Puppy Biting Guide

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Biting hurts. And puppy biting can hurt a lot. It’s sometimes relentless and in some cases it’s pretty scary. But puppy biting is also 100% normal. In fact, it’s a necessary part of puppy development.

Young puppies who are clamping down on everything and everyone are learning the strength of their own mouths. It’s all play but there’s serious work going on here. They’re discovering how hard they have to bite to get a reaction from – another puppy, or the cat, or the older dog in your household, or you.

Here’s the cool part. We can influence this process. We can actually teach a puppy to inhibit his bite (it’s called acquired bite inhibition). Here’s how it works:

Keep your hands away from your puppy’s mouth.

It’s not a good idea for your puppy to bite on you every time the two of you hang out together. Set your puppy up to succeed by keeping your hands away from his mouth. Certainly don’t play with your puppy by tempting him and exciting him with your flailing hands (that’s what toys are for). Instead pet your puppy nicely and keep your hands near his neck and midsection.

Accidents Happen (soft bites)

Occasionally your puppy might put his teeth on your hands or arms lightly. Accidents happen, and you don’t want to fuss at your dog every time he lands a harmless play bite.

Children should be supervised at all times with the puppy, and even soft biting should be interrupted.

OUCH! Time Out (hard bites)

Hard bites are another story. When your puppy bites you a little harder than usual, immediately let him know how much it hurt. There’s no need to act like a dog by yelping. But you may decide to play act a bit. Ham it up. Yell OUCH as convincingly and indignantly as you can. Then end the puppy’s play session by leaving the room for a minute. Keep this up until you find your puppy is biting more softly more often. In time, you will begin discouraging all biting in the same way.