Puppies use their mouths and needle-sharp teeth to play, chew, and investigate new things. When puppies play, they frequently bite, chew, and mouth on humans’ hands, limbs, and clothing. Mouthing is cute when your puppy is seven weeks old, but not so much when he is three or four months old!
How to Handle Puppy Mouthing & Nipping
You must control your puppy’s mouthy behavior. The ultimate goal is for your puppy to learn not to bite or mouth people. However, the first and most important goal is to teach him that people’s skin is sensitive and that he must be very gentle.
Teach your Puppy to be Gentle with Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is your dog’s ability to control how hard he bites. Even when playing, a puppy or dog who hasn’t learned to recognize human skin bites too hard. Some behaviorists and trainers believe that if a dog learns to interact with people by using his mouth, he will be less likely to bite hard and break skin if he bites someone when he is not playing.
Puppies Typically Learn Bite Inhibition via Play with other Puppies
While watching puppies play, you’ll notice a lot of chasing, pouncing, and wrestling. Puppies bite each other everywhere, and a puppy may occasionally bite his playmate too hard. When a victim is bitten, they usually yelp and stop playing. The yelp frequently catches the offender off guard and causes him to stop playing temporarily. However, both puppies are quickly back in the game. Puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites through this interaction so that no one is hurt and the play can continue uninterrupted.
While it is normal for puppies to bite on peoples’ hands, it is not a habit that should be carried over into adulthood. Learn how to train your puppy to stop biting.
If puppies can learn to be gentle with one another, they can also learn to be gentle with people. Allow your puppy to mouth you on your hands, give a high-pitched yelp, and let your hand go limp as if in pain. If yelping appears ineffective, say, “Too bad!” or “You blew it!” instead.
Praising Your Puppy for Slowing Down or Licking You is Appropriate
If your puppy bites you, repeat the procedure and yelp loudly. Repeat these steps at least three times in 15 minutes. You can try a time-out procedure if you discover that yelping alone is ineffective. Time-outs help reduce puppy-mouthing. When your puppy gives you a hard bite, yell. If he continues to mouth at you, ignore him for 10 to 20 seconds before getting up and walking away.
Return to Your Puppy After the Brief Time-out and Encourage Him to Play with You Again
He must realize that gentle play continues while painful play ends. Play with your puppy until he starts biting again. When he does, repeat the preceding steps. You can relax your rules once your puppy’s bites are no longer as hard. Increase your puppy’s gentleness in response to moderately hard bites, yelps, and pauses in play. Keep yelping, ignoring, or putting him in time-out for his hardest bites. Repeat 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.
Next, teach your puppy not to use his teeth on human skin:
- Toys or chew bones can replace your puppy’s gnawing on your fingers or toes.
- When someone strokes, pats, or scratches your puppy, they frequently mouth on their hands (unless they are sleepy or distracted). If your puppy gets agitated when you pet him, distract him by feeding him small treats with your other hand, which will help your puppy get used to being touched without mouthing.
- Avoid wrestling and rough play with your hands in favor of non contact games like fetch and tug-of-war. Once your puppy can safely play tug, keep tug toys in your pocket or easily accessible. If he starts mouthing you, redirect him to the tug toy immediately. He should start anticipating and looking for a toy when he feels like mouthing.
- Keep his favorite tug toy in your pocket if your puppy bites your feet and ankles. Stop moving your feet as soon as he ambushes you. Take out the tug toy and have some fun with it. Begin moving again when your puppy grabs the toy. If you don’t have the toy, wait for your puppy to stop biting you. Praise him and give him a toy when he comes to a complete stop. Repeat these steps until your puppy is no longer chasing your feet or ankles when you walk around.
- Provide your puppy with new and exciting toys to play with to keep him from gnawing on you or your clothing.
- Allow your puppy to interact with friendly, vaccinated adult dogs and other puppies. Playing and socializing with other dogs is critical for your puppy’s development, and he’ll be less motivated to play rough with you if he spends a lot of energy on it.
