How to Stop Puppy Biting and Chewing
Dog owners generally start searching for solutions to stop puppy biting right when puppies are beginning to discover the world around them by putting everything in their mouths.
It is important for dog owners to recognize that chewing and biting is a completely normal phase of puppyhood. In most cases, puppy biting is harmless and has nothing to do with aggression.
A young puppy nipping at your hands or feet may even look cute and harmless. But as your puppy grows older, a dog bite can cause not only a serious injury but a lawsuit as well.
So, no matter how cute it looks, always discourage dog biting and nipping. Never allow your puppy do something you don't want him to repeat. Not even once.
Understanding Puppy Biting and Chewing
Biting and chewing behaviors start very early in puppyhood; indeed, puppies start mouthing during their first social interactions with their mom and littermates. Once ready to be adopted, most puppies will continue to bite and chew in their new homes with their new owners.
Just as human babies, puppies go through a phase where they use their mouth to learn just about everything. From analyzing the crunchy texture of kibble to nipping on the soft ear flaps of a litter mate, a puppy's mouth plays a primary role in the puppy's first life experiences.
In addition, the biting and chewing behavior is further exacerbated by the teething process which generally lasts up until the puppy is 6 to 8 months old when a full set of teeth have developed. However, biting may well perpetuate past this age if the owner fails to curb mouthy behaviors.
When it comes to finding a way to stop puppies from biting shoes and other objects, it is important to recognize that chewing behaviors are instinctual and tend to remain past the teething stage; indeed, chewing helps dogs get relief from boredom, stress, fear and anxiety. So, the best way to protect your belongings is to... hide them.
How to Stop Puppy From Biting
The best way to stop puppy biting and chewing is by addressing the underlying cause of the behavior.
If your puppy or dog displays anxious behaviors before your departure and tends to chew on items left behind or develops barrier frustration upon being left home alone, consider the possibility of puppy separation anxiety.
While puppies may playfully nip, it is also true that some puppies may revert to aggression under certain circumstances, including when they are scared. Older puppies may occasionally have "temper tantrums" where they may intentionally bite when corrected for a behavior or when asked to do something they do not like.
Both of the above cases are good examples of puppy aggression and may require the intervention of a dog trainer or behaviorist if they persist.
Nipping behaviors in young puppies can be successfully curbed by teaching proper bite inhibition.
When in the litter with mother and siblings, puppies learn important life lesson including not to bite too hard. When a puppy bites a littermate too hard in play, the littermate will yelp loudly and withdraw from the game. In a similar fashion, dog owners may yelp a high-pitched "ouch!" followed by a brief time-out. With time and after several repetitions, the puppy will learn to better gauge its bite pressure, and with time, possibly stop puppy biting behaviors altogether.
If you want to discourage puppy biting, provide your pet with plenty of dog chew toys. A good chew toy will not only discourage your puppy from biting humans but will also keep him occupied for a long period of time.
Finally, you may try one of numerous products, such as this Bitter Apple Spray, that discourage biting any sprayed surface -- from home furnishings to bandages and skin.
Behaviors That Encourage Puppy Biting
There may be many things dog owners may unknowingly do which may interfere with the training process to stop puppy biting. For instance, some dog owners may encourage rough interactions with puppies by allowing them to play with hands and feet. This encourages mouthing and biting which may be difficult to eradicate.
Waving fingers in a puppy's face is simply a way to say "come play with them", further encouraging unwanted play biting. If a puppy grasps your hand, it is preferable to go limp instead of suddenly withdrawing it. This makes your hand quite boring to play with, whereas, withdrawing your hand may encourage your puppy to leap forward and further play bite. Not a great approach to stop puppy biting!
Another big mistake owners make when they try to stop a puppy biting is to physically punish the puppy which may encourage defensive behaviors. So while there are many techniques you can use to stop dog biting, there is one that will not prevent biting. Hitting a puppy or an adult dog is not only counterproductive but is also dangerous. Never hit any dog, especially the one showing signs of aggression.
Behaviors That Discourage Puppy Biting
Looking for more tips on how to stop puppy biting?
Every time your puppy attempts to bite human skin, try to offer an alternate behavior. For example, it helps to redirect a puppy's attention to a chew toy the moment the puppy starts gnawing on fingers and toes.
Non-contact games such as fetch or hide-and-seek are much preferable to wrestling and rough play. Puppies should be praised for licking; indeed, some dog trainers recommend slathering hands with a stick of frozen butter so the puppy will feel more compelled to lick than bite.
Another great way to stop puppy biting is to distract your puppy if he tends to bite upon being pet. Simply pet your puppy, and at the same time, with the other hand try to offer a toy; this will teach the puppy that great things happen upon being pet and will also offer an alternate acceptable behavior. Always be consistent and patient in your biting dog training and you will help set your dog up for success!
Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...
Puppy biting and chewing are two behaviors that ultimately come hand in hand with puppyhood.
Early intervention and proper guidance will play a crucial role in helping the puppy understand which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
It is important to teach these acceptable behaviors early for the simple fact that the longer a puppy is allowed to nip and chew, the more difficult it will be to stop puppy biting once the puppy matures into an adult dog.
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Want to learn more?
For more advice on how to stop puppy biting, I highly recommend you read and follow this dog training guide. You'll find lots of information on dealing with many behavioral problems, including biting and nipping.
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