Introduction to How to Get a Puppy to Stop Biting Guide
It helps to understand just why puppies like to use their teeth.
Like human babies, puppies explore their world by mouthing items they encounter.
This means everything goes into their mouth, whether it’s appropriate or not like human hands, feet, fingers, and toes!
Puppies also like to play tough.
With their littermates, this involves rough-and-tumble play with lots of mouthing and biting.
At first, the young pups have no teeth and mouthing doesn’t hurt.
As their milk teeth come in, biting hurts but the pups can often tolerate this rough play, as they have thick skins and give as good as they get.
Puppies spend a great deal of time playing, chewing, and investigating objects.
All of these normal activities involve puppies using their mouths and their needle-sharp teeth.
When puppies play with people, they often bite, chew, and mouth on people’s hands, limbs and clothing.
This kind of behavior may seem cute when your puppy is seven weeks old, but it’s not nearly so endearing when he’s three or four months old and getting bigger by the day.
Why Is Puppy Biting?
Puppy biting is normal behavior, some puppies bite out of fear or frustration, and this type of biting can signal problems with future aggression.
Puppies sometimes have temper tantrums, usually, tantrums happen when you’re making a puppy do something he doesn’t like.
It’s normal for puppies to use their teeth during play and exploration, like human babies, it’s how they learn about the world, and it plays an important role in their socialization.
And puppies are also going to chew on everything while they are teething.
How Long Will Puppy Biting Last?
Puppy biting will stop by the time your puppy has his full set of grown-up teeth at 7 months. Puppies bite because they are teething, but they also bite in play.
Puppy teeth come in as early as 2 weeks after they are born, so, while nipping starts young, puppies are usually still with their moms and breeders.
It isn’t until they are about four months old that those needle-sharp puppy teeth fall out to make room for adult teeth right around the same time they are coming home to your house.
As anyone who has been anywhere near a teething baby can tell you, the process of growing new teeth is not fun.
Painful gums, drooling, and of course, chewing, biting, and nipping are all signs that your puppy has his big boy teeth coming in.
Providing your pup with chew toys and training him to avoid gnawing on furniture or feet will go a long way to help mitigate the biting as well as soothe his mouth and gums.
Although it might feel like forever, most puppies are biting and mouthing much less by the time they are 8-10 months old, and fully grown adult dogs (older than 2-3 years) virtually never use their mouths the way that puppies do.
Adult teeth start to come in around 12-16 weeks of age, and during this time, you may see an increase in chewing on objects or on you. Your puppy’s gums may be a bit sore as they lose puppy teeth and adult teeth come in.
What to Do if Your Puppy’s Teething
Puppy teething toys can be offered when your puppy is old enough to teethe.
These teething toys ease sore gums and are typically made with softer plastic so they won’t hurt the baby teeth or incoming adult teeth.
Supervise your puppy when they play with any toys to make sure that they do not chew off small pieces and swallow them.
Some puppies will exhibit a play bow, and other puppies approach and nip or bite the other puppy’s leg to entice them to play.
When puppies bite each other, they learn a very important skill: bite inhibition.
With play biting, puppies learn how much pressure they can apply with their teeth and what happens when they apply that amount of pressure.
Through this interaction, a puppy learns that if he bites that hard, other puppies won’t play with him.
So puppy makes his play bites softer so they don’t provoke pain and cause other puppies to leave.
Some puppies may learn through a one-time process, while other puppies need multiple play sessions with multiple puppies to learn to soften their bite.
Your puppy will try to engage in play by biting you because, to them, this is part of normal dog behavior.
When this happens, you will have to teach your puppy not to bite in terms that they understand.
Steps Stopping Your Dog From Biting
Puppies start off with 28 little mini-razors that fall out over the course of several months, most dogs start losing their baby teeth between 4 and 6 months old, and they tend to become chewing maniacs during that time some continue to lose teeth until about 9 months old.
After they lose their baby teeth, however, they don’t need to chew to relieve mouth pain it is important to begin correcting against nipping and biting behavior because a playful chomp from a mouth full of baby teeth may not be very comfortable, but a mouth full of full-sized dog teeth can be severe.
You can start training a puppy not to nip at around 6 to 8 weeks old, but he might not be able to stop himself during the teething process.
Be patient during this stage; it can be uncomfortable for the puppy, but it doesn’t last long.
Dogs repeat behaviors they find rewarding a puppy will find mouthing rewarding, and particularly so whilst they are learning about the world around them and whilst they are teething.
The more you yelp, tell them off, or quickly move your limb, or clothing away, or push the dog off the more likely they are to think the game is on, and enjoy it so it’s even more rewarding, and therefore even more likely to be repeated.
Withdrawing from the puppy is much more likely to get the right message across, but it’s not always easy to do that with a puppy hanging on to the bottom of your trousers.
Turn your face away to blank the puppy, tuck your limbs in as much as possible and the puppy may stop.
If that doesn’t work, stand up and/or walk away, you may even have to walk out of the room for a few seconds.
Always better to be one step ahead with your puppy, work out when they are likely to mouth and provide them with something that they can mouth on so if they are running towards you with your trouser legs on their mind, interact with them with their favorite tuggy or chewing toy before they get to your trousers.
Have a treat ready so that you can get their attention and ask for behavior they know, before rewarding them with it or in an emergency, scatter a handful of treats on the floor to get your puppy to change thought processes and actions.
Also, think about the clothing that you’re wearing.
Things that are loose and inclined to flap are likely to be more enticing to the puppy
Handling and grooming your puppy are times that will often lead to mouthing, so whilst they are learning to accept being handled and groomed, keep sessions short and give them something to occupy their mouths like a small stuffed kong.
Using a second family member can be invaluable getting them to entertain the head end, whilst you do the grooming.
Also, pick times of day when your puppy is likely to be quieter and just before they are ready for a nap.
Make sure that you provide your puppy with lots of safe toys for them to chew and change them regularly to keep it interesting this will give them an outlet for this behavior and may save your furniture from being the subject of unwanted interest.
Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition
Learning how to moderate the force of a bite is very important for all dogs.
There may come a time when they’re in pain or fearful, and they put their mouth on you or someone else.
But if they’ve learned bite inhibition, they understand that they shouldn’t bite down hard.
Puppies naturally nip at each other while playing.
Depending on the dog, you can teach this, as well, by making a high-pitched “ow!” sound if they bite you.
Beware though, because, for some puppies, this actually gets them even more worked up and likely to bite.
In this case, it is better to turn quietly around, walk away, or gently put the pup into their crate for a few minutes to calm down.
If they do back off, be sure to reward your dog with a treat and some verbal praise.
If your puppy bites you while playing, that means playtime is over, with no exceptions.
Yelling at or physically punishing your puppy, as strange as it sounds, is also a type of reward.
It teaches them that biting gets some kind of response from you, which is known as negative reinforcement.
This can also make them fearful of being handled. Instead, teach them that biting will get them nothing.
It’s a good idea to keep a puppy chew toy at hand at all times, so you can anticipate biting behavior and substitute the toy for your hand or furniture.
Doing so will let pups know what is OK to bite or chew if they start nibbling at your fingers or toes while you’re playing, offer a toy instead.
Again, if they continue to nip, stop the play session immediately.
If you’ve been training your puppy to sit, you might also redirect them by asking them to sit and rewarding them with a toy.