Can you stop a puppy from biting? Is biting people normal for a puppy? What’s the difference
between nipping and biting, if any? When should I be concerned about my puppy’s biting? Should I give him a ‘toy’ when he bites me to distract him?
Do any of these questions sound familiar to you? If you are a new puppy mom or dad I can assure you that if you’ve asked these questions your on the right track now that you’re looking for answers.What’s biting?
I’ve titled this article ‘puppy biting’… To reduce the risk of people thinking their dogs behaviors don’t qualify as ‘biting’ Let me clarify the meaning of puppy biting, OK? Often dog owners use terms to soften the discussion about their dogs behaviors (and unfortunately delay addressing a potentially serious issue until much later). So let’s address this semantic use of terms right up front: nipping = biting= nibbling= chomping= kinda nipping= kinda biting= mouthing= (fill in yours). Here’s a few of the most frequently asked questions I receive about puppy biting:“Is puppy biting a person normal behavior?”
A puppy uses his mouth to pick up objects, chew or teething. Puppies use their mouths as a normal part of the development to adolescent then adult dog. They use their mouths- in their so far- short lives to play with their litter-mates, pick up objects, chew just about everything including their food and now they’re chewing on you. Sure, it’s normal. Just because its Normal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.“What age should you I let my puppy know that their mouth on my (insert any body part or clothing) isn’t acceptable?From the start. I mean immediately. Train yourself and your adult family members that ANY mouth contact from your new puppy is not allowed. Make your life easier and the training clear as possible for your new dog. Think of ANY dog behavior in terms of Yes= allow it, or NO= Never allow it. Most new dog moms and dads put up with, or allow puppy nipping until it becomes painful or problematic. But by then your new cuddly puppy has had lots of ‘training’ that it’s all right to use his mouth on you. It’s OK until he becomes a ‘Franken-Puppy’…
“Can I give my dog something he can chew on when he starts to chew on me or my clothing?”
No. I mean not immediately. If your dog uses his mouth on you and you immediately put an ‘acceptable’ dog toy in his mouth he learns that way to ‘ask’ for the toy is to ask by chomping on you. Substituting this way is not only painful to humans, but it doesn’t communicate to your dog that the biting itself is not acceptable. Training the dog that ANY mouth contact is unacceptable is not only the quickest way for dogs to learn its also the fairest way to teach them.
“If my puppy’s biting doesn’t hurt me then why can’t I allow it for now?”
Sure. I hear this question a LOT. I’m really glad people are asking rather than assuming. You’re right you can’t (or shouldn’t). There’s a number of reasons. First, If you are the only one who ever has contact with your dog, then sure. YOu’re only training your dog to interact with you. Most families have more than one person who come into contact with the dog at some point. If the dogs biting is unwelcome by even one person than the behavior is problematic and potentially dangerous. Secondly, the level of pressure exerted by the dogs mouth to you may not cause you discomfort of pain. But will that same level of pressure be welcome by every other person who has contact with your dog? Its unreasonable, impossible to train and unfair to the dog and humans to think that a puppy should be expected to know the ‘acceptable’ level of bite pressure for each and evey person they come into contact with. Lastly, the longer a behavior is allowed to continue the more that behavior becomes trained into your dog as acceptable.
How to stop puppy biting-
Unfortunately in this article we can’t get into as much detail as I would like. (feel free to sign up for the training emails or videos for more detailed help) First is the Stopping of the behavior; you find yourself with a cute, furry, noisy mouth upon your hand, arm or clothing what do you do? Make a very loud noise or create some distraction of significance that started the dog. Talking, saying no, having a discussion will only prolong the interaction. Your goal is to, as quickly and abruptly as possible STOP the behavior. The longer you continue to talk, make eye contact, squirm or gently put your hand on him only serve to train him that biting you makes you a fun squeaky toy.
Prevention- keep your dog on leash in the house. Let him drag the leash around but keep him in sight at all times. The leash is one of the safest, least expensive and most effective tools for training. Besides, having a short 4-6 foot leash on your dog eliminates the need for your hand to have to ‘collar grab’ him. Collar grabs are one of the most common reasons for dog bites.
If you want more help with your dog and answers to your training questions feel free to submit them here. Sign up to receive free updates and FREE training videos as they become available on our site or YouTube channel..