How do we train our puppy not to bite when playing?

Asked by Alec

1 Answer

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Mouthing, chewing and biting behaviour is very normal in puppies. They are like children, they learn by putting things in their mouths. However, it is very important that they learn at a young age that biting is not acceptable and eventually you must ensure they also loose any mouthing behaviour, which can be intimidating in adult dogs.

If you watch a litter of puppies playing, they are all chewing and mouthing each other all the time. However, at the point where one puppy bites another too hard, the puppy that is bitten will yelp and move away. The message being; if you bite me that hard, I am not going to play with you. This is one of the reasons why it is so important puppies stay together in the litter until they are eight weeks old. It is only when they are this age that lessons like bite inhibition are learnt.

So, when you are playing with your puppy and they get over-excited and bite you too hard, you need to act like it’s litter mates would! I find making a high pitched noise, like ‘ouch!’ or ‘no!’ and holding your hands up and out of the way is often enough to make the puppy stop what they are doing. Don’t point when you say no, this just presents your finger as an easy target to aim for with their teeth.

Also, although often it can seem like it was a mistake on their part, or just over-excitement, don’t let them get away with it. It could easily have been an accident but they are still paying attention to how you are reacting to them and if they get away with it, they will definitely do it again.

You don’t need to halt the play entirely, you just need to make your puppy stop biting and then turn their attention to a different toy or game.

However, I find sometimes they are just too over-excited to listen and will continue to try to nip or chase you. Then, I advise using a puppy version of the naughty step; pick them up, do not talk to them or look at them, and place them outside the room and shut the door. Only for a few seconds and then let them back in and start a new game or bit of training.

Again, this really reinforces the idea that if they play rough, they cannot play at all.

It is also super important that all members of the family follow these rules so your puppy receives a constant message from everyone about what is acceptable and how to play nicely, so they grow up into a well mannered and lovely adult! | 03.08.16 @ 21:57
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 08.20.17 @ 19:21
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