It’s common for puppy owners to experience “biting” or “nipping”, many wonder what to do and if this is a sign of larger behavioral issue.
While many of us love our puppies like they are our own children, we have to remember they are not humans and therefore they do not think like humans. One of the primary ways that puppies communicate and explore the world is with their mouths. It is almost always the case that your puppy is not biting you with the intention of hurting you but instead they are communicating, feeling and trying to learn more about their world. Puppies also experience a teething process that can last up to six months, so it may be that your puppy is simply seeking comfort. So how do you stop your puppy from biting?
Here are a few insights into why puppies bite:
- Realize that letting your puppy bite you is not exactly a bad thing. In fact when puppies bite their littermates they’re usually not bothered unless the bite is too hard. This is how puppies learn what is called: bite inhibition. Bite inhibition teaches the puppy exactly how hard they can bite without inflicting pain. In the absence of litter mates they may use you!
- While it may sound simple, consider verbally letting your puppy know they’ve bit too hard. Yelling “ouch!” when your puppy bites you will communicate that they have gone too far. This one way to help your puppy make the distinction between play and non-play.
- In addition to verbally letting your puppy know it hurts, the next time your puppy is biting you can communicate your displeasure by ignoring or ceasing to play with them for a few minutes. Ignoring your puppy may have more of an effect on them than you realize. Puppies seek our affection and when you remove that they will almost always stop what they are doing.
- Of course, combining the steps might be the most effective way to reduce nipping and biting. Try verbally communicating with an “ouch!” when your puppy bites and follow that by briefly ignoring your puppy. This will teach the dog that biting humans will lead to a timeout during playtime. Over time this is usually the most effective way to limit biting and establish good behaviors for your puppy as they mature.
- If you suspect your puppy is dealing with discomfort and teething rather than learning and exploring you may want to consider some teething options as well. We will update with a post on what to do with a teething pup soon!
- While it can be frustrating you always want to avoid being verbally or physically abusive to puppies in order to correct behavior. A simple ouch is much different than loud insults, or physically holding the puppy’s mouth closed. Using tactics like these can alienate your puppy and lead to more severe behavior issues in the long run.
We hope you find this insight useful, and the tips offer you some alternatives to try with your puppy the next time they are being feisty. You may always email us for training requests and we will do our best to help.
-Puppy Connector training team