Like babies, puppies explore by putting everything into their mouths. But despite their curiosity, your dog should not have a puppy biting or nipping problem once he reaches the age of 15 weeks or older. At that point, puppy teeth should never touch human skin.
Many people who own dogs that are older than 15 weeks still struggle with puppy biting. Many of them go so far as placing a muzzle on their dog’s mouth to combat biting. That is extreme and rarely necessary.
Instead, recognize biting and mouthing are natural behavior and you need to teach your puppy what can and cannot go into its mouth.
How to get your puppy to stop biting
Puppies that were separated from their mothers and littermates too early may not have learned bite inhibition. That means you must teach bite inhibition and offer bite training as a good puppy parent.
Start by making a yelping sound if your puppy tries to bite you. You can also try to distract your puppy with a chew toy. Another option, walk away from your puppy. This may not work if you are trying to get a puppy to stop biting your feet. In that case, you may want to consider using a longer rope toy to distract your puppy.
Whenever your puppy tries to bite, give a firm no command. Do not yell at your puppy or bite your puppy. You also can consider using a short puppy time out to teach your dog this biting behavior is unacceptable.
Wondering how long puppies bite? By the time your dog reaches 15 weeks, you should have already given him proper training techniques and basic commands to get your dog to stop his annoying mouthing behavior. Training your puppy can be as simple as taking him to a puppy class to help him learn the necessary obedience commands.
The good news: the puppy biting stage is short. Most dogs stop biting after they finish teething, which is typically at six months.
If your dog is older or if you have adopted a dog that’s older than 15 weeks and is new to your home, then you may wonder how to train your puppy not to bite.
Use the following tips to help you get your dog to stop biting your hands and biting at your fingers, biting your hands, biting your feet, or toes or ankles, or any other body parts.
1. Stop rough play
The first item on your checklist must be to discontinue playing all dog games that include roughhousing immediately. While part of the fun of having a new dog is playing games like tug-of-war and wrestling, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for many dogs. To get a puppy to stop play biting, stop the game immediately and distract your puppy with a toy or treat. Once your puppy calms down, you can continue to play.
Puppies play with great energy, and your goal for a play session should be to tire your puppy out, not create bad habits. You need to help your puppy learn appropriate play, so if you’re faced with an animal still not over its biting period, you have to stop these types of activities.
By playing these games, you are giving him the notion that if he playfully bites you, he is allowed to roughhouse with you whenever he wants. You have to be very careful because you don’t want your dog to be hostile towards strangers and young children.
Your dog should never try to bite you in anger or behave aggressively.
2. Use discipline
While it’s OK to allow some light puppy biting, only puppy nipping from very young dogs is OK. Once your dog is older than 15 weeks, all forms of biting should be completely discouraged. Always stop play if you experience puppy teeth on your skin.
When your puppy is teething and tries to use your fingers as a chew toy, it’s one thing. If that happens, give the nipping puppy a “No bite” command and then hand the dog a chew toy. This should teach your dog that it’s OK to chew on certain items.
But if that bad behavior continues, you have to get your puppy to stop biting. Whether it’s just a little nibble on your fingertips or a hand that seems to be harmless, give your dog a firm command to stop biting and immediately pull your arm away.
Never hit or bite a puppy that bites you. That will only make your dog afraid. If your dog continues to try to bite your hand, stop what you are doing and walk away. If you are playing, stop playing immediately.
Losing your attention should be enough to get your puppy to behave. If, however, your puppy continues misbehaving, you may have to resort to other methods.
3. Use firm commands
Use firm commands when required to make your puppy stop biting. This goes for puppies of all ages. There is nothing wrong with quickly giving a loud and firm “No bite!” command if you feel a tooth at your hand. You also can yelp or say “ow” in a loud, high-pitched tone.
There are two things to keep in mind here: Do not scream and scare your dog, and second, don’t stare at your dog’s eyes for an extended period when you are disciplining him. This can cause confrontation.
If you feel like your dog isn’t paying attention, turn your back or leave the room.
Using these simple tips to train your puppy to stop biting, you’ll be able to eliminate puppy biting or snapping quickly.
If you have trouble getting your puppy to follow basic obedience commands, work with a dog trainer or use online training programs.
4. Buy chew toys
Using chew toys offers a positive option for how to train a puppy not to bite.
To help ease teething pain, keep plenty of tough chew toys, a natural product like Pet Parents Gnawtlers®, or ice cubes on hand to soothe sore little mouths. Other toys to consider:
Nylabone Teething Pacifier Puppy Chew Toy: This puppy pacifier uses raised nubs that stimulate gums and teeth to soothe teething pain. This toy is designed for puppies up to 25 pounds. It’s not recommended for adult dogs or puppies with permanent teeth.
KONG Puppy Goodie Bone Dog Toy: Fill with puppy snacks for an interactive game that will keep your puppy entertained while stimulating his brain. The soft rubber material will help soothe your puppy’s gums.
Petstages Crunch A Chew Tough Dog Chew Toy: Crunchcore toys appeal to dogs that love crunching on water bottles but get frustrated when the bottle collapses after chewing. The familiar and irresistible crunch sound will keep your puppy engaged. These durable toys are made for tough chewers.
Nylabone Teething Rings Puppy Chew Toy: This tough toy helps pet parents build bonds with their puppies by playing a gentle tug-of-war game. It’s also a safe chew toy that soothes teething pain and helps keep puppy breath smelling fresh.
KONG Puppy Binkie: This pacifier-inspired toy made of a natural rubber helps promote proper chewing behavior and soothe sore gums. Stuff this toy with treats, yogurt, peanut butter, or kibble. It’s an ideal teething toy for puppies up to nine months old.
5. Try a “shock method” to train a puppy to stop biting
Lastly, if necessary, use a “shock method” to get your dog to stop biting. Don’t do anything harmful to your dog.
A soda can filled with pennies, or a spritz bottle of water fits the bill. Use anything that lets you quickly spray at his little body or head when he bites or nibbles should be enough to stop him from wanting to bite again. Shaking the can makes a noise your puppy doesn’t like and will help make him stop biting.
Do not overuse either method. Using these methods typically quickly eliminates biting behavior. If it doesn’t, however, repeatedly spraying your puppy or shaking the can will not break this bad habit.
Instead, redouble your training efforts. Eventually, your dog will learn not to bite you or chew inappropriately.
Training a puppy not to bite
Often your puppy’s mouthing or biting is a sign of teething. It’s not an indication there is a puppy behavior problem. And the good news is teething only lasts a few months.
Kelly Marshall is a featured author on Oh My Dog Supplies. For more articles by Kelly, visit Oh My Dog Supplies.