“My puppy won’t stop biting me! I’ve tried everything!” sounds familiar?
Well, we heard you!
We’ve gathered some tips and tricks from dog training experts that have been PROVEN to work.
Reasons why puppies/dogs bite
Dogs are affectionate animals – some breeds require more attention than others.
If you’ve been busy scrolling through your Facebook feed, it’s time you cuddle and play with your pup!
At about 16 weeks of age, you might notice your puppy start teething.
During this period, biting on almost everything they see is a common sight. This is their way of learning to master their bite strength.
The biting should stop when they’re about 6 – 7 months old.
Socialising with other dogs
In order to develop well, opportunities should be provided for your pup to socialise with other dogs.
If you see him nipping on other dogs, it’s because they’re communicating through body language. This helps your pet pick up social cues to better be able to interact with others.
In the event of a threatening situation, a dog may bite to defend himself or his loved ones.
Herding breeds such as Border Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs have been conditioned to nipping on their friends due to their herding behaviour.
If they spot anyone running around, they’re most likely the next victim.
How to stop my puppy from biting?
Biting may be a normal reaction to certain situations or due to circumstances. However, it’s not ideal to allow your pup to develop it into a habit.
Here are some ways to stop the biting as advised by dog whisperer, Cesar Millan.
Tip 1: Discourage the biting
When your puppy bites you,
- make a yelping sound or shout “ouch!” then
- ignore him for about 10 seconds.
If the biting occurs more than 3 times within a span of 15 minutes, give him a time out.
Why this works:
A loud yelp will startle them, making them release.
The objective is to teach your puppy that rough play is not acceptable. As the strength of your dog’s bites reduce, repeat this process till they’re able to mouth without biting down.
Tip 2: Divert their biting
Before your puppy gets to bite you,
- pull your hand away and
- give him a chew toy to divert his attention.
Other appropriate ways to let them mouth things is to initiate games such as fetch or tug of war.
Why this works:
By providing your puppy opportunities to bite/mouth, his attention is redirected. Soon, he’ll be aware of the appropriate situations to bite and mouth.
Tip 3: Offer alternatives
- Puppy-proof your home for biting
e.g. keep cords and chargers out of sight and spray your furniture with anti-chew spray.
- Have an assortment of chew toys
- Socialising / playtime with other dogs
Schedule play dates with other dogs so that your puppy can learn how to interact better.
Why this works:
Offering alternatives to your puppy will train him to know when are the appropriate times to bite and mouth.
Canine Master Chris Onthank says, “when a puppy is around another puppy, they get invaluable feedback on bite inhibition, the puppy actually learns the power of its own mouth.
If they’re too hard with their mouth on another puppy, the other puppy will yelp! This teaches your pup that their mouth needs to be controlled to continue the play interaction.
If they’re even more insistent with their mouth making unwanted advances towards another puppy, you may even hear a growling noise, or a snap. This is the puppy telling the other – not ok with me, back your mouth off!
Puppies at this age are so mouldable and hungry to learn the rules of their environment. There’s no better way than puppy play!”
Tip 4: Prevent them from biting
Use a product that’s designed to prevent a dog from licking or chewing by putting an unpleasant taste in their mouth.
There are 2 parts to this strategy
- Associate the smell of the product to its unpleasant taste
Place a small amount of the product onto some tissue and put it into your dog’s mouth. When he spits it out, let him smell it so the association is made.
- Remove any access to water during training
When training, apply the product on any object that he shouldn’t be licking or biting. This should be done once daily for a month.
During training, ensure that water is not made available to your dog for a maximum of an hour. If he’s able to get rid of the taste immediately after he bites in an inappropriate situation, this method would be rendered ineffective.
Why this works:
Once your puppy associates the unpleasant taste and smell to the object, he’ll automatically refrain from biting it.
What NOT to do when teaching your dog not to bite
Here are some tips from Canine Master Chris Onthank on what not to do:
Don’t hold a dog’s snout closed
Holding their mouth shut will cause an opposition reflex. The minute you let go, the dog will rebite.
Don’t pull away your hand or your pants leg when they’re biting
This only gives them a tug of war and makes it a game.
The dog should remove its mouth from you – not the other way round. Try to be still!
Never take a puppy and roll it on its back and then hold it down
The dog will quickly become aggressive and never trust you. This is referred to as Alpha Rolling and it’s just wrong and should never be done.
When you tease your puppy and do rough play, it gets them to mouth and teaches them that this is how we want to interact. If we don’t want a mouthy pup, we shouldn’t play with them this way.
Don’t hit or swat your dog with a newspaper
Aggressive puppy biting: how to know when biting becomes aggression?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are some tell-tale signs to differentiate playfulness and aggression.
Body language and facial expression
You’ll be able to notice a lot more tension in the facial muscles of aggressive dogs. They might also growl and pull their lips back to show their teeth when angry.
On the contrary, a playful puppy will look relaxed.
Pain level of the bite
When aggressive, a dog’s bites tend to be more painful than usual.
Getting professional help from dog trainers
Feeling lost? It’s best to consult a trained professional to determine if your pet’s mouthing habits are normal.
A dog training expert would be able to better advise you with regards to your pup’s behaviour and to design an effective training plan. It’s important to understand the cause in order to rectify the problem.
All it takes is patience and the right training. Over a few weeks, your pup will learn when to mouth, bite and let go.