If you have recently adopted a new puppy, there is a high likelihood that they will start chewing on objects and people while they are teething and trying to understand boundaries. In this article, our veterinarians in Seattle, will provide insights on how you can effectively minimize your puppy's tendency to nip and bite.

Why Does My Puppy Keep Biting Me?

Dogs use their mouths to explore and interact with their surroundings, which often involves biting things. Since they can't use their paws, they rely on their mouths for this purpose. It's important to note that biting is a normal part of a puppy's development, and most puppy owners have experienced it in some form. Puppies may bite due to a combination of curiosity and to alleviate the discomfort of teething.

How Long Does the Biting Stage Last in Puppies?

Every puppy is unique, but generally, the stage of biting and mouthing lasts for about three to six months. We understand that this can be a very frustrating time for new dog owners. However, please don't worry, as this stage will eventually pass. We are here to provide you with some helpful tips and tricks to help your puppy stop biting.

    How to Stop a Puppy From Biting

    It is common for puppies to bite, but if not addressed early on, it could develop into a long-term destructive habit. It is crucial to teach your puppy to control his mouthy behavior. There are several methods to train your puppy to stop mouthing and biting people altogether.

    Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition

    Learning how to moderate the force of a bite is crucial for all dogs. There may come a time when they feel pain or fear and put their mouth on someone, but if they have learned bite inhibition, they understand that they should not bite down hard.

    Puppies tend to nip at each other during playtime. If they bite too hard on their mother or littermate, the other dog will likely make a loud yelp sound, warning the puppy that they hurt them with the force of their bite.

    You can also teach this to your dog by making a high-pitched "ow" sound when they bite you, depending on the dog. However, be cautious because some dogs may get even more worked up and are likely to bite. In such cases, it is better to turn quietly around, walk away, or gently put the puppy into their crate for a few minutes to calm down.

    If they back off, make sure to reward your dog with a treat and some verbal praise. This way, they will understand that they did the right thing and learn to moderate the force of their bite.

    Redirect the behavior

    If your puppy is biting due to boredom or teething, redirect their biting towards their toys instead of your furniture. Encourage non-contact games like fetch and tug-of-war, instead of rough play that involves wrestling with your hands. Once your puppy can play tug safely, keep tug toys in your pocket or within easy reach.

    If your puppy starts mouthing you, you can redirect them towards the tug toy. If your puppy bites at your feet and ankles, keep their favorite tug toy in your pocket. When they ambush you, stop moving your feet and take out the tug toy, waving it enticingly. Once they grab the toy, start moving again.

    Offer Them Quiet Time or a Potty Break

    When you have a puppy who is biting, it's important to gently put them in their crate. This will give them a chance to calm down and prevent them from biting further.

    However, it's crucial to ensure that they don't associate the crate with punishment. So, you should remain calm while putting them in the crate. Once the pup has calmed down, you can let them out.

    Sometimes, a biting puppy is actually an over-tired puppy who needs some rest. In such cases, it's best to put them in a quiet space or crate to take a nap. Other times, they may need a potty break or be hungry or thirsty.

    Let Them Get Some Energy Out

    Exercising your puppy can be an effective way to curb puppy biting. Sometimes, puppies exhibit problematic behavior like biting when they don't get enough physical and mental stimulation. Therefore, providing them with adequate exercise can be an excellent way to help them overcome such behaviors.

    Reinforce the Behaviors You Want

    We often forget to reinforce good behavior in our puppies by praising them when they are calm and quiet, giving them a piece of kibble, and/or patting them. Positive reinforcement helps them understand what behaviors we expect from them.

    Puppy Classes Can Be a Lifesaver

    Taking your new puppy to a dog training class can be a safe and effective means of socialization and professional dog trainers can give you tips that can help curb your puppy's problematic behaviors such as biting. They have spent years learning how to train a puppy not to bite, so save yourself some frustration, and let the professionals take sure pressure off of you.

    Never Get Frustrated

    There will be times when you've reached your wit's end but it is so important to stay calm and never get mad at your puppy. They are still trying to figure out the world around them, and they look up to you to guide them. If you show them your frustration, it could cause them to fear you or make your bond less strong, which is the opposite of what you want.

    When Does Play Biting Become Aggression?

    Puppy nipping and biting are common behaviors, but some puppies may bite due to fear or frustration, which can indicate future aggression problems. During play, a puppy may have a temper tantrum, which can be more severe than playful mouthing. It may be challenging to distinguish between the two. A playful puppy will have a relaxed body and face, while a puppy throwing a temper tantrum may have a very stiff or frozen body and may expose its teeth or growl. Their bites are usually more painful than normal mouthing during play.

    If your puppy starts to throw a temper tantrum, avoid yelping as it may encourage the behavior. Instead, remain calm and unemotional. Hold your puppy firmly without constriction, if possible, until they stop struggling. Once they have calmed down for a moment or two, let them go. It's essential to contact a qualified professional for help if your puppy repeatedly bites in frustration. This behavior is not something that the puppy will grow out of, so it should be assessed and resolved as soon as possible.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    If you've just brought home a new puppy, contact our Seattle vets to discuss any behavioral issues your puppy may be experiencing.