Although it is a totally natural process, many dog owners are a bit overwhelmed by their puppy’s behavior and often ask if heavy biting is already aggression.
The former is that puppy biting is normal, the second being that puppy biting is normal.
You probably have to sit this phase-out while you keep improving your bond with your dog and guide him to adulthood.
But sitting this out doesn’t mean you just have to sit there and watch him bite you or others.
There are some easy steps you can follow to make sure your dog learns the appropriate behavior.
Mouthing, chewing, and biting are natural ways for puppies to explore, taste and experience their environment.
This can escalate quickly when puppies eat stones or other foreign objects that could be harmful.
There are three main reasons why puppies bite stuff and it almost never has to do with aggression (more on that below):
The sharp little teeth puppies have help them learn a crucial lesson during the early socialization process.
Puppies that spend 8 weeks with their mother and littermates are taught the so-called bite inhibition.
In this process, they will learn to adjust their biting behavior and the force they apply with their jaws to appropriate levels.
Puppies have tough skin so they are used to playing a bit rough with their brothers and sisters.
When they play with each other and biting becomes too rough one will start to yelp.
In order to receive feedback, they need those sharp teeth because their jaws are not strong enough yet.
When you bring your new puppy home, you now have the responsibility to continue with the feedback the littermates and the mother gave.
Many trainers believe that you should just imitate the sound of a little puppy screaming from pain but I personally believe that you as a human can never fully imitate canine behavior.
Your puppy will probably just be confused, assuming you would be able to create a sound even close to a puppy yelping.
You will have to be patient and consistent with bite inhibition but it will pay off and your dog will be a well-adjusted canine citizen.
The goal here is to teach your puppy that nipping on human clothes and skin is not tolerated.
Fast movements reinforce your dog to chase your hand and that will probably make it worse. Instead, you should:
Time outs are a very effective way to stop puppy biting as young dogs love to interact and play with their owner.
If you suddenly stand up and leave the room after he bit you, he will definitely remember that.
The goal of redirecting is teaching your puppy that mouthing on toys is okay but not on skin.
When he starts play biting, engage with him in a game of tug to redirect his attention on the toy and not your hand.
When he starts biting your feet, stop right there in your movement and tell him a firm “no” or use the same yelping voice you used before.
We want to really teach him how he should interact with our hands while playing or petting.
For this method, you will grab a bunch of small treats and place them between your index finger and thumb.
When you start feeding them to your puppy you should pay attention to how he grabs them.
Leave them a bit longer between your fingers to see if he just tries to lick them out of your hand or if he uses his teeth.
If all of these tips don’t seem to work it is probably because your puppy is not exercised enough.
I am not only talking about going for walks but also a lack of mental stimulation that can encourage biting behavior.
Puppies are the best teachers when it comes to play-biting and yours will love the play and interaction.
I have visited puppy classes since my dog was 9 weeks old and we still go to play classes twice a week.
There is nothing better for a dog than playing with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment (not like the dog park).
Like babies, puppies lose their teeth and that’s why their gums can be irritated and itchy.
High energy dog breeds are more likely to chew, so getting that energy out in the morning and throughout the day is mandatory.
Puppy-proof your home, so he won’t chew on cords or an expensive rug or swallow harming things.
There are certain situations where you set yourself up for failure in regards to puppy biting:
If your puppy keeps nipping your kids, you should teach your pup bite inhibition in addition to teaching your child how to stay calm and redirect your puppy.
However, it’s important to teach both how to treat each other and to get your kid involved in the dog training in order to make sure that your dog listens to everybody.
Play and puppy biting is perfectly normal in most cases and doesn’t mean that your dog is showing any signs of aggression at all.
You just have to observe your dog’s body language as well as his vocalization to cross aggression out of your list.
When your pup is play-biting, he looks really clumsy with a relaxed body posture and no determination to harm you at all.
Early signs of aggression that mostly occurs in adulthood (hopefully never with the right training) can include your puppy biting significantly stronger than usual.
His body is tense and he shows you his teeth and growls at you but beware of the difference between play-growling vs. threatening growling.
