Like human babies, puppies use their mouths to explore and learn about their world. And as most people familiar with puppies know, they have very sharp little teeth, which can be quite uncomfortable when they come into contact with human skin. Because they are babies, puppies need to learn that this behavior is not allowed and the sooner the better – because a puppy that learns biting is not acceptable will grow up to be an adult dog that knows biting humans is unacceptable. In an effort to help new puppy parents combat the ill-effects of biting, we thought we would share a few helpful tips.
One way you can show and tell your puppy that biting hurts is to let out a human version of a doggie yelp, which is usually how a puppy learns from another dog that biting hurts. This can be a loud, sharp ouch! Or other sound that tells your puppy that his biting is hurting you. Because he will be surprised by your shriek, He should let go. When your pup stops or starts to lick you, love him up a little bit to let him know that stopping is good and trying to make you feel better with a puppy kiss is great and more importantly, you still love him.
If “yelping” does not work, another way you can let your puppy know that biting is not allowed is by giving her a time-out which is essentially ignoring her for 30 seconds. Stop what you are doing and just wait. Your dog will be able to associate this negative response with their biting and learn that if they bite, playtime ends. Return to playing but make sure it is nice and easy going – not rough and tumble.
Substitution and redirection
Another way you can let your pup know that biting has to stop is by having some of their favorite chew toys, pull toys and treats available. If puppy tries to nip at your hand (or other parts of your body – feet and ankles are popular) immediately substitute their favorite toy or treat to show them this is where their teeth should go.
Dogs learn really well from other dogs. So why not set your puppy up on a playdate with another puppy or older (vaccinated) adult dog? When a puppy bites another puppy or older dog, that dog will naturally yelp and play will stop for a moment. This is a natural way for your dog to learn that biting hurts.
Available on the market today are bitter tasting sprays and other products that can be found at your pet supply store. What these items allow you to do is spray your hand or other place you find your puppy biting with an unpleasant tasting, non-toxic substance that your puppy won’t be able to tolerate. Thus, if she bites you, she will taste the fowl tasting spray and will immediately stop and will then associate biting with a very bad taste.
Always remember to reward you pooch with their favorite treats and lots of pets when they are behaving the way you want them to behave.
Do not ever hit or violently yell at your puppy. All that will do is make your puppy fearful and sad. Gentle, yet stern consistency is always the way to go when trying to teach your puppy biting is unacceptable. If you feel your temper is getting the best of you, leave the room and take a few moments for yourself.