Puppies are undoubtedly adorable. Their little paws, wide eyes, and cute ears are enough to make you want more than one. Something that’s not so adorable about puppies? Their teething phase.
As puppies teethe, they want to bite everything and anything they can – including your fingers! It may be cute at first, but it can lead to undesirable behaviors as an adult. Plus, those puppy teeth are sharp! Here is a guide to help stop your puppy from biting you.
Prohibit the Biting
During normal puppy play, they mouth each other. When the mouthing turns to the biting, the receiving puppy will yelp, startling the biter and causing them to release. Humans can use this behavior to help their teething puppy learn how much is too much. When a puppy begins biting your finger, let your hand go limp and let out a yelp (or loud “Ow”) sound. Then, ignore them for about 10-20 seconds and then resume play.
Don’t pull away from a bite, though. Pulling away will trigger your puppy’s instinct to chase and make the issue worse. Also, don’t repeat the process more than three times in fifteen minutes. If it gets to that point, it’s time for a puppy time out!
The goal with prohibiting is to teach the puppy that rough play is not okay. Once the hard bites are stopped, work on more moderate bites until they learn to mouth without biting at all.
In order to completely stop your puppy from biting, you will need to use redirection. To do this, when a puppy goes to bite you, move your hand away and place a treat or wave a toy in front of them until they bite it.
Non-contact games, like tug-of-war and fetch, can also help with their urge to bite. The key is to not let the games get too aggressive or teach them “leave it” so you can remove something from their mouth without worrying about aggression.
Puppies don’t exclusively bite your fingers – they’ll bite anything they can get their mouths on! Make sure you provide an array or safe and interesting chew toys (in addition to puppy proofing your home) so they stay occupied. Toys with hidden treat options are also great for keeping your puppy occupied!
Also, setup playtime with other puppies and vaccinated dogs to help them socialize. They can teach them what is acceptable in terms of playing and biting and provide them with socialization skills.
Some products can be used to deter your puppy from biting off-limit things. Products like No Chew Spray or Bitter Apple leaves an unpleasant taste in their mouth when they lick it. But, it’s not as easy as just spraying an object and hoping for the best.
First, they need to associate the taste and smell with no chewing. To do this, spray a small amount on a cotton ball or tissue and put it in their mouth. They’ll most likely spit it out immediately where you can then let them smell it so it makes the association.
Then, spray it on the item. Though it may sound mean, don’t let your dog have access to water for up to an hour to ensure the deterrence method works. Spray the product on the item you don’t want them to chew or lick once a day for two to four weeks. You can even use it on your hands to help your puppy associate the taste with chewing your fingers.
With enough time and patience, your puppy will learn your fingers are off limits in no time. Using a combination of these three methods will help effectively teach your tiny teething friend what is acceptable to bite and what isn’t!
Most of my day is spent playing with dogs. When they nap, I’m here working on my blog. You’re welcome to reach out and connect with me.