Stop Puppy Biting: Training a Puppy Not to Bite

Begin training to stop puppy biting early in your puppy’s development to prevent many potential problems for you and your dog as he becomes an adult.  Biting is a natural behavior for puppies, so great care and consistency will need to go into training your puppy to stop biting.

Do Not Reward Puppy Biting

One of the reasons that it is sometimes difficult to stop puppy biting is because it is a normal play behavior that is inadvertently reinforced by dog owners. Puppies usually get attention when they snap or bite to engage in play. Even getting negative attention is better than being ignored from your puppy’s perspective. This is why it is often ineffective to hold the puppy’s muzzle and say the words “no bite”. This practice may cause the puppy to become aggressive as he resists this correction.

The best thing to do is to ignore your puppy and move away from him when he is biting at you. Avoid wrestling with your puppy and allowing him to bite and nip at your hands. Playing with your puppy in this way will make biting and mouthing behaviors very strong and almost impossible to get rid of later on when your dog is an adult.

Stop Puppy Biting

The best way to stop puppy biting is through consistent training. When your puppy’s teeth touch your skin (even if it was accidental); you may try letting out a loud “Ouch!” before moving away from him. Stop this practice immediately if your puppy seems to be encouraged by your shout of discomfort. The most important and consistent action to take when your puppy bites you is to stop interacting with him immediately. Get up and move away from him, keep your back turned to him and do not speak. Anyone who handles the puppy will need to shun the biting behavior when it occurs. If biting works some of the time the instance of the biting behavior may actually increase.

Teaching Alternatives to Biting

Teaching your puppy some acceptable ways to play and get attention is an important part of modifying his biting behavior. Getting your puppy enrolled in a group puppy class will help him learn bite inhibition from the other puppies in class. It will also teach you how to get him to perform very useful basic obedience commands such as “sit” and “leave it”. When your puppy wants to play, invite him to play with toys instead of your hands.

Teaching your puppy to play retrieve games and other activities that reinforce letting go of items that he has in his mouth will allow for safe play. These games will also teach him that it is a good thing to surrender items to you because he will get approval and rewards for doing so. While you are in the process of training your puppy, provide him with a variety of items that he may safely chew on. Compressed rawhides, rope knots and food dispensing interactive toys will help alleviate teething behaviors and his natural urge to explore the world with his mouth.