Puppies. So cute and cuddly. Everyone love these teeny-weeny doggos! They are clumsy, messy, playful balls of joy wrapped up in fur and wiggly butts, button noses and wobbly heads, provoking in us an automatic ‘cute response’. Basically, these munchkins grab our attention with their baby-eye-looks and baby-shark-teeth. Owie! I know. I know. I’ve been on the receiving end of those needle sharp teeth. While puppy mouthing and biting isn’t meant to cause you harm, those playful nips can still hurt. So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of questions and answers to help you comprehend reasons a puppy bites and how to stop biting habit of puppy. These will come handy to teach your puppy to curb his mouthy behaviour and keep playtime fun.
Awww! Come here you munchkin! Boop! Boop! ………Ouch!
Puppy mouthing. Is it normal?
Have you noticed babies putting everything, literally everything in their mouth? If yes, then you know what mouthing looks like. Mouthing, nipping and biting is an expected behaviour in puppyhood. Basically, mouthing is not only normal, but a sign of a growing interest in the world around new-borns, which helps them to learn about various shapes and textures of things they encounter. Just like human babies, it is common for puppies to mouth on objects. Furthermore, dogs prefer using their mouths rather than their paws for handling objects. This behaviour begins in puppyhood as young puppies start to explore their world. So when a puppy takes what he desires and wants to investigate further (“Is it soft or hard? Can I eat it? Does it make a sound?”), this often means he’ll put it in his mouth.
Why do puppies bite?
Mouthing or ‘play-biting’ is a natural non-aggressive behaviour in puppy development. Puppies start teething around 3 weeks which lasts for 2-3 months, and teething is painful for puppies as it is for babies. They often start gnawing at shoes and other stuff that are within their reach to relieve the pain and discomfort they feel in their mouth. By approximately 6 weeks, all of their deciduous teeth (milk teeth: the needle-sharp ones) will appear. These temporary puppy teeth hurt us sometimes when we wave our fingers and hands in front of their faces. Such tempting actions are invitations that say ‘bite me’ to a puppy. Besides this, your puppy will sometimes try to nip your toes or clothes, even when he is sleepy, tired, overexcited, frustrated, or in pain, because viewing the world as one big chew toy is a normal part of puppy development.
Why you shouldn’t neglect your puppy’s biting behaviour?
Puppy biting may look baby-cute at the beginning, but as your pup grows, these little nips can turn into painful experiences. Though unintentional, nips from a puppy’s teeth can hurt. Needless to say, puppy biting is not a behaviour anyone would wish for to continue, especially not into adulthood. Needle-sharp puppy teeth can effortlessly rip clothing and tear flesh, but an adult dog’s jaws can also do worse. Even friendly dogs can cause awful damage if not taught how to curb their biting behaviour.
Sadly, one accidental bite could label your puppy as a “dangerous dog”. No one likes a destructive dog, or dog-bite disputes and costly medical bills. Puppy’s and dogs often don’t know how hard they’re biting. Thus, if you do not wish your puppy-raising experience to include that one moment when Oreo playfully bites a finger and draws blood, then it’s important for your puppy to learn that human skin is a no-play-zone.
How to stop biting habit of puppy ?
While a certain amount of play-biting is normal and a necessary part of your puppy’s development, there are some common reasons they display a bitey behaviour beyond normal. It is important to curb this bitey behaviour at the right age. Teaching a dog that excessive biting is unacceptable and painful, redirecting his actions and reinforcing self-control can help inhibit such behaviour. Let’s take a look at these easy tips on how to stop biting habit of puppy in a few weeks.
Create virtual boundaries: I won’t lie; dear dog parents this step is going to be a little hard for you but you will not regret it. Please note: when you bring a puppy into your home, it’s your job to create a fair and constructive boundary for unwanted behaviours, including when it comes to teeth on skin. Know how? Ignore unwanted actions and avoid drama. Yes, no timeouts or punishment for Oreo! A behaviour that doesn’t get attention will automatically stop. So, if your pup bites you, just ignore and remove YOURSELF from the scene. If your puppy tries to nip at you when you return, gently leave again. Be consistent and you will see a major improvement within a few days. Be sure to love Oreo and give him lots of attention and praise when he is behaving nicely. Who’s a good boy! Who’s a good boy!
