Playing with your puppy is indeed a splendid experience ….at least until little Fido gets carried away and starts biting. For the little one, it may feel like it’s part of the game like nothing special happened. For you, it might feel a bit too real. What follows is a short, but comprehensive guide on how to train your little puppy to control its jaw and develop bite inhibition.
But before going into how to deal with this type of behavior, we need to understand why is so, why little puppies are into hard biting during play. Is that typical behavior or an introduction to something else, something more concerning?
Common Reason Why Puppies Bite
Very often little pups like to bite during play. For them, that’s part of the play. They have no control over how strong their bite is and don’t know the effect it has on the receiving party. The receiving party can be another puppy, their mother, or some of the humans that take care of it.
Another reason why they are so much into biting is that they are losing their baby teeth, the permanent teeth are coming out. As a result, the pup needs something to chew on to get some relief from the process.
It is a very sensitive period for them, a period in which they are in pain, and their only relief is in biting and chewing things. But once that’s done, its business as usual with most pups. They stop chewing and biting on everything and anything.
Also, they like to sense things with their mouth more than with their paws. In that regard, they are like little human babies that like to put everything in their mouth. Grabbing someone for the hand or the leg is often nothing but experimenting for them. Their way to explore and understand what’s what. The fact that sometimes that might feel like biting has nothing to do with aggression or anything like that, but as said earlier, a lack of sense how strong their bite is.
In rare cases, it can be a sign of developing aggressive behaviour. That’s something way more concerning than the reasons mentioned before. In such cases, it is for the best to consult a professional trainer. That way the professional can find out the root of that and suggest ways how to reverse that aggressive behavior.
Ways To Train Your Puppy To Stop Biting
Cesar Milan, one of the world’s most renowned dog trainers, recommends a relatively simple technique to train your puppy to stop biting you or anyone else. What follows is the blueprint of how he deals with these situations.
There are no special skills needed. Just follow this advice and your dog should stop biting in no time.
For example, when your little puppy grabs your hand abit too strong, just let the hand go limp and make a yelping sound. Pretty much same as if you were another puppy on the receiving end. That will surely startle your furry friend and will signal him to let go.
In case the yelping does not affect it, go with one loud “Ow”, “Ouuuuch” or another spoken deterrent. Play for fifteen minutes or so, repeat the process (yelp and limp) two or three times and stop.
The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to try to pull your hand from the bite. Doing so can trigger its instinct and further complicate things.
The idea is to train your puppy into what’s acceptable and not. You can teach it what a moderate bite is, or not to bite at all while playing. You can repeat the process every time it grabs your hand or finger, whatever or when the bite is a bit over the top. That way the puppy will either learn not to grab your hand at all, even though it’s only a game. That’s all that you need to do.
Other Helpful Methods & Techniques
Dogs like biting and chewing, as it is in their nature and there is no way around it. So, one of the best ways to distract it from biting you is to give it something else to bite and chew. Nowadays, there are all sorts of dog toys specially designed for dogs to chew and bite on.
Also, you can replace your standard play with non-contact games such as tug of war or fetch. However, you need to be always on your toes when playing tugging and make sure that it doesn’t turn too aggressive. Your puppy needs to understand at least some of the basic commands like “leave it” or “let go”. That way you can safely remove whatever might be there in its mouth. Otherwise, the game of tugging can be an introduction to more aggressive behavior.
Lastly, you need to arrange some playtime for your puppy with other puppies out in the open. That way, it will learn what’s acceptable and what not through playing and interacting with other puppies.
Avoid Doing These!
- Don’t punish it. That can either further encourage it to the same behavior that you try to root out or trigger an aggressive reaction.
- Don’t let it play with children or anyone else. Not until it stops biting or learns how to grab things with its mouth without biting.
- Don’t teach it to bite everything but your hand. That can be counter-productive. Especially for your furniture and car seats.
- Don’t let this behavior last. If you don’t address it while your furry friend is just a puppy, you will have a much bigger problem once it is a full-grown dog as the bites will be even stronger.
What If Nothing Works?
If nothing works, and your puppy keeps on biting you need to consult with a professional dog trainer or someone more experienced than you. Aside from a professional trainer, you can also consult a veterinarian to check your dog’s teeth and mouth.