If this happens during a normal play session and he doesn’t experience any pain or something else that might have startled him, you might have a problem.
Just to rule out any medical issues, you should visit a vet and get your dog checked out regardless.
Instead, do not show any emotions and do not back up from your puppy because that is showing him that you are afraid and fearful which is prey behavior.
If you can, you should firmly hold him still without hurting him until he has calmed down.
After that, you should consult a professional to specify the problem and to avoid any further aggression.
My Rottweiler chewed and mouthed for maybe a couple of weeks and then simply stopped after we calmly showed her what to bite and what not to bite.
Even during the most intense play session, she’s still so mindful and will never catch your arm or even finger by accident.
What to Do About Puppy Mouthing
It’s important to help your puppy learn to curb his mouthy behavior. There are various ways, some better than others, to teach this lesson. The ultimate goal is to train your puppy to stop mouthing and biting people altogether. However, the first and most important objective is to teach him that people have very sensitive skin, so he must be very gentle when using his mouth.
Bite Inhibition: Teach Your Puppy to Be Gentle Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition with people doesn’t recognize the sensitivity of human skin, and so he bites too hard, even in play. Some behaviorists and trainers believe that a dog who has learned to use his mouth gently when interacting with people will be less likely to bite hard and break skin if he ever bites someone in a situation apart from play—like when he’s afraid or in pain.
Puppies usually learn bite inhibition during play with other puppies. If you watch a group of puppies playing, you’ll see plenty of chasing, pouncing and wrestling. Puppies also bite each other all over. Every now and then, a pup will bite his playmate too hard. The victim of the painful bite yelps and usually stops playing. The offender is often taken aback by the yelp and also stops playing for a moment. However, pretty soon, both playmates are back in the game. Through this kind of interaction, puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites so that no one gets hurt and the play can continue without interruption. If puppies can learn how to be gentle from each other, they can also learn the same lesson from people.
When you play with your puppy, let him mouth on your hands. Continue play until he bites especially hard. When he does, immediately give a high-pitched yelp, as if you’re hurt, and let your hand go limp. This should startle your puppy and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. (If yelping seems to have no effect, you can say “Too bad!” or “You blew it!” 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. Repeat these steps no more than three times within a 15-minute period. If you find that yelping alone doesn’t work, you can switch to a time-out procedure. Time-outs are often very effective for curbing mouthing in puppies. When your puppy delivers a hard bite, yelp loudly. Then, when he startles and turns to look at you or looks around, remove your hand. Either ignore him for 10 to 20 seconds or, if he starts mouthing on you again, get up and move away for 10 to 20 seconds. After the short time-out, return to your puppy and encourage him to play with you again. It’s important to teach him that gentle play continues, but painful play stops. Play with your puppy until he bites hard again. When he does, repeat the sequence above. When your puppy isn’t delivering really hard bites anymore, you can tighten up your rules a little. Require your puppy to be even gentler. Yelp and stop play in response to moderately hard bites. Persist with this process of yelping and then ignoring your puppy or giving him a time-out for his hardest bites. As those disappear, do the same for his next-hardest bites, and so on, until your puppy can play with your hands very gently, controlling the force of his mouthing so that you feel little or no pressure at all.
What to Do Next: Teach Your Puppy That Teeth Don’t Belong on Human Skin
- The instant you feel your puppy’s teeth touch you, give a high-pitched yelp. Then immediately walk away from him. Ignore him for 30 to 60 seconds. If your puppy follows you or continues to bite and nip at you, leave the room for 30 to 60 seconds. (Be sure that the room is “puppy-proofed” before you leave your puppy alone in it. Don’t leave him in an area with things he might destroy or things that might hurt him.) After the brief time-out, return to the room and calmly resume whatever you were doing with your puppy.
- Alternatively, you can keep a leash attached to your puppy during time-out training and let it drag on the floor when you’re there to supervise him. Then, instead of leaving the room when your puppy mouths you, you can take hold of his leash and lead him to a quiet area, tether him, and turn your back to him for the brief time-out. Then untie him and resume whatever you were doing.
Because mouthing issues can be challenging to work with, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). A CPDT will offer group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of assistance with mouthing.Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.
