How to... Stop your Puppy Biting & Nipping
Updated: Jun 18
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Your dreams were occupied by idyllic images of a gorgeous little puppy who would snuggle up and want lots of cuddles....... but you appear to have ended up with a cute looking monster, strike that, a vampire dog!
Puppy mouthing may be cute at the beginning, but as your pup grows, these little nips can turn into really painful bites.
Their teeth are pincer sharp and can easily puncture skin, especially as they are initially unaware of how hard they’re biting or how much it hurts you.
Whilst this is a completely natural canine behaviour during the puppy stage, it is absolutely crucial to let your puppy know what is and more importantly what isn’t allowed to be chewed on.
The quicker they learn that teeth and skin don't mix the easier your life will be.
Want to learn how to get a puppy to stop biting? Read on .........
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to Train Puppy Bite Inhibition
Be Kind to Yourself
Firstly, cut yourself some slack. Try and find your inner voice which is warm and supportive not the one which shouts “This will never end, it’s a nightmare!” Celebrate the small steps you are taking with your puppy and consciously give yourself a pat on the back for even the slightest win.
Whichever method you choose to adopt, make sure everyone in the family knows exactly what to do. A united front is absolutely key (probably more important than the method your choose), it’s pointless one member of the family shouting and waving their arms around and another being calm, it just leads to confusion.
To stop puppy biting, anyone who plays with the dog has to teach him that teeth and skin don't mix!
The next piece of advice when constantly confronted by puppy biting, is to stay calm. Easier said than done.
If you think that you are at the end of your tether, don’t be a martyr, swap with someone else, leave the room and take some well-deserved time out. Only return to the situation when you feel able. Losing your temper or raising your voice will only make it worse.
Learn Puppy Language
Your puppy doesn’t understand a single word you’re saying, but they are learning your body language. Keep it simple, always use your body not your words.
So, let’s take a look at the different training techniques that experts recommend?
Our Guide to Stopping Puppy Biting
1. Stop and Keep Still
Any time your puppy places teeth on you, stop and go completely still. If your puppy continues, turn away and cross your arms – a clear signal that your attention has been withdrawn.
If this doesn’t work, move away leaving them to calm down for a moment before going back. Once your puppy is calm you can praise them. Your puppy should learn that mouthing means that all fun ends. Do this every single time your puppy makes a mistake.
Ultimately this method definitely reduces puppy biting, however you must ensure that when you cross your arms and turn away you also withdraw eye contact. Puppy will still feel that they are getting attention through eye contact.
To adopt this method you need to completely remove all your attention which means no eye contact at all. In this instance having another member of the family to guide you can help ensure you don’t return to the situation too quickly (when you can’t look at your puppy it’s quite tricky to tell when they’re calm).
Be aware that this option is very difficult for young children who tend to react loudly because they're scared of the puppy biting.
2. Yelp at your Puppy
When you play with your puppy, let them mouth on your hands. Continue play until they bite particularly hard. When this happens, immediately give a high-pitched yelp, as if you’re in agony, and let your hand go limp.
This method should startle your puppy and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. If yelping seems to have no effect, you can use a phrase or word in a stern voice instead.
Praise your puppy for stopping or for licking you. Resume whatever you were doing before. If your puppy bites you hard again, yelp again. This method of bite-inhibition aims at slowly reducing the force of the bite.
The key to this method is to ensure everyone's using the same yelp or word. Consistency is key as is the tone of your voice. Deeper more masculine voices do tend to get better results.
3. Puppy Biting Substitution
Substitute a toy or chew bone when your puppy tries to gnaw on your fingers.
This is great in theory, but it means you need to be super prepared and carry a toy hidden on your person at all times. Nylabone toys are perfect for this as they easily fit in your pocket.
Nylabone Puppy Starter Kit
Made with a soft, durable nylon these Nylabone toys are made for puppies who have their very first set of teeth.
Start with the gentle flexible bones and progress to the tougher bone when your puppy starts to display some adult teeth.
They have extra flavour added to keep your puppy chewing for longer.
A finger preserving bargain. With positive reinforcement, pups will learn that chewing and licking these toys is not only encouraged, but also a fun pastime to enjoy into adulthood.
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4. Keep Puppy Busy
Whilst puppy is focussed on other things, your hands and ankles get some respite. The biting is often worse at certain times of the day, so save these activities for when you really need a break.
KONG Puppy Teething Stick
Renowned for creating innovative dog toys, this KONG Teething Stick is made from soft rubber to soothe puppy's gums and teeth.
To extend play and give puppy something to work on, it's designed with ridges running along its length.
These ridges are created for you to add dog-safe peanut butter or KONG's own Easy Treat paste.
It's also worth mentioning that the strategically designed and patented ridges of the teething stick, help to clean teeth and gums so improve your puppy's dental hygiene. Win-win !
We recommend Pets Purest Peanut Butter because it's made from 100% roasted peanuts with no palm oil or nasty additives.
It's dog friendly, tastes great and is a better value alternative to KONG Easy Treat paste.
LICKIMAT for Puppies
The original lickimat for dogs is designed to reduce anxiety and engage and entertain your puppy through licking.
The perfect boredom buster for your puppy, a lickimat should keep them enticed and keep their brain working.
Simply shake the sprinkles onto the lickimat and watch them concentrate on trying to eat them.
The sprinkles are crunchy dog biscuits crushed down to sand sized pieces ready for sprinkling so they're are an excellent accompaniment.
We reviewed the different types of lickimat available, how to use them effectively and what foods you can use as toppers. Take a Look - Best Lick Mats for Dogs Guide
With positive reinforcement, pups will learn that chewing and licking these is not only encouraged, but also a fun pastime to enjoy into adulthood.
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What to Avoid with Puppy Biting
Here are some examples of unsolicited advice I was given to deal with puppy biting by some self-professed experts (many of them without dogs !) -
Hit him on the nose
Bite him back
Hit him with a rolled up newspaper
A word to the wise, go with your dog-loving instinct on this one. Clearly never slap, bite or hit your puppy as they will probably think one of two things: You are playing and he’ll come back trying to bite you even harder or he will learn to fear you and your hands. Hitting your puppy will most likely lead to even bigger behaviour problems down the line.
Waving Your Hands
Avoid waving your fingers or toes in your puppy’s face or slapping the sides of his face to entice him to play. Doing these things can actually encourage your puppy to bite your hands and feet.
Avoid jerking your hands or feet away from your puppy when he mouths. This will encourage him to jump forward and grab at you. It’s much more effective to let your hands or feet go limp so that they aren’t much fun to play with.
Remember biting is a stage and like all stages, it will end. Take the photos when your pup is looking angelic, because trust me, in a year or two you'll forget how bad this was and probably start to think about getting another puppy!
Hopefully, you will find some points in this article to help you. Thanks for stopping by and reading our article on How to Stop Puppy Biting.