How to stop a puppy biting and mouthing is one of the most common questions I get from frustrated puppy owners.
It’s important to remember that puppies explore their environment with their mouths and use their mouths in play and when teething, so we need to find a way to allow them to fulfill this instinctual need, but direct in the right way.
There is a more in-depth article that addresses how to address destructive chewing in puppies and older dogs chew here, but for now here’s some tips to help stop a puppy biting and mouthing.
Play with other puppies
One way that puppies learn to inhibit their biting is by playing with other puppies.
When one puppy bites the other puppy too hard, the puppy yelps and the play stops. This is no longer fun for either puppy so they learn instinctively that if they want the play to continue, they must control their bite.
A good way to stop a puppy biting and mouthing too much then is to join a puppy school or catch up with puppy owning friends, so they can spend more time with their own kind.
Give them something suitable to chew
Puppies also like to chew shoes, socks, kids’ toys etc, as they smell of us, so give them something satisfying to chew on that isn’t your hand.
You can also re-direct it when your puppy goes to bite you by offering a toy or a chew treat to redirect it.
You do need to be very careful with timing so that the toy or treat connects with their mouth before they have connected with your hand or body, otherwise it could be seen as a reward.
Do not encourage it!
Never allow your puppy to bite, chew or mouth you or your kids, even if it seems to be in play, as this reinforces the behaviour.
Teach kids not to roll around or allow the puppy to jump all over them and bite their hair.
Ignore it – no fun
One way of letting them know that they are hurting you is in the same way they might learn when playing with another puppy. You could yelp (like a puppy), but you do need to be careful they don’t think it is fun.
The best thing is to remove your hands from their reach, walk away or fold your arms and ignore it. They soon learn that when they display that behaviour, they don’t get anything from you and you walk away from them, so we do not want to give in to their attention seeking behaviour.
Once they calm down you can have them near you again, so they soon learn biting = no human, calm behaviour = human cuddles, touch, company.
Do not punish
Your puppy is still learning about the world through chewing and biting so it’s important to instead just ignore them and remove access.
Remember, dogs don’t grow out of problem behaviour, they grow into it, so we need to make sure we set a puppy up for life by teaching it the behaviour we will expect of it as an adult.
For more puppy tips on the Pooches at Play website click here.
And to find out more about the Vitapet treat range for puppies visit vitapet.com.au
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.