Raising a furry bundle of joy always makes for an incredibly exciting time in every home. Puppies are especially breathtaking, both literally and figuratively: it’s exhilarating to watch them run around and explore the world, but just as tiring to wrangle them away from places or things that could harm them!
One of the things all puppies go through is mouthing and biting. Their sudden inclination for biting everything may worry you, but don’t fret! This is no cause for concern, as they discover their surroundings using their mouth. Their teething process also lasts for two to three months, and they relieve this irritation through chewing pretty much anything. Some breeds are even predisposed to nip, chase, or herd small but rapidly moving objects, like smaller animals or even young children.
Here are the dos and don’ts of puppy biting:
DO: Create Consistent Biting Boundaries
Puppies have yet to learn on what is acceptable to bite and what isn’t—they don’t know the distinct difference between a plastic ball and your foot, after all. If your puppy has made a chew toy out of your hand, quickly remove yourself from the interaction by withdrawing your hand and walking away. Ignoring the behavior is more energy-efficient and effective than lecturing your puppy, as they probably won’t understand what you’re talking about.
Distinguishing that playtime is over once your puppy bites you helps it understand that biting you is not acceptable. If they continue nipping at you, they’ll learn to stop once you consistently remove yourself.
DON’T: Physically Punish Biting
Physically punishing a natural reaction to biting is completely unnecessary and will traumatize your puppy. Biting and mouthing is not aggressive behavior; they are simply learning how to deal with the growth of its new teeth while acquainting itself with the world around it. In fact, physically punishing your dog often creates aggression and fear in it. Although you may have heard that clamping your puppy’s mouth shut with your hand is an effective way to stop the biting, all this does is make it fear you or become more hostile.
DO: Reinforce Good Behavior
The best way for puppies to learn good behavior is if they are consistently rewarded for it. This means that everyone in your household who has regular contact with the puppy must praise and reward it appropriately, like with a treat, when it behaves well. This helps it learn that specific behavior, such as not biting humans, will give it attention, praise, and treats—causing it to repeat the behavior until it’s a habit.
DON’T: Yell at Your Puppy
If you yelp when your puppy nips or bites you, your puppy might grow excited, thinking that you’re playing along with it. Yelling or pushing your puppy away may cause it to think that it’s playtime, which will encourage even more biting and nipping. Reacting to its behavior with attention may cause the puppy to misinterpret you, which is why it’s better to quietly and calmly remove yourself from the situation instead of yelling.
DO: Provide a Space for Your Puppy
All puppies need their own space to play and rest. It allows them to romp freely and play with their toys without bumping into anything while offering you space to rest from caring for them. If the biting proves to be too much and removing yourself doesn’t work, placing them in their playpen that’s cordoned off by a gate will help them learn that biting you will put a stop to playtime.
DON’T: Punish It By Withholding Their Needs
Punishing your puppy for biting and mouthing through excessive crating, withholding exercise, or