Tips to stop Puppy Biting

Your puppy must learn not to bite you.  You are not a plaything or toy for it to chew.  Although putting a toy into her mouth instead of your hand may work for some puppies, the more challenging ones will just prefer to ease their teething mouth on you. 

Your puppy is not being vicious or horrible, even if they play growling.  Don’t worry that your dog may grow up to be a threat to everyone, this is the perfect opportunity for it to learn what it can bite (toys) and what it cannot (humans).

During this puppy biting stage don’t play rough and tumble games with your young pup, and don’t play tug of war games as this will only over excite her and she'll be harder to calm down.  Avoid pulling toys hard as you could harm her growing jaws.  Don’t let any children be rough with her either, you need to play calm games such as throwing a toy and having her fetch it.  If children start wrestling with her then she'll get wound up and is more likely to nip. 

Don’t smack your puppy - smacking round the face will make them shy of your - and any body else’s - hand approaching her face.  Not good when you want to pet or praise her, and definitely not good if the vet needs to check her teeth.  Smacking on the bottom has little effect other than to make her frightened.

Be consistent with the words you use.  ‘Off’ if she’s jumping up to bite, and ‘No’ when she goes to bite your hand. 

And don’t give up.  Your puppy WILL stop biting.  They really do, even though it's hard to believe when your little snapping alligator is hanging off your arm.  It's just a phase lasting only a few weeks, but at the time it feels like forever.  It’s a great feeling when you can at last reach down to pet your puppy and not have her sinking her teeth into your hand.

Reward Good Behaviour


Saying Ouch

A common recommendation is that if the puppy uses her teeth too hard say ‘ouch’ or yelp loudly.  The sound should be loud enough for them to stop and think.  This is simply saying ‘that bite was too hard and you hurt me’. 

This will work with some dogs, but with others a high pitched yelp will only excite them more.

Growling No

If a high pitched yelp seems to excite your puppy, trying saying 'no' is a deeper voice, more of a growl. 

Stop Playing and Turn Your Back

If the puppy persists - stop playing and turn your back.  If the puppy thinks this is part of the game, go away from it.  The puppy will learn that biting too hard stops the fun.  Persistence is the key, although pups do have mad half hours when they race around and it seems their brain doesn’t engage with their head. 

Time Out!

If you are trying to have some family time watching the television, your puppy might want to wake things up a bit by biting feet or jumping up to bite hands, arms, anything within reach.  Removing the pup from the room for a minute or two should make her realise that she’ll be removed from your company if she doesn’t behave. 

Time out works best when she's only alone for a minute or even less.  10 minutes is too long, and she'll forget why she was sent out of the room.  Persistence is the key.  Don't put her out and forget about her else time outs will lose their effect.

Biting Feet or Shoes?

Bitter Apple spray is great for feet and shoes - it tastes bitter and foul and may deter your puppy from biting.

Puppy biting biting biting

Have you brought a Crocodile or a Puppy?
A word about biting and nipping

Nothing is worse than bringing home a cuddly puppy and within the next few days finding it’s more like giving house room to a crocodile.  Everyone wants to give the new addition a cuddle - but all she seems to want to do is bite.  To start with this can be endearing, but as the bite gets harder it becomes anything but. 

Puppies have very sharp teeth and have to learn the appropriate things they can chew and bite, and the inappropriate things - that is, your hands and feet, and those of your family.  Puppies initially learn by playing with each other, but an eight week old puppy will need to continue her learning by playing with you. 

The good news is that it is  right and good that the puppy chews, but she needs to learn that using its teeth hurts.  Never physically punish a puppy for nipping - she's not being vicious, she's doing what comes naturally to her.  Children, in particular, might need this explained to them.  If you have young children and a very nippy puppy you might need to keep them separate.  Children must not smack a young puppy. 

Swapping with something appropriate to Chew

Make sure your pup has toys around that you can swap with your fingers when she begins to chew.  Try using toys and chews of all shapes, sizes and textures to try to interest her and to get her to bite on instead of you.
Teach your puppy to 'sit' or lie 'down' as soon as you can.  When she is having a hyper moment then ask her to sit, and reward her for doing so.  This may well break the cycle and calm her down a little.

What should a teething dog chew?

Kongs are good toys - tough rubber to be chewed, but they can be filled with treats or paste that should keep her amused for a while, giving mental stimulation as well as helping her teeth come through.  Ice cubes are good to soothe sore gums, as are frozen carrots or indeed putting any toy or possibly a damp flannel in the freezer before giving it to her.    Puppy gum soother toys are available in a variety of textures made especially to help the teething process.  NEVER give puppies human treatments such as Calpol or Bongela as human medicines can be harmful for dogs - a puppy teething gel is available if necessary.

15 week old puppy loses 2 of her upper front puppy teeth
Rawhide chews are good for growing teeth, although there is some controversy about smaller bits being swallowed.  Make sure you supervise your puppy when she's eating a rawhide chew and make sure you remove it when it gets too small.  Likewise some people swear by bones (they must be raw, and not the weight bearing bones - ribs are ideal), whereas other people won't use them. 

Whatever you give your dog might carry some risk, so just make sure there is adequate supervision if you have any concerns.

Nylabone chews are especially made for teething puppies.  Some dogs like them, some won't touch them. 

Be aware that the soft toys you give your puppy are not chews.  Puppies should not be allowed to tear these to bits as they could swallow any squeaker or the soft stuffing inside. 

Although you may have stopped your puppy biting you, she will still need to chew.  At three months she will start losing her baby teeth, and her adult teeth will start growing through.  Until they are fully grown at around six months she will have the overwhelming desire to chew anything and everything to ease the pain in her gums.

Make sure she has chews and toys aplenty so she doesn’t damage your furniture, shoes or clothing.  If she is to be left unsupervised make sure everything you don’t want her to chew is removed or put out of reach.  If not possible, place her in her crate along with suitable chewing material.

Try spraying things you don’t want her to chew with bitter apple spray or any other foul tasting (but non poisonous) paste however you cannot depend on this to work.  Always remember that if something gets destroyed it was YOUR fault for leaving it lying around.  Your puppy has no concept of hers and yours and this stage.  Check any room you're going to leave her in for anything she could damage.

Some dogs tear up lino and take wallpaper off the walls.  If you see signs that your pup might be starting on the house, I'd really recommend a crate when you are not there to supervise. 

NEVER give her an old shoe or slipper to play with - she’ll then think that any of yours are fair game.   After all, one shoe is just like another to a dog, and you cannot expect her to tell the difference. 

The good news is that the adult teeth are not needle sharp like puppy teeth! 
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