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If you’re reading this, chances are you have a puppy that won’t stop biting. But, not to worry, you’re in good company.
Puppy biting is the number one behavior complaint of new dog owners. It can be frustrating and downright dangerous when your puppy won’t stop nipping at your hands and clothes.
In this post, we’ll discuss the main reasons puppies bite in the first place, the biggest mistake new owners make, and some force-free ways to get your pup to finally stop nipping you!
Table of Contents
Main Reasons Why Puppies Bite
1) Playing/Overly Excited
One of the most common reasons puppies bite is because they’re playing or overly excited. When puppies are young, they haven’t learned how to control their biting instincts yet. So they may nip at you when they’re feeling playful or during a game of fetch.
It’s not done in an aggressive way; they’re simply play biting and haven’t learned how to play yet without nipping.
Just like babies, puppies go through a teething phase where they’re desperately trying to relieve the pain and pressure in their gums by chewing on anything they can sink their teeth into. This is usually around the ages of four to seven months old.
If they aren’t given direction on what’s okay to nibble on, more often than not, it’ll be on your hands, feet, or clothing!
3) It’s How They Interact
Puppies play with their littermates by biting and mouthing. When they’re first taken away from their mother and littermates, they see you as their new pack. They don’t know how else to interact with you except by biting and mouthing as they did with their brothers and sisters.
Also, they don’t have hands like you and me. Which means they can’t pick things up and touch them to get a feel for them. They have to put things in their mouth to get a better understanding of them.
Puppies may also bite out of anxiousness or nerves. For example, if they’re in an unfamiliar situation or around new people, they may get anxious and start to bite as a way to self-soothe.
This reason is more commonly seen in puppies that were taken away from their mother and littermates too early (before eight weeks old).
5) Unintentionally Trained
Last but not least, puppies may start to nip more if they’ve unintentionally been trained to do so. If every time they nip you, you wrestle with them or give them any positive attention, they think biting is simply part of the game. To them, it’s just like when you’re playing fetch, and you throw the ball for them to retrieve.
The same goes if you’ve been playing ‘tug-of-war’ with them using your hands or clothes. They think that’s how the game is played and become more likely to nip when they’re excited or playing.
Now that we know some of the main reasons puppies bite let’s talk about the biggest mistake new owners make when their puppy won’t stop biting.
The Biggest Mistake People Make That Encourages Biting
The biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to start teaching their puppy not to bite. They think the biting is just a phase and that their pup will eventually grow out of it. But the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to change the behavior.
Puppies are like sponges; they’re constantly learning and taking in their surroundings. So if you wait until they’re six months old to start teaching them not to bite, they’ve already spent most of their life thinking it’s okay to nip and mouth at people.
It’s important to start teaching your puppy bite inhibition or that biting is not how to play nicely from the moment you bring them home. That way, they learn it’s not okay to nip or mouth at people and won’t think it’s part of playtime.
5 Force-Free Tips To Help Stop Puppy Biting
1) Put Them In Food Mode
One of the best ways to stop a puppy from biting is to put them in food mode. How you do this is by having treats on you as often as possible. And if you know which times of the day your puppy tends to bite more, make sure you always have treats available then.
What you’ll be doing is turning them from ‘biting mode’ to ‘food mode.’ Then, when they start biting, get them to stop and redirect their excess energy to the treat and use it as an opportunity for training.
It’s important only to give them the treat when they’re not biting or mouthing. If you give them the treat while they’re still doing it, they’ll think that’s what you wanted and that you’re rewarding them for biting and nipping.
This method is excellent because it satisfies their desire to interact with you, and it satisfies your desire for a well-behaved pup.
2) Increase Daily Physical & Mental Stimulation
Another way to help stop your puppy from biting is to make sure they’re getting enough physical and mental stimulation. You have to be careful with too much physical exercise, though.
Long walks for young puppies aren’t a good idea because too much exercise can stunt their growth. Instead, physical stimulation with a young puppy should be more centered around play sessions and shorter walks.
Puppies have a lot of energy, and if they’re not given an outlet for it, they’ll start finding their own ways to burn off that energy. And one of those ways is biting.
So make sure you’re giving them plenty of opportunities to use up that energy. If you can’t commit to a few short walks or interactive games every day, there are other options like doggy daycare, dog parks, or hiring a dog walker/sitter.
3) Redirection & Substitution
When your puppy starts biting, you can redirect their attention by offering them a toy or bone to chew on instead. This is a great way to stop the biting behavior while also giving them something constructive to do with their mouth.
You can also use this opportunity to teach them what you do want them to chew on. So, for example, if they start chewing on your hand, say “no” and offer them a toy instead. If they start chewing on the toy, praise them and give them a treat.
This is a great way to teach your puppy what is and isn’t okay to chew on.
4) Use Boredom As Punishment
Another method you can try is using boredom.
Whenever they start biting, immediately remove yourself from the situation and ignore them. This means no eye contact, talking, or interacting in any way. You can leave the room if it’s easier.
After a few minutes, come back and see if they’ve stopped biting. If they have, praise them and give them a treat. If they haven’t, repeat the process.
Ignoring your puppy when they’re biting might not seem like a huge punishment, but dogs are social creatures, and being ignored is one of the worst things in their mind.
5) Teach Them To Have a “Soft Mouth”
A puppy can either learn how to have a soft mouth by playing with other puppies or when playing with people.
To teach your puppy to have a soft mouth, start by offering them your hand to play with. Let them mouth and chew on it for a few seconds, then say “ouch” in a high-pitched voice, remove your hand, and stop interacting with them.
Do this every time they mouth or bite you, and eventually, they’ll start to understand that if they’re too rough, they won’t get to play anymore, which is the last thing they want.
