When your puppy gives your hands "love bites" while playing, do you find it adorable? Unfortunately, when that practice is allowed to continue, this play biting can quickly become a dangerous habit that can cause injury to people and get adult dogs into a great deal of trouble. For this reason, it's important to train puppies not to bite at an early age.
Don't Encourage Play Biting
The first step in teaching your puppy not to bite is never, under any circumstances, encourage biting during play. Although most puppies are simply exuberant and are certainly not trying to be mean, play biting can easily grow into a bad habit as the puppy ages. In order to set your pup up for success and avoid problems in the future, don't ever encourage or allow play biting.
All puppies bite or chew at some point. In many cases, it is normal puppy play or teething behavior and in other cases, it is simply excitement. If you are interacting with your puppy and he begins to bite your fingers or hand, quickly and quietly remove your hand and provide him with an acceptable substitute, like a rawhide chew. This will help the dog learn from an early age that toys are acceptable to chew on but human hands are not.
Provide Ample Socialization
Whether you're training your dog to be brave and self-confident or not to bite, socialization is important. The socialized dog is one who has seen and experienced many things, and as a result, has learned to interact with the world, other dogs, and people without aggression or fear. Well-socialized puppies are less likely to bite, and as such, it's important to begin socializing your puppy at an early age. Provide your puppy with plenty of opportunities to interact with other dogs and encourage him to play nicely with canine and human companions of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Enrolling him in puppy pre-school classes is very helpful for this. Over time, your dog will learn to play properly and will be less inclined to bite as an adult.
Teach Your Dog "No"
There is almost nothing that is more effective during training than a firm and well understood "no." If your dog begins to bite your hand, immediately say "no" firmly and walk out of the room. Don't physically punish the dog or strike him in any way - simply leave the room and come back a few minutes later. If the puppy begins to bite you again, do the same thing. Over time, the dog will learn to associate the word "no" with being ignored, which will curb the biting habit and make your dog easier to train.
Biting may be normal puppy behavior, but it certainly shouldn't be carried into adulthood. By teaching your puppy not to bite at an early age, you lay a good foundation for future training and help your dog to become a friendly, gentle, and happy companion and playmate.