes.
Simply put, your puppy doesn’t yet appreciate that human skin is sensitive and that biting causes pain. They also don’t realize that their teeth can rip and tear into your new pillows (and that this is bad behavior!).
An essential part of the training process, then, is teaching your puppy when and what they can and can’t bite.
What can I do to make my puppy stop biting?
Puppies have very sharp teeth, and we’re often asked how to get a puppy to stop biting when it’s still young (before they begin teething at four months old).
The key is constant reinforcement, and there are several simple methods that dog owners can employ to condition their puppies early on.
Puppies don’t know that they shouldn’t be biting humans, but verbal conditioning can help them to realize that their teeth can cause pain.
In the litter, puppies bite and chew playfully with other puppies, but they do recognize if they have caused pain when their playmates squeal or let out high-pitched whines.
Humans can replicate this, and owners can let out a high-pitched whine themselves to stop puppy biting fast. This can be reinforced with commands such as ‘no’, or ‘stop’, which the puppy will begin to associate with negative behavior as they grow up.
Chew toys are a fantastic way to teach your puppy from biting things that it shouldn’t.
Puppies are inherently inquisitive, and they want to actively bite and chew. So providing them with a chew toy that they are allowed to chew is the perfect way to start training them.
If your puppy bites your hand or starts attacking the pillows, remove them from the area, then provide them with a chew toy instead. They will soon begin to realize that they are allowed to chew the toy but have to stay away from the pillows!
Cooling off time
If your puppy continually chews and bites, then you can remove them from the room and place them in their basket for some cooling off time as a way to teach your puppy to stop biting.
This method is a great way to not encourage biting, as puppies won’t be happy missing out on their play and social time.
Leave them in the kitchen to cool off, or take away their bed ramp so they can’t get back on the sofa to chew.
- Positive reinforcement is the best way to condition and to train your puppy.
- Negative reinforcements (particularly any physical punishment) can actually be detrimental.
You can use treats or affection to reinforce positive behavior. For instance, if your puppy starts chewing your hand, tell them to stop. If they stop, provide them with a treat.
They’ll soon realize that by following your rules, they’ll be rewarded (rather than being punished for not following them!).
Exercise and socializing with other dogs
Puppies are full of energy, and they need an outlet for all that playfulness and curiosity.
If your puppy doesn’t have enough opportunities to exercise, then you’ll find that they start to pounce, bite, and chew more around the home.
Puppies are social creatures, and you can help them release their energy through interactions with other puppies too. Arrange playdates with your friends, or take them to doggy training or doggy daycare!
When Does Mouthing Become Aggression?
Puppies start really teething at around 4 months old, and you can expect this teething period to last until they are at least 7 or 8 months old. During this period, it’s important to look for signs that your dog is no longer playful but becoming aggressive.
Too much negativity in the conditioning period can lead to aggression. If your puppy continues to bite as it teethes, despite your training, then it’s good to seek the help of a professional dog trainer for advice.
Signs of aggression include:
- Deliberate biting despite reacting in pain.
This behavior needs to be stopped before your dog becomes much larger.
Puppy biting: the last say
Nipping and biting is a normal part of puppy behavior, but as your puppy begins to teethe, you need to train the puppy to stop this behavior.
The majority of puppies will learn to stop biting through simple conditioning, as they learn that their owners feel pain when bitten.
Owners can also use techniques such as cooling off, providing chew toys, and ensuring that their puppy has lots of outlets for their energy.
Why not bookmark this article, so you can begin training your puppy at home?