3 Simple Methods To Stop Your Puppy From Biting
If you’ve recently adopted a puppy one of the first things you’re going to ask yourself is “Why is he biting so much?” Well either that or what in the hell have I gotten myself into.
Training your puppy to stop biting isn’t a fun process, but with a little bit of patience and consistency there are a few methods that work pretty well.
Puppies Are Jerks — That’s Why They’re So Cute
Puppies are just like babies in a few ways; they’re curious, they can be fussy, and they’re just starting to learn about the world around them. And guess what they use to explore this new world? Yep, those sharp little teeth.
Sure their litter mates and mom taught them a few things, but now it’s up to you to continue the process.
Puppies bite everything, and they bite a lot. It’s their way of exploring and learning about the people and things that surround them. While it might be funny for a minute it gets old pretty quick, especially if you’re the one on the receiving end.
Teaching your puppy not to bite is one of the first things you’re going to want to work on, especially if you have children.
Training a puppy isn’t on my list of fun and enjoyable activities; it’s a lot of hard work and as I said puppies are jerks. There’s a reason they’re so cute and that sole reason is to keep us from harming them. It doesn’t take long for the cuteness of a puppy to wear off as you find yourself constantly prying their mouth off of everything.
Bite Inhibition: Learning to Fill In The Gaps
One of the first things your new puppy needs to learn is how to how to control that mouth of his. Bite inhibition is a learned response where the dog consciously inhibits the force of his bite. Dogs start learning this behavior at a young age from their litter mates, but now you have to fill in the gaps.
Your puppy probably has a decent foundation of this behavior. While pups are nursing the mother dog will stand up and walk away if one of the pups bites too hard. When puppies are playing with their siblings they’ll yelp and stop playing if someone gets too rough. But problems can arise when the pup is introduced to his new human family and those same boundaries aren’t set and reinforced.
The good news is that this biting behavior isn’t permanent, the bad news is that it’s not always easy to train them out of their biting behavior. (and not to mention how much those puppy teeth hurt) As with us humans each dog is different and some dogs will require more consistency to break this nasty habit.
Three Methods To Stop Your Puppy From Biting
I’m not going to sugar coat this — teaching your puppy not to bite takes awhile. Most dogs aren’t going to catch on in one day and be done with it. And you better make sure your whole family is on board with the training process. Don’t let dad rough house with your pup & then expect him to calm down & be on his best behavior afterwards.
It takes a lot of consistency and patience from everyone involved.
Here’s the three techniques I found work best when training your new puppy not to bite.
1. Redirect Your Puppies Bites to Another Object
If you want to teach your puppy to stop biting you the best method to use is the redirection method. The redirection method goes like this:
- When your dog bites your skin give them a toy to chew instead
- If they don’t take the toy & keep biting you ignore them
- And by ignore them I mean be still because puppies like to chase stuff that moves – including your pant legs
Now I know it sounds fairly simple, but resisting that urge to pull away quickly is tough. But those quick actions can create more excitement in your pup which can make their biting worse.
For my dog Laika aka the biting monster we had a lot of success with the redirection method. Anytime she would get too rough and bite too hard I would stuff a toy in her mouth and get her to play with that instead. If she continued to try to go after my skin with those sharp teeth I would just stop playing altogether.
Now when it comes to stopping the play you need to make sure what you’re actually doing is becoming boring & dull. Your first instinct might be to walk away from the dog when they’re getting too rowdy. But that can make things worse since moving objects are always going to be more interesting to a puppy than something still.
This process took a long time for us, mostly because training myself to stay still & calm while getting bitten by a puppy was difficult. Eventually I caught on, and that calmness kept my dog from going full on puppy assault mode. Eventually she started bringing toys to me when she was in a feisty mood rather than grabbing onto my legs from the get go.
Tip: If you’re looking for a good toy your puppy can’t chew up in seconds check out our top 5 tough dog toy recommendations.
2. Socialization Will Help Stop Your Puppy From Biting
Sign your dog up for puppy kindergarten or socialization class. Not only will you get getting your dog the proper socialization he needs, but he’ll be picking up on lots of good doggie manners in the process.
They’ll be learning from other dogs that playing too rough isn’t tolerated and that it puts a quick stop to play time.
If you’re not going to puppy kindergarten try to continue to introduce your new puppy to other dogs in other situations. Socialization is often overlooked when it comes to training, but it’s one of the first things you should work on. Studies have shown that dogs that don’t receive proper socialization are more likely to have behavioral problems later on.
Studies like this indicate that it’s never too early to begin socialization and why dogs who don’t get sufficient human contact as puppies tend to be the most difficult to break of their fear of people later in life. – Animal Behavior College
Not only is socialization necessary for their social development – it makes bite inhibition training much easier. Having your puppy learn from other dogs is something you should take advantage of. Back before we domesticated them they were pack animals, so they’re pretty good at learning from their peers.
You’re still going to work on training bite inhibition at home. But socializing with other dogs can be invaluable when it comes to making the process much easier.
Tip: If you’re not able to sign up for a puppy class invite your friends or neighbors well behaved dogs over for some play dates.
3. Clicker Training Your Pup for Better Impulse Control
Clicker training is a good thing to teach your pup because it enables you to mark good behaviors in a consistent way. The clicker sound itself is used as a cue that your dog did something right. By using a sound cue you’re able to capture the exact moment he makes that good decision
So when you put your hand in front of your puppy & he doesn’t bite you’re going to click & give a treat. Part of learning bite inhibition is having your dog learn exactly what the boundaries are. Since clicker training allows for more precision it works really well for teaching bite inhibition.
How to Teach Bite Inhibition With a Clicker:
- Place your hand in front of your pup’s mouth, if he doesn’t bite give him a click, treat, and praise like crazy.
- When you’re comfortable that your pup isn’t going to bite your hand when you place it in front of his face you can up the ante.
- Start by slowly waving your hand in front of him, if he doesn’t bite it praise, click and treat.
Your goal here is to teach your puppy not to bite everything that comes near his face. Don’t set him up to fail. Start slowly, his first reaction might very well be to bite anything that comes near him.
Click and treat for small inhibitions and gradually up the stimuli. If you’re consistent you should end up with a puppy that isn’t going to reach out and try to bite anything that moves.
Just remember this activity will take a lot of practice. You’re building up his impulse control which isn’t something that can be trained in just a few sessions. Puppies need to learn boundaries and how to control their impulses just as children do. They need to learn that good things come to those that wait, or in this case good things come to puppies that don’t bite.
Should You Yelp When Your Puppy Bites You?
There are so many articles out there that tell you to yelp at your puppy when he bites you because it’ll make them stop. The theory is that your yelp is a clear signal to your puppy that he hurt you. Now maybe my yelps weren’t convincing enough but this method did not work at all with my dog. In fact it made her much worse.
Unfortunately the yelping method doesn’t work for many dogs. I still remember the first time I tried this with my puppy years ago – it made her come at me twice as hard. Many dogs become over stimulated by this strategy and it can make their biting worse. So please use with caution.
Teaching Bite Inhibition Takes Patience
Teaching bite inhibition was a real pain for me. It actually took a lot of time with both redirection and clicker training for it to finally start working. Don’t be completely discouraged if your pup is a bitey jerk, it’s just the way puppies are. Their one defense is their teeth so they’re going to use ’em.
If you praise enough when they’re behaving well and ignore them when they play rough they’ll catch on. They’ll start to understand the proper way to interact with their new human family; one that doesn’t involve sharp puppy teeth.
Here’s a good video from Applause Your Paws on how to stop a puppy from biting –
Photo by elisa416