Managing and controlling puppy biting problems can be a major challenge for us dog lovers. Puppy biting or nipping starts out as a bit of fun, but needs to be controlled quickly to avoid ongoing problems.
For most young puppies biting is a perfectly natural and essential phase to go through, especially when they are teething.
Puppies love to sink their sharp little fangs into just about anything during this teething stage, including the hands and feet of their owners. In some cases it's like you've brought a snappy alligator into your home, instead of the cuddly little puppy you had hoped for.
The good news is that most puppies can be trained to regulate and minimize the biting pretty easily. The sooner you start to educate your puppy in bite inhibition (having a soft mouth) the easier it will be - for all concerned.
How To Stop Puppy Biting Problems
There a lots of proven training methods to help correct your puppy's behavioral problems. Before I get into the specific techniques you can use to stop your puppy from biting, always keep these general dog behavior training rules in mind:
Never slap or hit your puppy in the face. This does not work! Your puppy will just think you are playing or could become afraid of you. This may even lead to some much bigger problems than simple puppy nipping.
The general rule to stop puppy biting problems is to always encourage acceptable behavior and always discourage unacceptable behavior. To learn more about this fundamental rule of dog obedience training (including how to stop biting problems) visit Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer.
While you are trying to stop your puppies from biting, never play tug of war, wrestling or chase type games with them. This only encourages the biting and nipping.
Whichever method you choose to train your puppy the golden rule is be consistent. This means that you and anyone else who comes into contact with your puppy must enforce your chosen strategy every time your pup takes a nip.
If you don't clearly communicate to your dog that the biting is unacceptable, he will not know he is doing anything wrong. It's up to you to show him what is acceptable behavior, don't just expect your puppy to know this! (You are really taking on the role of his littermates for this task).
Another (extreme) reason puppies can bite is if they are trying to assert their dominance over you. If this is the case with your puppy, it must be stopped immediately. When you have a dominant puppy his biting will only be the beginning of many behavioral problems. To learn how to establish your position as the dominant one or leader in your owner-dog relationship click here.
Stop Your Puppy From Biting - Proven Techniques
Your goal to start with is to teach your puppy how to control the force of his/her biting. Your puppy's littermates will initiate this process and then it is up to you to continue on with it when your new puppy arrives home. This will ensure (not guarantee) that if your dog does bite someone in the future the damage will be minimized. When you have given your puppy sufficient feedback regarding the strength of his bite only then can you begin to reduce the prevalence of the biting behavior.
If you catch the biting problem early on it may be easy to rectify. Just try to redirect the biting from your flesh to a toy or chew bone. For very young puppies this method is often all you'll need do. As soon as your pup starts to bite your hands just let out a firm "No!" and replace your fingers with the chew toy (or ice cube if your puppy is teething).
This is probably the most popular method and my personal favorite. Make your puppy think he is hurting you each time he has a nip at you. This method replicates the way dogs sort out this biting amongst themselves. When puppies are biting and nipping each other it only stops when one puppy lets out a yelp. We can use this natural way dogs learn by letting out an Ouch! or an Arrr! every time one of our puppy's bite. The trick is to startle your dog with your voice, and then pull away and stop playing with your puppy for a while. Your pup will soon learn that when he starts to bite, his playmate (you) goes away.
Teach your puppy the obedience training command "Leave It!". This method works great but is more suitable for older puppies.
In bad biting cases as soon as your puppy latches onto your hand say "No!" and quickly put your thumb inside his mouth under his tongue, and your other finger under his chin. Hold it there for about 10 seconds (not too tightly). This will feel uncomfortable to your puppy plus he won't be able to bite you.
"Always Praise And Reward A Gentle Mouth And Ignore Or Withdraw From Inappropriate Nipping"
Again if your puppy has a severe biting problem you can try this training technique. Put on a pair of gloves and apply a foul tasting substance to them (something your dog doesn't like). Your dog will soon learn that if he bites you, it won't be tasty! This method produces a strong negative association to your dog every time he decides to bite you. Some dogs are smart enough to realize that when you take your foul tasting gloves off, it is fine to sink their fangs into you again!
For older puppies (around 6 months) this is a sure fire technique to stop puppy mouthing. Put a pinch or choke collar on your puppy and each time he bites you give the lead a short sharp tug. This correction will form an unpleasant association to your dog every time he bites you. It won't take him long to stop. Some trainers believe this method to be fairly extreme, and I agree that you would only need to call on it in very rare circumstances - I have never needed to go to this level. I believe it's far more effective to educate your puppy rather than inflicting punishment or trying to extinquish a behavior altogether.
How to stop a puppy from biting - these methods have been recommended to me, but I have never tried them myself:
Spray your puppy with water every time he starts nipping.
Fill up an empty can with rocks or coins. Each time your puppy starts biting say No! and give the can a shake. Apparently puppies hate this rattling noise.
If you're worried that you may have an overly aggressive puppy on your hands, please seek the advice of an experienced animal behaviorist or dog trainer.
Like I mentioned earlier, the most important piece of advice regardless of which training method you choose is to be consistent and provide the clear feedback your puppy needs to learn.
To stop your puppy from biting and also to have proper control over your dog in all circumstances, you may be interested in performing some do-it-yourself dog obedience training. This is the training system I use on my own dogs - Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer.