How To Stop Puppy Biting
So your cute little puppy's teeth hurt like hell! This will help you understand why and give you tips to help stop it.
You're covered in scars from those razor-sharp teeth. You yelped loudly, mimicking another puppy, only to find that after you startled your puppy they just came back at you harder. You stood over your puppy giving them the firm cue **NO BITE **whilst waving a finger in their face. They barked and snapped at you. You're now regretting buying this puppy as it's showing signs of aggression already. Sound familiar?
Let's Talk Teeth
Our puppies have needle-sharp teeth. They are so sharp to compensate for the lack of power a puppy has in its jaw. Luckily, as the jaw strengthens those sharp baby teeth get pushed out by a full set of adult teeth. Biting does ease as a puppy matures so I guess the good news is that this stage will pass. However, here are a few tips to help get you through it.
We need to figure out why your puppy is biting. Redirection is great, if a puppy is being playful getting them to bite on a toy (instead of you) will work well. You can also end the game if they put their teeth on your skin as a way of teaching them what is acceptable. However, putting a toy into a puppy's mouth when it is trying to communicate something different will not work. If they are not interested in the toy, you may come to the conclusion that redirection doesn't work.
So let's look at the other reasons that can make puppy bite a little more than normal:
TEETHING - Pain will cause a grumpy puppy. Provide them with lots of cold or frozen chews to help ease their pain.
HUNGER - Puppies need to eat 3 - 4 small meals throughout the day. So make sure they're getting enough food on a regular basis.
OVER-TIRED - If you've ever lived with a toddler you can relate! Your cute little puppy has turned into a demon and just won't play nice, looks like a nap is well overdue. Put your puppy in their den with a chew let them get some much-needed rest.
OVER-AROUSAL- The puppy has been playing but it's going on too long and they are getting over-excited. It will get really hard for them not to use their mouths. This usually happens when playing with children therefore it is important that children are always supervised when playing with your puppy. You want to avoid your puppy getting to this state of over-arousal as this is when accidents WILL happen.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE - Making sure your puppy is getting a little physical exercise. Going on walks where your puppy can sniff and learn about their new surroundings will help them be more relaxed in the evening. Always speak with your vet about the correct amount of physical exercise for your breed and age.
MENTAL EXERCISE - Enrichment, by this I mean your snuffle mats, Kongs, or some training. All these things stimulate your puppy's brain and will help to relax them. A bored puppy may just be biting you as it's looking a little entertainment. Playing tug and fetch are also great ways to start teaching them the cues 'drop' and 'leave', along with a little self-control.
DEFENSIVE BITING - This one is so important and needs addressing promptly. If your puppy bites at you when you attempt to pick them up, put on their collar or when petting them. Your puppy is trying to communicate to you DON'T DO THAT! We need to do lots of work to make your puppy more comfortable with approaching hands. Lots of hand-feeding exercises will teach your puppy that hands are kind. Try not to pick your puppy up too much. I always imagine it's like a slingshot at the funfair where you just get whisked off the ground and flung 5-6 feet in the air, only with little warning or choice. We all love a cuddle with our puppies but we can sit on the floor to get them.
Defensive biting can also occur when you try to take something away from your puppy. Teaching your puppy to trade their treasures for something even better is the best way to start to remedy this. Don't open your puppy's mouth and forcefully remove whatever is in there. You will make the problem worse and could be on your way to living with what we call a 'resource guarder', which will require the help of a canine behaviorist, and even then, they may never fully get it under control.
Let a trainer know if your puppy is displaying signs of defensive biting so you can work on this as soon as possible.
Good Luck with the biting stage we know it is frustrating but it will pass and you will forget all about it.