Most puppy mouthing is normal behavior. However, some puppies bite out of fear or frustration, and this type of biting can signal problems with future aggression.
Puppy “Temper Tantrums” Puppies sometimes have temper tantrums. Usually tantrums happen when you’re making a puppy do something he doesn’t like. Something as benign as simply holding your puppy still or handling his body might upset him. Tantrums can also happen when play escalates. (Even human “puppies” can have tantrums during play when they get overexcited or upset)! A puppy temper tantrum is more serious than playful mouthing, but it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between the two. In most cases, a playful puppy will have a relaxed body and face. His muzzle might look wrinkled, but you won’t see a lot of tension in his facial muscles. If your puppy has a temper tantrum, his body might look very stiff or frozen. He might pull his lips back to expose his teeth or growl. Almost always, his bites will be much more painful than normal mouthing during play.
If you’re holding or handling your puppy and he starts to throw a temper tantrum, avoid yelping like you’re hurt. Doing that might actually cause your puppy to continue or intensify his aggressive behavior. Instead, be very calm and unemotional. Don’t hurt your puppy, but continue to hold him firmly without constriction, if possible, until he stops struggling. After he’s quieted down for just a second or two, let him go. Then make plans to contact a qualified professional for help. Repeated bouts of biting in frustration are not something that the puppy will simply grow out of, so your puppy’s behavior should be assessed and resolved as soon as possible.
When and Where to Get Help A trained professional can help you determine whether or not your puppy’s mouthing is normal, and she or he can guide you through an effective treatment plan. If you suspect that your puppy’s biting fits the description of aggressive or fearful behavior, please seek consultation with a qualified professional, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist in your area, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT)—but be sure to determine whether she or he has professional training and experience in successfully treating fear and aggression problems, as this expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these professionals in your area.
Does your puppy’s razor-sharp teeth have you wondering how to stop puppy biting fast?
From a very early age dogs explore the world with their mouths. Like babies, dogs put just about everything and anything in their mouth including your hands, your pant legs and even your feet.
This is cute when your dog has sweet puppy breath and he’s no bigger than a large, fluffy potato. But as the puppy grows and those teeth sharpen, this behavior becomes frustrating, aggravating, and painful!
AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to akc.org. If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.
Puppies’ mouths are filled with about 28 teeny-tiny razors that seem to be attracted to your fingers or toes. Dog trainers call it “play biting,” but it’s irksome and often painful when your cuddly pup seems to be all teeth. However, this is completely normal for puppy teething and necessary for development, and something you can train away with a few simple steps.
Learning how to moderate the force of a bite is very important for all dogs. There may come a time when they’re in pain or fearful, and they put their mouth on you or someone else. But if they’ve learned bite inhibition, they understand that they shouldn’t bite down hard. Puppies naturally nip at each other while playing. If they bite too hard on their mother or littermate, the other dog will likely make a loud yelp sound, warning the puppy, “Hey, that hurt!”
Depending on the dog, you can teach this, as well, by making a high-pitched “ow!” sound if they bite you. Beware though, because, for some puppies, this actually gets them even more worked up and likely to bite. In this case, it is better to turn quietly around, walk away, or gently put the pup into their crate for a few minutes to calm down. If they do back off, be sure to reward your dog with a treat and some verbal praise.
Some dog owners use a bitter spray to deter puppies from chewing and biting on objects.
How do you get your puppy to stop biting and fast?
At what age my puppy will stop biting?
How do you discipline a puppy who is biting?
If they start nibbling at your fingers or toes while you’re playing, offer a toy instead. Again, if they continue to nip, stop the play session immediately. If you’ve been training your puppy to sit, you might also redirect them by asking them to sit and rewarding with a toy.
How do I get my 10 week old puppy to stop biting?
- Make your puppy think he is hurting you when he bites by letting out a puppy yelp! …
- Redirect your puppy’s biting by slowly removing your hand from his mouth and replace with one of his dog toys. …
- Give your puppy a command. …
- Exercise your pup’s mind and body. …
- Try using Bitter Apple Spray.