If you’ve ever been bitten, licked, or gnawed on by a puppy, you know that while it can be cute, it can also be painful. Puppy teeth are like little razor blades, and boy can they rip into your skin like nobody’s business! As with all bad habits, the earlier that you begin to break you puppy of his bad habits, the better. If you’ve never had a puppy, but are considering getting a puppy, I highly suggest you begin your puppy plan for success. Puppies love to play, chew on things and explore their surroundings. They don’t know how to tell the difference between playful chewing and painful chewing. As their owner, it’s up to you to train them on what is acceptable behavior is and what is not ok.
Enroll in our How to Train Your Puppy course to learn what to expect before you even bring your new puppy home. It will also show you how to train your puppy to do new tricks and what is appropriate behavior. Why try other methods that may not work and leave you feeling frustrated with your new playmate? Show them correctly the first time so that you can begin to enjoy your new best friend right away.
The first step in training your puppy not to bite, is understanding why they bite. Most people who have owned a dog before can tell you that sometimes you just forget that they’re dogs. They are animals that were born into a litter of other puppies. From the second they came out of the womb they’ve been crying and nibbling and pawing at their furry sisters and brothers. A few weeks after pups are born they begin to rough house as most human brothers and sisters do. They push each other around, paw at each other, and begin to bite one another. When we pick our puppy out and bring them to their new home, we are removing them from their original litter and introducing them to their new pack of family members. It will take the pups about a week to adjust to their new pack and as such they’ll need to learn how to play with their new non-furry family. At first they will try and play with you in the same way that they played with their old pack. They’ll chase after you, bark at you and of course, try and bite you. It’s not because they don’t like you and are trying to hurt you. It’s because they just don’t know any better and it’s your job to teach them.
There are several methods that you can use to break your puppy of this bad habit. The first is not my favorite, but I have heard that it has worked for some. Use a bit of force to show the dog that you’re the alpha. When your puppy bites at you, grab him (gently) and pull his coat. However, I think that there are better, gentler ways to train them. Never hut the puppy as that does not teach him to respect you, it teaches him to fear you and I think that it also damages the relationship between the pup and the owner. Instead of hurting them, try letting the puppy know that they have hurt you audibly. When they bite, let out a little scream. When they let go give them a pat or a gentle touch along with a verbal acknowledgement that they’ve done the correct behavior. You could also offer a treat, either a food reward or a new toy to play with. They’ll begin to associate good behavior with rewards. To learn more ways to train your pup, check out Dog Training Tricks Part 1.
Here are some a list of other ways to help you train your puppy not to bite.
Puppies are like children. They have a lot of energy and if they don’t get it out, they will act out. They need to be given an outlet by which to release this energy. If they don’t get to exercise or play they will begin to act out by biting, chewing, or digging. So, if you don’t want your new shoes, rose bushes, or tables chewed up take them for a walk. Our Polite Leash Walking course will show you the correct way to lead your dog and have a successful walk. Trust me, it’s never fun to try and walk your dog, but instead end up having your dog walk you.
If you’ve tried walking and audibly letting your dog know that the biting hurts and both of those methods haven’t worked for you, then maybe it’s time to try taste deterrents. These deterrents are usually odorless, colorless and of course non-toxic to humans, but if you could ask any dog, they’ll tell you that they sure don’t taste good. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just try it. You’ll see that when your dog approaches the area where you’ve sprayed the deterrent they lift their nose and go the other way. Try putting the deterrent on your hands and then putting your hands up to the dogs nose to see if this is a method that may work for you. If the dog doesn’t try and bite your hands, it’s a sign that it’s working. Continue to spray the deterrent on both your hands and clothes for a few weeks. Your dog will begin to associate these items with a bad smell and a not so pleasant taste.
Bringing a new puppy home isn’t just a big adjustment for you and your family. It’s also a big adjustment for the puppy. The first few weeks will definitely be an adjustment period for everyone. Roles will be established and hopefully a training regimen put into place to help make your puppies transition smoother for everyone. Teaching a puppy not to bite is no easy process and it will take some time. Try not to get upset with your pup if it seems to take them a little longer than you’d like to begin to change their behavior. With these exercises, commitment, and follow through their behavior will begin to change eventually.