First off I would like to congratulate you on the newest member of your family!
Dogs really are your best friend and the next 10-15 years will be filled with more selfless love than you could ever imagine.
But before we get to all the love and affection, you’re probably dealing with some not-so-cute and T-Rex like behavior. Your main goal is figuring out how to stop a puppy from biting you.
Having trained several large dog breeds (all my own dogs) without a trainer I have learned that behavior is not genetic. It is based on the training they get from their owners.
Currently, I have two pit bulls named Cali & Archie. Both are extremely well behaved dogs and both of them started out as teething terrors. (Archie is only 16 weeks old!)
They are so well behaved that I can actually put my entire fist in their mouth and they don’t bite down at all.
I believe if I can get an 8 week old puppy to stop biting me in a week, that my advice will work for you too.
Here are several different tactics to stop a puppy from biting you, along with some knowledge on why they do it, and how to channel their teething behavior elsewhere.
Why do Puppies Bite?
There are two main reasons that puppies bite.
The first one is not too different from human babies. They teethe! As their baby teeth come in, they can be painful and chewing on something soothes the growing pains.
The second reason is that puppies use their mouth to explore the new world around them. A part of this exploratory process is learning how hard they can bite when it comes to humans and other dogs.
Stopping Hands & Feet Biting
When your puppy bites you it will most likely be your hands or feet because those are the small parts of your body that move around quickly, so your puppy will think that they are small toys.
Your puppy is also learning about the world around him, including you.
The next time they sink their teeth in, yelp as if you are another dog in pain.
This might seem weird to you, but your puppy will usually stop and look at you. Reward this behavior with a treat.
Repeating this process over the first few weeks will ingrain into your puppy’s brain that hard bites are not ok.
I used this technique on my first pitbull Cali when she was a puppy, and most recently have used it on my 10 week old pitbull puppy Archie.
The second time around was much faster since I knew what I was doing, and only had to deal with a week of rough puppy bites!
Sometimes your puppy will get a burst of energy and it will seem like no matter how much you yelp or tell him to stop, he doesn’t seem to hear you. This would be a good time to just replace your skin with a nearby toy.
Don’t forget that puppies are teething and sometimes they just need to chomp down on something!
Don’t worry though. As they get older they will learn to channel these chewing urges towards toys. Just make sure that you always leave a few lying around so your dog doesn’t end up eating your couch instead!
If your dogs are big chewers like mine are, check out this list of awesome dog toys for aggressive chewers.
I’ve been slowly making my way down their list, but they were right when they meant that these toys last a long time. I haven’t had to replace any of them yet!
Cali’s favorite is definitely the Kong Goodie Bone because I can put peanut butter into the spaces for her to lick for hours. Archie’s favorite has to be the Mint barkbone.
Since we’ve gotten this toy Archie has stopped latching onto my husbands work jeans. Not only is it indestructible but it’s a great solution to his stank puppy breath!
Stopping Shoe & Pants Biting
If your puppy is biting your feet or playing tug a war with your pant leg or shoe laces, don’t reward the behavior by yelling at them to stop. They will see this as encouragement to keep playing.
Your puppy sees your legs as toys as you shuffle around the house. (even better if you have smelly feet) Simply give them one firm “no” and put your flat palm in their face so it temporarily takes their attention away from your legs.
Wait until they make eye contact with you and then give them a treat. Soon enough they will move on to new games.
Another way to desensitize your puppy from your feet is by playing with them with a toy near your feet.
While they are engaged with the toy, wiggle your feet around in the background. They will notice the movement but will be too involved with the toy to care.
Dog Socialization & Biting
When puppies play with older dogs, they will be corrected fairly quickly if they do anything that is not accepted in the adult dog world.
It is normal for dogs to nip and mouth at each other when playing.
If a puppy jumps on a dogs back or bites them too hard, the older dog may bark or snarl or even nip at the puppy to let them know that what they are doing isn’t ok.
Over time a puppy will learn how to play bite and know how to not hurt the other dogs at the park.
This learning experience is a key part of young puppyhood. Most puppies can start interacting with other dogs as early as 8-10 weeks.
If you do not have another dog in your house, try to bring your dog to a friends house, or if possible a puppy class.
Just make sure that your puppy has all of his shots before he interacts with new dogs!
Things to Avoid
It is always exciting to have a new puppy in the house. But there are a few behaviors that you should avoid if you are looking to deter puppy biting.
First, you should never wiggle your fingers or toes to get a puppy’s attention. This gives the message that they are toys to be played with.
Second, never stomp your feet, playfully push your dog or slap the sides of their mouth to encourage play.
This also makes them think your limbs are toys. Try to avoid pulling your hands and feet away if you see your puppy coming to bite. In a puppy’s brain, this is how tug of war starts.
Lastly, never hit your dog for biting you. This will break your dogs trust, discourage play, and tarnish your relationship with the newest member of the family.
With consistency from you and everyone in your household, your puppy should stop biting you within a few weeks. From my experience the younger you train them, the easier they will pick it up. But it’s never too late to start!
I hope these tactics work for you as they did for me. Do you know of any ways to get a puppy to stop biting? Let me know in the comments below!
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