One of the first problems many pet owners encounter is that they don’t know how to stop a puppy from biting. Even if their puppy is friendly, many first-time dog owners are shocked to find out that puppies use their mouths to communicate with the world, and some breeds are worse than others for doing so!
Never fear. This is an extremely common issue dog owners face, and you aren’t the only one dealing with the issue.
Here’s everything you need to know about puppy biting.
How To Stop A Puppy From Biting -Why Puppies Bite
Puppies bite for many reasons. Very rarely, it’s because they’re aggressive and trying to hurt you — but even if they seem very forceful, it’s unlikely it’s for this reason.
Most likely, they’re biting for play. Puppies learn from their littermates that they can bite to play, and will often transfer this knowledge to humans without thinking. Usually, puppies are biting simply to interact with you!
Methods To Stop Them
There are a few effective methods you can use to stop a puppy from biting. You might have to try each of these out and check exactly what works for your puppy. All dogs are different, so what’s effective for one may not work for another.
How To Stop A Puppy From Biting – The Yelp
Puppies learn bite inhibition from their littermates when they’re very young. Their siblings will let them know they’re biting too hard by yelping, tell the puppy to back off.
You can use this as a human too. Yelp when your puppy bites you, to indicate that it hurts. When your puppy is biting you, they’re not trying to hurt you, so this is speaking their language to let them know that you don’t like it.
This works great for some dogs, and simply seems to excite others. Make sure the yelp is obvious and high-pitched for the best chance of success.
You can use timeouts when your puppy is biting too hard, but it’s important to do it as soon as they bite. Have a pen set up or a secure room you can place them in, to let them know that’s what happens when they bite.
Timeouts should never be for very long. Ten or twenty seconds is usually enough to get the message across.
You should also never use their crate for timeouts. You want them to associate their crate with safety and positivity if you’re crate-training.
Have plenty of toys and chews on hand to redirect them! Biting can get especially bad during teething, so pick up some toys to soothe them. You can also freeze baby carrots or a wet washcloth for them to gnaw on, which should help.
How To Stop A Puppy From Biting – Ignoring Them
The most effective method, but also the one that takes the most patience, is simply ignoring them. If your puppy starts biting you, get up and leave the room, or turn your back. Don’t engage with them anymore.
After a few days or weeks of this, they’ll learn that if they bite, playtime stops!
Methods You Should Never Use
You might hear owners advise you on other methods that seem harsher. Many people advocate slapping your puppy, pushing them to the ground, or using an e-collar to shock them if they bite.
These positive punishment methods should never be used, let alone on a small puppy. It might stop the biting, but it will also damage your relationship with your puppy. It might make them fearful and aggressive in the long run, and that’s the last thing you want.
These methods are wholly unnecessary, and research has shown that they simply do not work.
What If Nothing Works?
If nothing works on your puppy, it might be time to call in a professional trainer. They’re used to working with puppy biting and can help you out if you’re struggling.
It’s important not to lose patience too quickly and think nothing is working before the puppy is even grown. Teething lasts for months, and puppy behaviors are difficult to outgrow. If you’re going to commit to a puppy, it’s important that you realize the reality: puppies take many months to train!
This is especially true for some breeds that are more prone to puppy biting, such as herding breeds like Australian shepherds and border collies.
If the biting is truly aggressive, you should also consult a veterinarian. The reason for this is that the puppy might be in pain from an underlying cause and lashing out as a result. Medical problems should always be ruled out when dealing with aggression.
If you’ve been wondering how to stop a puppy from biting, don’t despair. It might seem like an overwhelming and impossible task, but as long as you have patience and use the right methods, it will pay off. Hang in there! It’ll be worth it.
Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.