How to Stop a Puppy from Biting in 7 Quick Steps

by | Mar 21, 2022 | Puppies | 0 comments

Is your puppy biting, snapping, chasing, wrestling, growling and having a hoot of time gnawing on your leg? Meanwhile, are you wide eyed in horror, wondering if you can make it unscathed from one side of the room to the other? Welcome to the world of raising a puppy! In this article, we outline some helpful steps you can take to reduce snappy puppy behaviour and we provide tips on how to help your puppy calm down.

Learn how to stop a puppy biting fast

Learning how to stop a puppy biting fast is a necessary task for many new puppy owners. When you bring a new puppy home, the first few days are likely to be quite overwhelming it. This can lead to reserved and even cuddly behaviour as your new pup considers its safety and seeks comfort. Then, just as you relax into a new cuddly comfort zone, your precious puppy relaxes too, allowing its inner piranha to come and play! Ouch. But don’t worry, your angelic fur-baby is still there. He or she just needs a little help to understand how we humans play. So if you’re looking for ways to humanise your puppies play quickly, we’ve got 5 key steps you can take to stop a ‘crazy’ puppy from biting.

1. Speak your pup’s language

As pack animals, dogs communicate vocally. They yelp, bark, wince and growl to tell each other how they feel. They don’t, however, come pre-programmed with a list of English commands, so for quick results with your new pup, it can be more effective to speak their language than ours. We know that puppies chase and bite each other to fulfill a natural hunting drive, to expel excess energy and to have fun! But what happens when it’s not fun? When one one pup bites another too hard, the victim is likely to wince or yelp. This is the signal to their siblings to back off and play more gently. And it’s a signal the pup understands, because they know their pack members are not their prey and they’ve no doubt experienced a pain like this themselves. So the first step you can take to stop your puppy biting is to yelp when their teeth touch your skin. Try a high-pitched yelp or wince and watch to see what happens.

As long as you don’t overuse this little trick, your puppy is likely to be startled by your complaint re their play and tone down their behaviour in response. And if they don’t, well, they know a parental doggy growl when they hear one too, so it’s ok to let them know you’re displeased with a growly voice, just don’t go overboard and cause them distress.

2. Redirect your pup’s play

While it’s natural for young puppies to mouth and bite each other, it’s less than pleasant when they sink their teeth into your leg. Another trick is to show them what they can bite by quickly offering a substitute like a toy or chew and potentially avoiding the need to reprimand them altogether. The moral of this story is to have a chew toy handy it all time! You may even consider keeping one in your pocket. Also, be sure to praise your puppy once they are chewing and biting the right thing: the toy, not you! The more you can use positive reinforcement over negative, the healthier your puppy is likely to be in the long run.

3. Stimulate your puppy with training time

Your puppy’s mouthy behaviour may be a sign that they’re restless or have excess energy to burn. So it could be a great time to introduce an alternate form of stimulation: puppy training time! Grab a back of treats and consider investing 5 to 10 minutes into teaching your puppy to sit, stay and come. Even if they only master sit, they’ll have fun following you and your bag of treats around and they’ll quickly learn that there are no treats for latching onto your leg!

4. Regularly play new games with your pup

In the same way that puppies don’t come pre-programmed with a knowledge of the English language, it’s also highly unlikely that their K9 siblings have taught them to play fetch or walk around the block. Games and exercise are a brilliant outlet for your pup but they often need some help learning the rules. By teaching your pup other ways to have fun, you can more easily redirect their attention from biting and strengthen your bond.

5. Freeze and avoid eye contact with your pup

When your pup bites and chases in a frenzied game of chase (alas, yes, many of them do that) try to contain the urge to wrestle them into submission (remember wrestling is fun for pups) and never ever run! Dogs instinctively love to chase so by running you’re telling them that you’re good to play. Instead, try turning your back on your pup. Freeze and avoid eye contact. This signals your lack of interest in the game. If your puppy continues to bite, calmly leave the room without interaction. Soon enough, this biting game will cease being fun!

6. Use a timeout space

You can give yourself and your puppy a breather from rough play by having a safe timeout space for your puppy when their play proves no fun. This is useful if your puppy isn’t understanding how much you truly dislike being bitten – how could that be when it’s just so fun for them! With repetition, your puppy will learn they don’t get to enjoy your company when they bite, but they do get your attention when they play games your way. It may be worth having some chew toys in the timeout zone to help them relax and relieve sore, teething gums.

7. Remind yourself this time will pass

Finally, remember this is just one small stage of your dog’s life. Puppydom can seem overwhelming at times, especially if you’ve introduced a puppy into what was previously a quiet calm, house. But your dog will learn your way of living, the mouthiness will pass and that beautiful dog you’ve been dreaming of will be lying next to you calmly on the couch in no time! Until then, enjoy the puppy cuddles, soft whimpers, adorable smile and remember that empathy, kindness, patience and repetition all work wonders.

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Puptology is creating an encyclopaedic ode to dogs. It’s a fun site where people can read about their favourite breeds, learn about animal welfare, create funny memes and share in the joy of pet ownership. So sit back, relax and share in the puppy love. Or submit a post! We'd love to hear from you.

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