This is also commonly called the yelping method.
How To Know If Your Puppy Is Making Progress
A sign that your efforts to stop your puppy’s biting are starting to work is when they start licking more than biting.
While they may still mouth your hand, if you notice they move between nibbles to licks and progressively more licks than nibbles, they’re on the right track.
You should also see a decrease in the forcefulness of their bites. So, if they were biting hard enough to leave bruises, and now they’re only leaving red marks, that’s another good sign.
If you notice these changes, what you’re doing is working, and if you continue doing what you’re doing, you should see their biting stop in no time.
4 Things To Avoid When Trying To Get Your Puppy To Stop Biting
1) Physically Punishing
This should go without saying, but you should never physically punish your dog for their puppy bites. This includes hitting, slapping, smacking, or any other type of physical violence.
Not only is this incredibly ineffective, but it will also damage your relationship with your puppy and make them more likely to bite in the future out of fear or aggression.
And, even worse, it could lead to your puppy becoming aggressive themselves. So, please, never physically punish your puppy for biting or any other reason.
2) Being Inconsistent
If you’re constantly changing up how you’re trying to get your puppy to stop biting, they’re never going to know what’s expected of them, and they’re not going to learn.
So, if one day you’re using positive reinforcement and the next you’re using negative reinforcement, or you’re constantly changing what you’re rewarding or punishing them for, they’re going to get confused, and the biting will continue.
It’s important to be consistent with your puppy and use the same method or methods every time to try and stop the biting. Unless, of course, you’ve found a method to be ineffective, then you’ll want to switch to another technique and be consistent with that one.
Consistency is key when it comes to puppies, and that’s especially true when you’re trying to get them to stop biting.
3) Not Being Prepared
If you’re not prepared for your puppy to start biting, the chances of you being able to stop them are slim.
You need to have a plan in place for when they start biting so you can be consistent with your method of choice and not let the biting continue.
Being prepared also means having the right supplies on hand. So, if you’re using positive reinforcement, make sure you have treats ready to go or toys nearby to redirect their attention with.
Making sure you have a plan and the supplies you need before your puppy starts biting will help you train your puppy more quickly.
4) Unrealistic Expectations
A big mistake many new puppy owners make is having unrealistic expectations. Thinking that your puppy will stop biting after a couple of days or weeks using the techniques above is setting yourself up for disappointment.
While some puppies can learn quickly, others will take longer. It’s better to understand that it will take time and be happily surprised when it stops after your consistent training.
Rushing the process or getting frustrated because your puppy isn’t learning as quickly as you want them to will only make matters worse and likely make the biting continue.
Puppy Biting FAQs
Why My 8 Month Old Puppy Won’t Stop Biting?
If your puppy is older and still biting, there could be a few reasons why. It could be that they never learned not to bite in the first place, or it could be that they’re mouthy by nature.
Some breeds are more prone to being mouthy than others and will need more training to stop the biting. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Bull Terriers are just a few of the breeds that are known for being mouthy.
If your puppy is older and still biting, it’s important to be patient and consistent with your training. They can learn. It just might take a little longer.
Why My 3 Month Old Puppy Won’t Stop Biting?
When your puppy is still this young, there are a few reasons why they might be biting. One reason could be that they’re teething, and their gums are sore.
Another possibility is that they’re just exploring their environment, and their mouth is the best way to do that. Puppies are also known for being mouthy, so it could just be their natural inclination.
At 3 months old, your puppy is still very young and has a lot of growing and learning to do. Be patient with them and consistent with your training, and they’ll learn not to bite in no time.
Why My 9 Week Old Puppy Won’t Stop Biting?
At this age, it’s completely normal for your puppy to be biting. They’re getting familiar with their environment and learning what’s okay and not okay.
You shouldn’t expect a 9 week old puppy to have passed their biting phase. They’re still teething, learning, and exploring their surroundings.
My Puppy Won’t Stop Biting Me And My Clothes What Do I Do?
If your puppy is biting you and your clothes, there are a few things you can do. One is to provide them with an acceptable chew toy to gnaw on instead.
They need to learn what’s okay to chew on and what’s not. It’s also important to show them that biting on your clothes is not the proper way to play.
They’ve likely learned that biting on your clothes gets them attention and/or starts a play session. The best thing to do is redirect their attention and biting energy to an acceptable alternative.
Also, you want to ignore them and stop interacting with them if they do this. They need to learn that biting on you and your clothes is not the way to get your attention.
Puppy Won’t Stop Biting Feet What Do I Do?
If your puppy is biting your feet, it’s likely because they’re teething or they want your attention.
The best thing to do here is to provide them with an acceptable chew toy and redirect their attention when they start biting your feet. Or, you can give them a warm cloth to chew on to help soothe their toothache.
You also want to ignore them if they start biting your feet and not interact with them at all. They need to learn that this is the wrong way to go about getting your attention.
When Do Puppies Stop Biting So Much?
Puppies will eventually stop biting so much as they get older and learn what’s acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Of course, some puppies will learn faster than others, but eventually, they all learn.
Generally, most puppies are past their biting phase by the time they’re around 12 months old. However, some breeds (like those mentioned earlier) are known for being mouthy and might take a little longer to outgrow this phase.
If you’re patient and consistent with your training, your puppy will eventually learn not to bite. Just remember that it takes time, and every puppy is different.
If you are in the situation where you’re saying to yourself my puppy won’t stop biting me I’ve tried everything, don’t worry. It’s normal for puppies to bite, but they need dog training to learn it’s not friendly behavior.
Remember to be patient and consistent with your training, provide them with acceptable chew toys, and ignore them if they start biting you. In time, your puppy will learn not to bite.
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