They are brand new and the world is this exciting place full of interesting things to sink teeth in. That’s probably how your puppy sees the new world. They use their mouth to interact with everything and this is why they are always biting.
It’s cute when they have tiny little teeth that tickle but as the teeth grow, it starts to hurt. Puppy biting is a normal puppy behaviour but contrary to our beliefs, it doesn’t get better as they grow, unless we intervene and teach them how to behave like good dogs.
How To Stop Puppy Biting?
Here are a few tips and tricks
While they are chomping on your fingers you must show them where biting is acceptable and where it’s not. So when they come at your fingers, show them a squeaky toy or a tug toy to pique their interest.
If they play with the toy praise them and engage in play. Try not to be too rough when you pull the toy because their jaws are still developing. It’s more important to engage in play and re-direct them on the toy when they come at your fingers.
Treats are a great way to engage them as well. Whenever they come to you to bite your fingers re-direct them with a treat. Praise them for biting the treat and not your hands and legs.
There is no exact rule but you need to try toys and treats during this phase. Sometimes puppies are in the mood to play, hence treats work better. Other times, they are hungry and treats work better. You need to try a bit of both to see what works at what time.
Don’t use high-calorie treats. Chances are, you will need a lot of treats, often. High-calorie treats will make them put on some unwanted weight. Instead, you can boil a bit of chicken, turkey or any other lean white meat and use it as treats. It’s easy to break cooked chicken into small shreds and it’s light on the stomach as well.
You can also find training treats in the market. It will help you save time and make training effective for your dog.
3. ‘No’ Sound
When puppies are with their littermates, their siblings will let them know when the bites are hurting by whelping. This gives the puppy signals that they are being too rough and they need to stop. After a few seconds, they start playing again; this time they are much more gentle.
You can have a no sound just like that. You can make a shrill noise like how a puppy would, or you can sternly (not loudly) say no.
Remember, dogs don’t just communicate with their mouth but with their entire body. So while you say no, don’t keep engaging them with your hands. This will give them mixed signals. Instead, you can make your hand go limp and unexciting.
4. Time Outs
Sometimes your puppy is just way too hyper and they are just going at your hands and legs like it’s a piece of meat. During this time it’s best to give them a time out for a few minutes. You can use a small room or a baby gate, just make sure it is puppy proof.
Bring them back after 1 or 2 minutes. Let them know they can play with you as long as they don’t nip your fingers.
Some puppies just bite more than others. If you don’t want a mouthy puppy, you should check the litter first. Here are some ways to make sure the puppy is a little trained before they come to you.
5. Bring In The Playful Mate
Look at the litter very carefully. The puppies have established a hierarchy. There is the:
- Dominating puppy – the class bully; they are usually the first in the litter. They are also slightly bigger than the others and they always use their size to get what they want
- Playful puppy – socialite; this puppy interacts with everyone from the mother to the runt. They play with everyone and has a lot of energy.
- Goofy puppy – the class clown; this puppy is a little goofy. S/he will play with others but is always the first to call quits. They take longer than others to learn new things but they do catch on.
- Lonely puppy – loner; this puppy is usually the last born. They don’t interact with the other puppies as such because they are slightly smaller and always get bullied.
If you are able to pick a puppy by seeing the litter, we would suggest picking the playful puppy or the goofy puppy. They all bite but playful puppies have had enough practice with their siblings and mother to know when they are biting too hard. They know how to play by the rules.
Dominating puppies may throw tantrums and bite hard when they don’t get their way. Whereas the lonely puppy never played by the rules they don’t know how hard is too hard. Chances are, when you whelp to show pain to the lonely puppy, they won’t understand because they were never allowed to play with the big kids.
Any puppy can be trained to not play-bite but some take longer to learn. With firstborns and last borns, you need to be prepared to do the effort.
When Are You Bringing The Puppy Home?
Puppies learn a lot from their mothers and playmates and that’s why it is vital for them to spend their initial days and weeks with their mothers. When we take puppies before they are weaned from their mother’s milk (which is at 2-2.5 months) we can expect a lot of puppy biting and aggression.
This is a common behaviour in puppies brought from puppy mills. Which is why we urge you never to buy puppies from black markets. If you really want to buy a puppy, buy it from a licensed breeder who follows the rules and regulations of dog breeding in India. Puppies from mills not only have a biting and nipping issue, but they may also grow up to have a lot of aggression.
Lastly, you must be patient. You may have brought the best puppy from the best breeder, but you must still be patient. Puppies are eager to learn but they will test their boundaries hence you must teach them that it’s never okay to nip people.
Don’t shout or hurt them, this will send the wrong signals and they will think you are playing rough with them. Or, they become very scared which will make them aggressive later on.
Puppy biting is a phase and you cannot fix it overnight. The only way to fix it is to listen, teach and learn. All the best!