Puppies are irresistibly cute until they sink their needle-sharp baby teeth into your soft skin. Then, all of a sudden, they turn into a little monster that you can not get away from fast enough.
1 – Don’t Use Your Hands
We have all done it – the puppy is rolling around and we go right in with our hands to wrestle him, because he is just so cute – but this is exactly when those sharp little teeth strike. Rather consider using a toy to play with your puppy.
2 – Stop the Game
As soon as you feel that mouth on you (even if the teeth haven’t sunk in yet), stop playing. Leave your puppy and move away as quickly as you can. Your pup will learn that when he puts his mouth on you, the game stops and you leave. He will stop biting pretty quickly too.
3 – Use a Tie Down (with caution)
The ankle biting puppy will need this to learn to understand their unwanted behaviour. If you have a persistent puppy that follows you and bites your ankle as you try to walk, consider taking the time to play with your puppy on a tie-down (meaning the pup is tied to a leash, which is attached to something), so she can’t follow you. However, DO NOT leave the room when your dog is on the tie-down, for safety reasons. Just move out of their reach, wait for them to calm down, then go back to them and resume play.
4 – Stop and Go
Does your pup consider your every move an opportunity to chase and bite? The chase is what is activating this behavior, as soon as you feel your puppy on your feet stand still. Do not move until the mouth is removed. Then you can resume moving. He will learn that the only way to keep you moving (herding you) is to not bite. It can help to have them on a leash to move them away from you when you stop if necessary.
5 – Being Quiet rather than screaming when you get bitten
Many people believe that you should scream or “cry” like a littermate when your puppy bites you, thereby teaching the puppy they are hurting you. But do you know what also makes that kind of noise? PREY. Screaming will not always get your puppy to stop and for some prey-driven dogs, it may encourage them.
6 – Give Them a Toy
When they do put their mouth on you, immediately swap your body part for something they can chew on like a toy or a bone. This way, your puppy will learn what they can and cannot bite.
7 – Do not Wrestle
Your puppy has to learn that we are not another dog that they are wanting to play with. But when we act like one, we get treated like one. For really bitey puppies, it is best to not engage in teasing or rough play. It can be hard to resist, but doing so sends mixed signals to your puppy who is trying to figure out what the rules are.
8 – Time Out
Sometimes puppies get too excited. When your puppy becomes all teeth and won’t settle, even after you have stopped playing and/or walked away, it’s time for a break. Put them in their puppy pen or bed with an appropriate treat, like a bully stick, to chew on. This is not a punishment, it’s just giving your puppy some time to calm down a bit. Sometimes, bittiness can mean your puppy needs a nap or a break from people, not all biting is an indication of play.
Learning to communicate with your new puppy as soon as possible is very important for both of you. When you feel you do not have time to teach your puppy good behaviour, then you might also not be ready to become a puppy owner. It is for this reason that we highly recommend that you consider taking the time to teach your pup how to behave or also consider visiting your local dog training classes. The rewards of a well-mannered pet are worth every minute you put in to help you both understand each others’ needs.