It is a common theme among puppy owner – how to stop a puppy from biting. Puppies are unaware of how sharp their teeth are and pain they can inflict on us. Since we love playing with puppies,our hands and faces often become prime target for their bites.It looks cute and adorable when your little furball is nibbling at your hands.This is why many pet owners make mistake of not correcting it right away. Puppy biting behavior should be address as early as possible.It is not uncommon for biting behavior to become problematic and overwhelming pretty quickly.
Why do puppies bite?
Puppies explore their environment through their mouth. When investigating their surrounding they bite and chew on anything and everything. They do not bite with an intent to cause pain. They bite to express their feeling of excitement, boredom and frustration.
Puppies are taught by their mother the consequences and impact of biting. They also learn bite inhibition with their litter mates and other valuable lessons through play. When one puppy bites other puppy too hard, bit puppy screams sharp yelp and stops playing. This sudden loud yelp shocks the puppy who did the biting and observes that litter mate is no longer playing with him/her.Over time, after few biting mishaps puppy eventually learns bite inhibition.
But puppies often miss out opportunity to socialize with other litter mates because they are adopted quite early in life. It is up to you to teach socially accepted behavior to your puppy.
Here are some approaches that explore underlying cause and ways to handle puppy biting behavior.
Understand why your puppy is biting
Puppy displays biting behavior for many different reasons. One of those reason might be that your puppy is hungry,thirsty or his/her need to excrete. It also stem from separation anxiety,fatigue or over excitement.
Remember when puppy bites you, it is trying to communicate his/her needs to you. Understanding these can help you address your puppy biting behavior and prevent it.
Redirect the Behavior
Biting is a natural behavior but it does not mean that it should be tolerated. If not corrected, it could lead to serious behavior problem when your puppy grows into an adult dog.
Show your puppy that you are in pain and let your hand go limp. Stop any interaction with puppy. This will surprise puppy and it should be repeated until puppy understands that biting hand is not ok.
Do not engage
If your puppy is engaged in biting your hand then immediately withdraw your hand. Walk away and ignore until your puppy calms down. Puppy must be trained that hard bite will result in withdrawal of not only hands but also from any fun activities or play.
Play with your puppy
Your puppy biting your hand may also signal that your puppy is bored.Take your puppy for walk. Play with your puppy often. It will be good source of exercise and mental simulation.
Provide puppy with feedback
When puppy bites your hand, let your puppy know not just hard bites are unacceptable, soft bites are also unnecessary. Eventually, your puppy will learn to control bite pressure and with repeated instructions it will stop biting behavior altogether. When it stops biting, give treats or praise which will reinforce the behavior.
Make good chew toys available to your puppy. Chew toys are great way to curb your puppy’s biting behavior. This will direct puppy’s attention from nipping at your hands to toys.
It is best not to give all chew toys at once. Give one and different toy at any time. This will maintain the newness of each toy.
One often overlooked reason for puppy biting is that puppies go through teething which is why they like to chew on cold items. You can ease their teething by providing them frozen wet cloth to chew.
Most puppies have strong distaste for bitter apple,white vinegar or lemon. You can use that to your advantage. You can spray them on your hand before or during play or right after your puppy starts to bite you.They will be repelled by the taste and will stop biting you.
If your puppy is chewing on furnitures, you can spray on appropriate surfaces to deter puppy from chewing.
Do not physically punish
This is absolutely no-no. This is a big mistake owners make when they try to stop a puppy biting. Hitting a puppy is not only counterproductive but also dangerous. It may encourage defensive behaviors.
You have to accept that puppy biting is a part of raising a puppy. Having a puppy is a bliss and a huge responsibility. Be patient and consistent with your training of puppy. It is important to teach acceptable behaviors early as correcting these behaviors once they mature into an adult dog can be very difficult.