No rough-housing: It’s not uncommon to see many owners enjoying rough-housing with their pups, where playing in a violent and very physical manner is encouraged. Pups love it and may come back for more. But this behaviour becomes a lot less fun when your dog’s adult teeth come in, and he is bigger and stronger. Also, it can be dangerous for people whose skin may be more delicate, like kids or the elderly. It becomes very difficult for a puppy to turn his energetic behaviour off, even when you consider the game is over. Most importantly, any behaviour that has the potential to hurt a person can lead to injuries or lawsuits and the dog will pay the consequences.
There are ways to get a dog to stop roughhousing- when play turns aggressive, your job is to stop the game, calmly give him a break, and start the game only when he’s completely relaxed. Eventually, your puppy will learn that rough behaviour leads to ‘game over’.
Teach bite inhibition: I cannot emphasize enough on how important it is for dog owners to teach their puppy to use their teeth without causing pain to others. A dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition is unaware of the sensitivity of human skin, so the dog bites too hard, even when he’s playing. Dog behaviourists say that bite-inhibition-trained dogs bite less hard if they unintentionally bite someone due to fear or pain. I’m almost sure, there may come a time when your puppy is in pain or fear, and he nips you or someone else. But if he has learned bite inhibition, he will soften his bite force. Here’s how.
As commonly seen, puppies nip at each other while playing. If a pup bites too hard on his sibling, the sibling will give out a high-pitched yelp, warning his naughty brother, “Hey, that hurt, back off!”So,you can teach your dog in the same way, by making a high-pitched shrill “oww” sound every time he bites you hard. It’s very important you don’t react further to your pup and that the game ends, at least for a short time, and hand him a toy for meanwhile.
Redirect to toys: While puppy mouthing looks cute, it’s never appropriate for a puppy’s teeth to contact human flesh. Rather, a biting behaviour should be redirected towards toys. Oreo needs to learn how to behave with people and other dogs, including how to play. It’s fine to play energetically with him and for him to use his teeth, but this type of play should be guided on to proper play objects. Keep lots of toys and a variety of hard toys around your puppy, especially when you start a play session with him. When your pup goes to use his teeth on you, gently place a toy in his mouth. Additionally, in the absence of hard and strong toys puppies tend to chew on furniture, shoes, books and everything in their reach. Solution? Toys, toys and more toys!!!
Never punish: Punishing means giving attention to a dog, and like I said before, ignore an unwanted behaviour, as a behaviour that doesn’t get attention will automatically stop. Be a good dog parent and strictly avoid physical punishmentwhen it comes to puppy biting. Bad dog parents do things like, squeezing their puppy’s mouth, muzzling them for hours, and beating them on their snouts. Lose the anger, your puppy is NOT acting dominant, and you do not need to physically punish him to curb this behaviour. Most importantly, physical punishments are ineffective to cruel and downright abusive. In fact, these actions encourage the very behaviour you do not wish to happen. It also weakens the bond between you and your dog. Dogs that are punished, both physically and verbally, happen to develop stress and retaliate with aggression.
Reinforce good behaviour: Question:What’s better than being a good dog-parent? Answer: Being a smart dog-parent. Try this: instead of working on unwanted behaviours, work on the behaviours you want in your pup. This can be easily done by completely ignoring bad behaviour and giving full attention and praise to your pup’s good behaviour. When Oreo plays well with you, boost him with a treat, his favourite toy or a feel-good belly rub, and remember to praise them in abundance. Indeed, when a reward occurs after a good behaviour, that particular behaviour will be strengthened. This will ensure your pup is encouraged to play in a manner where everyone has fun.
What if my pup still bites?
It’s best to play with your pup in a manner that’s less likely to hurt, right from the very beginning. However, play biting does not mean your puppy is savage. Moreover, now, since you are aware that this is just his way of browsing his world, having fun or getting your attention, you can manage things way better than before. Adopt these simple tips to train your pup to play in an appropriate manner, and if your pup continues to be too rough and destructive, you can seek professional help from a certified professional dog trainer.
The sign of great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”