Have you noticed your puppy biting everything it comes across? This can be quite concerning to dog owners. However, it is usually completely normal.
Most of the time, it is simply a passing phase. Just like a baby, teething may cause itchy gums which prompt them to bite something for a little comfort.
Puppies also explore their surroundings at an early age using their mouths. But should biting be encouraged? No. As they grow older, constant biting may make them aggressive and generally hostile. They may even hurt kids in the process.
If you notice your puppy biting most things, including you or others, you should make sure to train them to stop biting.
This article will cover what to do and what not to do when training your puppy not to bite.
What To Do
1. Give it chew toys.
When puppies lack toys to play with, they redirect their attention to other objects that are present, including you.
It is prudent to give your puppy chew toys for teething to help it get through that phase without hurting anyone or getting hurt. As they get used to the toys, they will learn to avoid biting people completely.
You can throw away toys and instruct it to fetch them. As you play, make sure you keep your hands away from its mouth as this may trigger it to bite you.
2. Let it know you don’t like the biting.
Just in the way you train your dog to understand your language, you can make your puppy understand that biting is not acceptable.
For instance, you can simply shout “stop!” This will let it know how uncomfortable you are when it bites.
Similar to if your puppy is mouthing, yelping can also help. Puppies also have mental capacity, and they won’t enjoy seeing you groan in pain. Once you have such a reaction when it bites, it will learn to avoid it with time.
Check out these puppy tips from Cesar Millan:
3. Keep the training calm.
Your puppy will respond to your training differently depending on how energetic and active you are. If you run around, roll on the floor, jump, and shout, it will definitely follow suit. Before you know it, your flesh will be between its jaws.
Do calm, steady exercises that don’t make your puppy excited. This will also help it understand that biting or playing rough isn’t allowed.
4. Apply a taste deterrent on your hands and feet.
Puppies react to taste. They enjoy good tastes and frown at bad ones.
You can apply something that tastes awful on your hands and feet before going to play with it. When it bites, don’t immediately react; let it interact with the taste and observe its reaction.
Most likely, a bad taste will make it withdraw from biting. At this point, praise it and let it know it was a good idea to let go. This is proven to be one of the most effective methods for keeping your puppy from biting.
Deterrents include white vinegar, bitter apple, Vicks VapoRub, and others. Avoid substances that may affect your puppy’s health or make it become too aggressive. Things like chili may drive your dog crazy.
5. Spray its face with water.
In case the biting becomes severe, you can always use a spray bottle to squirt some water on its face. Accompany it with a firm “no!” or “stop!” This will usually make it withdraw immediately.
You may observe a little growling, indicating that your puppy is a bit upset. Eventually, every time it sees you, the spraying will be in the back of its mind, and this will make it shun from biting.
6. Reward it for good behaviour.
Rewarding good behavior is a very effective tactic. This applies to kids, students, and even pets.
If you instruct your puppy to stop biting and it responds well, praise it, reward it (give it a treat), or give it affection. It will learn that behaving well doesn’t go unrewarded.
What Not To Do
1. Don’t punish it.
In most cases, you should not punish your dog when it bites you. This may include hitting it, isolating it, subjecting it to torture, or other things.
A puppy reciprocates all kinds of treatment. If you act rough towards it, it will likely become even rougher. This won’t be safe for your kids or anyone else in the household. Train it gently but firmly, and use positive reinforcement.
2. Don’t scream or jump around.
When a puppy bites you, it’s important to stay calm. We know, it probably hurts like heck, but try to contain yourself as much as possible. Imagine the scenario of getting your finger burnt in the toaster. You simply pull it away without any further drama.
If you act panicked, run around, scream, jump, or yell, your puppy may see you as a threat. And when a dog gets scared, it can attack you fiercely, which is obviously a bad thing.
Similarly, if you project a fearful energy, your puppy may see itself as having power over you and be even more emboldened to bite. It may also view it as a game. Instead of stopping the biting, it may have a go at you one more time.
The best way to react to a puppy bite is to move your hand away fast and remain calm and assertive. It will understand that you are not comfortable with its biting, but it won’t produce any of the negative effects above.
3. Don’t make it overexcited.
It’s okay to play with your puppy. In fact, we recommend using toys when the puppy is teething, as it helps in diverting the puppy’s attention away from biting you or your kids. Play with it to keep it active. However, don’t take the playing too far to the extent that your puppy gets overexcited.
Over-excitement can make it turn aggressive, causing more biting than necessary. At this point, instructing it to stop may fall on deaf ears. You may see it pounce on your hands and feet and you won’t be able to calm it down.
4. Don’t use multiple methods at the same time.
When you train your dog to stop biting, it is prudent to apply one method at a time. Observe how it responds to the training and see if there’s a need to introduce a different method. Sharp dogs will always learn fast. You may not need to use many methods at all.
However, some other puppies may only respond to certain training techniques. For instance, a puppy may simply ignore a yelp and respond to water sprayed in its face. If you yelp for some time without any success, you may notice that this doesn’t work for your dog and employ another method.
How will you know what your dog responds to if you employ many methods at the same time? A good example is when you yelp and spray water at the same time. In this case, you won’t be able to tell what exactly caused your puppy to withdraw.
Apply one method at a time and isolate what works well with your dog. The earlier you identify it, the better. You don’t want to keep training your dog for ages. A puppy can learn fast at a younger age.
Puppies must go through the nipping, mouthing, and biting phase to some degree. However, you should train it to behave safely such that no one gets injured in the process, including itself.
You don’t have to apply all these tips. Just identify what works well for your puppy and run with it. Be careful not to hit your puppy as a way of getting it to stop biting; this may cause growling and potential aggressiveness and hostility.
While most puppies will respond positively to the above strategies, sometimes they won’t work, and in that case, you may need to seek professional help.
But professional dog trainers (who can also handle aggression problems) can be extremely expensive – something like $500 for 3 hours, or even more. Most people can’t afford this amount for just 3 hours of help.
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Best of luck in training your puppy!