You have just brought home a puppy and it seems biting is its biggest hobby? Do not panic. Biting is normal behavior at puppies. They use their little sharp teeth to explore the world and to learn. First, they bite their mum, siblings, then toys, plants and also people. But, you should train your puppy not to bite people.
You can start training your puppy or even an adult dog not to bite people anytime. But generally, the sooner the better. Today we will show you several ways how to inhibit puppy biting while not breaking its confidence.
Do not run
First of all, if your puppy starts biting you, do not run away from it, as the moving object is much more interesting for it. A moving or even screaming object (or person) might remind a prey to your dog. Instead for not biting you it will chase you and finally bite you as well. Do not make sudden motions of your hands or legs, and do not hysterically scream.
If a puppy bites us and we say “aww” together with painful facial expression, the majority of puppies can understand this. They recognize that they have just hurt us. Our loving cute puppy usually does not want to cause any pain to us. This is, why the majority of puppies just stops biting you already after “aww” command. Some puppies can start to lick you instead of biting as soon as it realizes it was painful for you. As if telling you “sorry I hurt you”.
But, if your puppy is a real little “biting monster” and the more you scream “aww – aww – aww”, the more it bites you, you should try some of the following techniques.
In the process of socialization, when puppies are small and they are with their mother and siblings, they learn how to control their mouth from the reactions of other dogs in the pack. If they bite too strong, their mother usually stands up and goes away. If they bite too strong another puppy during play, the bitten puppy yelps and stops playing. So there are the other dogs telling “no” to your puppy, teaching it, what kind of biting is acceptable, and which is not.
After you take your puppy home, you must continue this learning process. One of the ways how to train your puppy not to bite is a word command for example “no”. We recommend using this command together with the hand signal and interruption of all activities with the puppy. Each time your puppy bites you, say “no”, stand up and show your index finger. At the same time stop playing (or any other activity) with your puppy. Thus your puppy will soon realize that if it bites you, the “game is over”.
If your puppy stops biting you after the command, do not forget to praise it for the good behavior ideally giving it its favorite toy. We do not recommend giving food in this case! If you use food as treat in this case, later your puppy might start biting you each time it will be hungry asking thus for food. So it might bite you just to get the reward after it stops biting you.
Offering an object to bite
As we train our dogs also for protection, we do not want to discourage our puppies from biting. That is why at really small puppies we do not say “no” when they want to bite. As later, during protection training we want them to bite. Moreover, we want them to bite not only the toys but also people. If we would teach our puppies that biting people is something bad and undesired, we might have problems using these puppies for protection.
This method is really simple and it is highly recommended if you want to train your puppy later for protection. As soon as your puppy bites you, put a soft toy (plushie) in front of its mouth so as your puppy can bite it instead of your hand, clothes or leg. You can use a whistle toy or any other toy making noise to grab your puppy´s attention. Some puppies prefer biting moving objects, so move the toy around (still keeping it in front of your puppy´s mouth).
When your puppy bites the toy, praise it by words like “good”, “clever boy” or whatever you have for praising your dog. You can keep holding and bit pulling the toy so your puppy has the feeling it is fighting with the toy and finally beating it. Soon it will find out, biting the toy is much more interesting than biting you.
How to persuade your puppy not to bite you but the object
What to do if your puppy ignores the toy and still bites you? The solution is really simple. Your body language mustn´t remind a prey first of all. So stop moving, running, shaking the hands, clapping and whatever you are doing, due to which your puppy finds you an interesting object.
Then, have a soft toy at you. As soon as your puppy opens its mouth to bite you, put the toy in its mouth. As soon as it bites the toy you must praise the dog. It might release the toy and try to bite you. If it tries to bite you, you tell command “no” and offer the toy instead (or even put it into its open mouth). You will repeat this as many time as needed so as your puppy to understand that biting the toy is the desired behavior (the puppy is praised for it) while biting you is not (the puppy hears “no” command, sees your index finger up and the game is over).
Below we will show the steps how to train your puppy not to bite as the combinations of methods mentioned above.
Steps how to train a puppy not to bite
- Choose the word which you will use for not to bit “no”.
- Have a soft toy (plushie).
- If your puppy bites you say “no”, stand up and show your index finger. At the same time stop playing (or any other activity) with your puppy.
- Praise your puppy if it stops biting you.
- If it continues biting you, put a soft toy (plushie) in front of its mouth so as your puppy can bite it instead of you.
- Praise your puppy if it bites the toy. Use words like “good”, “clever boy” or whatever you have for praising your dog. You can keep holding and bit pulling the toy so your puppy has the feeling it is fighting with the toy and finally beating it.
- After a while, stop playing and praise your puppy.
- Repeat each time (Steps 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) when your puppy wants to bite you until it understands it must not bite you, only the toys.
If you prefer reading “How to train a puppy not to bite” in Spanish, click here.
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