Certified Dog Trainer Tips: How to Stop Puppy Biting (So You Can Finally Introduce Your New Puppy to Everyone!)
Puppies are so cute, cuddly and lovable, but they can also be a pain – literally! One of the most common issues that dog parents face is their puppy biting them. Puppy teeth hurt more than you might think, and it can be really frustrating when your pup just won’t stop nipping.
Have you ever wondered why your puppy bites? It’s important to understand this if you want to stop the behavior. In this fantastic guest post by certified dog trainer Lisa Gallegos, Lisa tells us the 5 main reasons puppies bite and explains how to stop your puppy from biting.
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If you’re anything like me, then puppies instantly melt your heart. And I know we’re not alone – studies have shown that the hormone oxytocin is released whenever humans look at a puppy!
What many people forget (or don’t realize) is that puppies also have razor-sharp ‘shark teeth’ that hurt REAL bad when they decide to bite our skin.
Unfortunately, biting is a reality of adopting a puppy. This is because both puppies and dogs communicate, interact, and play with their mouths. But I have some good news: the awesome thing about dogs is that they are easy to train (compared to other species) and we can teach our new four-legged family members how to play and interact with us in a more appropriate (and less painful) way.
How do we do this? It’s simple (but not necessarily easy):
Brainstorm why your puppy is biting, and then provide an alternative, more appropriate outlet.
Don’t worry – I won’t leave you hanging.
Below, you’ll find the most common reasons why puppies bite (along with an appropriate outlet).
1 DISCOMFORT FROM TEETHING
If you have a young puppy, it’s important to provide them with a variety of chews to help alleviate the discomfort they’re experiencing from teething. Make sure you buy all types of textures and sizes of toys. My favorites for puppies are wood toys, stuffed animals, Kongs, latex toys, and Nylabones.
Double-check all toys are appropriate for the size of your puppy to prevent choking hazards and monitor while they chew. Ingesting any parts of non-edible toys could cause a stomach blockage (and an expensive vet bill).
BEST-SELLING PLUSH TOY
LATEX SQUEAKY DOG TOY
Take a moment to observe two dogs playing and you’ll notice they chase, tug, and ‘play fight’ with their mouths/teeth!
Because puppies are not innately familiar with how humans play, they assume that we like to ‘play fight’ as well! What they don’t realize, is that most humans do not enjoy having razor-sharp puppy teeth bite into their arms. Next time your puppy tries to bite your heels or arms, try to redirect to a toy and initiate a game of tug.
Try not to say ‘no’ or ‘ow’ in an excited voice, or you’ll turn yourself into an XL human squeaky toy (which will most likely make your puppy even MORE excited).
While we humans have a lot of things to do at home (like check emails, read a book, watch a movie), our puppies are generally very limited. Many pup parents forget that puppies need mental stimulation aka ‘brain drain exercises.’
A classic snuffle mat – hide dog treats in the folds of the fabric to give your dog endless fun! Stimulate your dog’s natural sniffing instincts by mimicking the hunt for food. Made from non-toxic and safe materials.
If your dog loves snuffle mats, how about a larger activity mat? These are fantastic enrichment toys and will keep your dog occupied for even longer…
4 THEY’RE TRYING TO SAY ‘NO’
Our puppies don’t speak English. As a result, if they don’t want to do something, they might attempt to redirect YOU by trying to initiate play. For example, if your puppy hates being brushed, they may mouth to say ‘stop, let’s play fight instead.’
Just like any other behavior, we must teach our pups to enjoy these activities through training to enjoy being brushed, handled, picked up, and touched. The best thing you can do is practice these exercises while they are still under 16 weeks (known as their ‘critical socialization period.’)
5 TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT
This is the most common reason your puppy is biting. Sometimes, our puppies are tired – but they don’t want to miss out on the fun, and forget to nap.
Similar to toddlers who might throw a fit during a long road trip, when our puppies are tired, they cannot rationally think. When you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to put your puppy away in their confinement area (think a crate or puppy-proofed area). You’ll notice your puppy may initially cry, but they’ll quickly fall into a deep slumber after just a few minutes.
Even if your puppy doesn’t fall asleep, it’s important that they learn that the consequence of play biting is that playtime ends.
BONUS TIP – HAND-FEED YOUR PUPPY THEIR MEALS
Hand-feeding teaches your puppy to use a ‘soft mouth’ around your hands. Additionally, it
teaches your puppy to be comfortable with human hands around their food (which can help prevent growling and snapping around food in the future).
Want more training tips so you can start your new puppy off on the right ‘paw’?
Make sure you check out my free on-demand webinar called the 5 biggest training mistakes and how to avoid them (so you can live a more peaceful life with your pup).
The Five Biggest Training Mistakes Pup Parents Make & How to Avoid Them
Start your new puppy off in the right ‘paw. Join certified dog trainer, Lisa Gallegos, to learn more about how you can avoid common pup training mistakes like:
- Waiting to train AFTER an issue arises
- Saying ‘no’ when our pups are being naughty
- Thinking that dominance is needed to train
- Not using a verbal marker or clicker
- Forgetting to mentally enrich our pups
So if you’ve been tearing your hair out wondering how to stop puppy biting when playing, or how to stop puppy biting when excited, you should now have a better understanding of why your puppy bites and how to stop it from happening. Be sure to check out Lisa’s free webinar on the 5 biggest training mistakes and how to avoid them (so you can live a more peaceful life with your pup).