Tips to keep puppies from biting

Puppies often engage in “mouthing,” or play biting, a natural behavior that can become problematic as they grow, especially if they’re aggressive or never learn when to stop. This behavior can also be an issue if you want to socialize your pup with other animals or people. 

If your puppy has the tendency to bite or nip when it shouldn’t, there are several ways to train it to stop.

Ways to stop a puppy from biting

Determine why it’s biting 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, puppies bite for several reasons. One common reason is that the puppy doesn’t like something or is bored. Some puppies bite harder when they’re frustrated, anxious or afraid. Others will start biting if you hold them still too long or when they become overstimulated.

Although mouthing or nipping during playtime is natural and friendly, it can easily escalate into something more aggressive with age. Once you understand why the puppy bites, you can start testing different methods to stop the behavior.

Teach bite inhibition

Bite inhibition is a technique you can use to train your puppy to moderate how hard they bite. By teaching this skill, you can keep it from accidentally biting with too much force or breaking skin.

When dogs play together, they often nip or bite at each other. However, if one bites too hard, the other will yelp in response. You can do the same thing by making a high-pitched sound whenever your puppy bites too hard. In most cases, it will back off or let go.

Go limp

If your puppy has the habit of grabbing something it shouldn’t, such as your hand or ankle, let the limb go limp. This should encourage your pet to let go. Do not try to pull away while the puppy is still biting or it might bite harder.

Teach it playtime is over

If your puppy gets easily riled up during playtime, stop playing as soon as it starts biting or becoming overstimulated. Leave the room and let it calm down for 10 minutes. If the puppy is crate trained, you can instead put it in its crate until it’s calmer. Puppies are energetic and love attention, so doing this consistently can help them build an association between biting and no more playtime.

Provide an alternative chew toy

It’s OK for puppies to chew on their toys, but they shouldn’t use their teeth on skin, furniture or other household items. If your puppy is biting things it shouldn’t, introduce more chew toys and swap out whatever it’s chewing on with the toy. For example, if you’re playing and the puppy latches onto your hand, wait until it lets go and then give it something else to put in its mouth. Doing this will teach it what’s okay to bite and what’s not.

Redirect its energy

Another way to stop a puppy from biting is with new games that don’t require skin-to-teeth contact. Tug-of-war and fetch are great options since they satisfy the puppy’s urge to chew on things and help deplete its energy in a healthier way. However, if your puppy becomes aggressive and won’t drop the toy, teach it a command such as “leave it” so it’ll learn to let go.

Reinforce good behaviors

Many dog owners punish their pets for bad behavior by swatting them or aggressively shouting at them. However, this often ends up teaching the animal fear or anxiety. Positive reinforcement is a better option since it will make your puppy more likely to repeat whatever behavior results in a reward. Whenever your puppy does something good, such as stop nipping at your heels or biting during playtime, reward it with verbal praise or a treat.

Introduce items that deter biting

There are several products that deter dogs from biting, chewing or excessive licking. These items come in various forms, including sprays that can be used on furniture or walls. Typically, these sprays have a foul scent or flavor that will keep the puppy from putting it in their mouth. There are also products that encourage relaxation, which can help particularly anxious behaviors such as biting or inappropriate elimination in the house.

Discourage herding

Certain breeds of dog, including border collies and sheepdogs, have the tendency to nip at their owners’ heels. This herding instinct can become problematic if they do it frequently or bite too hard. To discourage this behavior, stop moving whenever they do it so they’ll realize what they’re doing isn’t working as intended.

Sign up for puppy training

Socialization and training are key for dogs at any age, but the sooner you get started, the better. If your puppy won’t stop biting, no matter what you do, consider enrolling it in a puppy training class or preschool. A class will give you the fundamentals of teaching your pet better behaviors that you can continue to use at home. Meanwhile, socializing the puppy with other canines will help teach it the best ways to interact and play.

What you need to buy to stop a puppy from biting

Frisco Fold & Carry Single Door Collapsible Dog Crate

Frisco Fold & Carry Single Door Collapsible Dog Crate

This portable crate comes with a soft mat and a reliable base pan for mistakes. It has a front door opening that makes it easy to put your puppy inside and let it out. It’s a great option for crate training and timeout.

Sold by Chewy

Patpet U01 Ultrasonic Pet Behavior Training Remote

Patpet U01 Ultrasonic Pet Behavior Training Remote

Using an ultrasonic sound that dogs, cats and other pets can hear, this device can help deter barking, biting and other unwanted behaviors. It has a range of 30 feet and works indoors and outdoors.

Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Kipritii Dog Chew Toys

Kipritii Dog Chew Toys

This 18-pack comes with an assortment of puppy chew toys, including squeaky and non-squeaky toys, rope toys and more, making it great for puppies and small breeds of adult dogs. It’s a great option for deterring biting and inappropriate chewing, especially for bored or highly energetic dogs.

Sold by Amazon

Chew King Fetch Balls

Chew King Fetch Balls

Available in packs of two, three and eight, these indestructible rubber balls are great for avid chewers and dogs who love to play fetch. They also feature safety air vents that make them safe for your puppy’s tongue.

Sold by Amazon

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites

This eight-ounce bag of soft puppy treats comes in lamb and salmon flavors and is good for dogs of all ages. It’s nutritious and healthy for growing puppies as well since it’s chock full of omega fatty acids. Overall, it’s a great choice for positive reinforcement and training.

Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Nylabone Teething Puppy Chew Freezer Bone Dog Toy

Nylabone Teething Puppy Chew Freezer Bone Dog Toy

This chew toy has a peanut butter flavor and is perfect for young puppies who are still teething and getting used to their own strength. It’s textured in a way that also soothes sore gums. It’s best for puppies 25 pounds and under.

Sold by PetSmart


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