With their 28 sharp little teeth, puppies can make playtime a painful experience for your fingers and toes. While this behavior, termed “play biting” by dog trainers, can be quite bothersome, it is an entirely natural part of their development. However, there’s good news: you can redirect and train this behavior with patience and the following steps.
Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition
All dogs must understand the concept of moderating their bite’s force. This lesson proves vital when they may react out of pain or fear. Just like a puppy’s mother or sibling would yelp when bitten too hard during play, you can mimic this by exclaiming a high-pitched “ow!” to indicate that it hurt. However, if this excites your pup even more, it’s wise to walk away quietly or let them cool down in their crate for a bit. When they restrain themselves, reward them with a treat and kind words.
Play Biting Means Game Over
Teach your furry friend that biting leads to an end in playtime. Surprisingly, even yelling or physical reprimands can be seen as rewards in their eyes. Instead, pivot and tuck your hands away. This technique is not just a mere way to protect yourself but also a calming gesture for your pup.
Offer Chewable Alternatives
Always have a puppy chew toy within arm’s reach. This allows you to replace your hand or furniture with something more appropriate for them to gnaw on. If they continue biting, halt the play session.
Avoid The Playful Pounce
For puppies that love to ambush your feet or legs, we recommend you carry a treat alongside your leg while walking. This not only distracts them but also aids in teaching them to walk correctly with a leash.
Time-Outs Can Help
If your pup gets too rowdy, a short time in their crate can be beneficial. However, always ensure the crate isn’t associated with punishment. Once they’ve calmed down, let them out.
Recognize Their Needs
Sometimes, a biting puppy might just be exhausted and need a nap. Other possibilities include them wanting to relieve themselves or feeling thirsty or hungry.
Reward Calm Behaviors
We often overlook praising our puppies when they’re calm. By reinforcing such desired behaviors with treats or affectionate pats, you communicate the behaviors you value.
Violence is Never the Answer
Physical punishment is a big no. If your puppy seems aggressive rather than playful, it’s vital to seek expert advice from a vet or dog trainer.
With consistent training and patience, your puppy can quickly learn that biting isn’t the best way to interact. Remember always to approach this with understanding, as play biting is a natural part of their growth.