- Use a time-out procedure similar to the one described above but with slightly different rules. Instead of punishing your puppy for biting too hard, begin punishing him whenever his teeth come into contact with your skin.
- Let out a high-pitched yelp when your puppy’s teeth come into contact with you. Then walk away from him immediately. For 30 to 60 seconds, ignore him. Leave the room for 30 to 60 seconds if your puppy follows you or continues to bite and nip at you. Make sure the room has been “puppy-proofed” before leaving your puppy alone. Don’t leave him alone with items that could cause him harm. Return to the room and calmly resume whatever you were doing with your puppy after the brief time-out.
- You can also attach a leash to your puppy and let it dangle on the floor while you supervise him during time-out training. When your puppy mouths you, instead of leaving the room, take his leash and lead him to a quiet area, tether him, and turn your back on him for a brief time-out. Untie him and go back to your previous task.
- Consider using a taste deterrent if a time-out isn’t possible or practical. Before you begin interacting with your puppy, spray areas of your body and clothing he likes to mouth. Stop moving and wait for him to react to the bad taste of the deterrent if he mouths you or your clothing. When he lets go of you, lavishly praise him. Apply the bad taste to your body and clothes for at least two weeks. Your puppy will most likely learn to inhibit his mouthy behavior after two weeks of being punished by the bitter taste every time he mouths you.
- Be understanding and patient. Mouthing is typical puppy and young dog behavior.
Everyone Should Exercise Caution
Avoid slapping the sides of his face or waving your fingers or toes in his face when playing with your puppy, as he may bite your hands and feet.
When puppies are slapped or hit for playing with their mouths, they bite harder and usually become more aggressive. Physical punishment can also cause fear in your puppy, leading to aggression. You should avoid whacking your puppy on the nose, sticking your fingers down his throat, and engaging in potentially painful or frightening punishments.
In general, do not discourage your puppy from playing with you. Play strengthens the bond between a dog and his human family. Teach your puppy that gentle play is preferable to not playing at all.
When your puppy is mouthing, he will charge forward and grab you if you move your hands or feet away. Allowing your hands and feet to become limp will make them far less appealing targets for your puppy.
When Does Mouthing Turn Into Aggression?
The vast majority of puppy-mouthing is unintentional. Some puppies, on the other hand, bite out of fear or frustration, which can foreshadow future aggression issues.
Temper Tantrums in Puppies
As a puppy parent, you can expect temper tantrums with your pup. Tantrums typically occur when you force your puppy to do something he does not want to, and simple actions may irritate him.
A puppy temper tantrum is more severe than playful mouthing, but differentiating between them can be difficult. A playful puppy has a relaxed body and a relaxed face. Despite his wrinkled muzzle, you won’t notice any tension in his facial muscles. When your puppy throws a temper tantrum, his body may stiffen, freeze, growl, or he may pull his lips back to reveal his teeth.
Refrain from yelling if you’re holding or handling your puppy. Yelping may encourage or exacerbate your puppy’s aggressive behavior. Stay emotionlessness and calm. Allow your puppy to leave after a few seconds of calmness. Biting in frustration is not something a puppy will grow out of, so it should be evaluated and resolved as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does a puppy stop biting?
The most important thing to remember is that most puppies outgrow biting or mouthing between three and five months.
What should you say to your puppy to get him to stop biting?
If your puppy begins to bite you, say “no” quickly and replace yourself with the tug toy/chew toy. When your dog plays with the toy, say “yes” and lavish him with praise. Teach your puppy to tug to avoid puppy biting.
What’s up with your puppy’s constant biting?
Puppies use their teeth to play and explore. It is how they learn about the world, like human babies, which is essential for their social development. Puppies will chew on anything and everything while teething.
When you pet your puppy, why does he bite you?
Puppies use their mouths to play with one another. Puppies frequently bite or “mouth” hands while playing or being petted, which is rarely aggressive or malicious behavior.