There's nothing more exciting than bringing a new puppy home. You get to introduce him or her to new surroundings, start the training process, and strengthen your bond. Best of all, you get to play and have fun.
While it's all good and entertaining in the beginning, that can all stop the moment your new pup bites a little too hard.
Because your new pooch is so young, they don't know what behaviors are right and wrong. It's all part of the learning process. Your job as an owner is to teach them what they should and shouldn't do.
If your dog starts to bite hard or aggressively, it's important that you take the steps to put a stop to it as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that biting doesn't become an issue later on in their life.
Why Do Puppies Bite?
Biting is a natural behavior for canines. It's how they explore the world, eat, and play. Young puppies often nip at each other as a way to have fun or show some dominance. Usually, the mother will do some things to establish boundaries and help a puppy learn when they bite too hard. When you bring your puppy home, you take on that responsibility.
Play Biting vs. Aggression
There's a distinct difference between play biting and biting out of aggression. The former usually occurs during happy moments. You may be wrestling your pup, playing fetch, or just giving them some loving belly rubs.
The only way they know how to effectively communicate is with their mouth, so they'll gnaw on your hand. It's innocent enough. However, those teeth will eventually start to hurt if you don't take action.
Aggressive bites are a lot different. They usually happen because you've startled the pup or simply made them angry. This often occurs around feeding time. Instead of a playful nip, an aggressive bite is much harder. It's also accompanied by some intimidating growling and a serious posture. This can lead to big problems as an adult.
If you don't establish some ground rules, you may raise a high-risk dog that's a danger to you and everyone around you.
Training Your Dog to Stop Biting
While most owners focus on house training first, biting is something that deserves your full attention the very moment it starts happening. It's better to tackle biting issues early when your dog is open to learning new things.
You need to be persistent and stick with your training techniques. Failure to do so may send some mixed messages and make the process more difficult.
One of the easiest ways to establish your boundaries is to use a verbal command. If your dog nips at your hands or bites you, simply say, "NO!" You need to say it clearly, loudly, and in a stern voice. Dogs are intelligent creatures. Your pup will pick up on the disapproving tone right away.
You should use this term every time a bite happens. It can also be extended to other training areas as well. It's important that you say the warning each and every time to ensure that they get the picture.
This method can be an effective addition to the verbal warning. However, you need to be very careful with it. It's not a technique that every trainer uses. It all depends on your dog.
If they have started biting aggressively, you may not want to attempt this method. An aggressive dog may attempt to bite you in retaliation.
When your dog attempts to bite on your hand, you can say the verbal warning and wrap a hand around their mouth. Do this very gently and don't squeeze. You shouldn't be cutting off air supply or causing their teeth to bite into their lips.
It's more of a gentle warning that lets them know that the action was not appropriate.
There are plenty of products out there that are great training aids. Chewing deterrents are sprays that have a very bitter and unappealing taste. You can spray them on furniture or even on your hand.
If your dog bites your hand with the product on it, they'll get a mouthful of awful flavor. This will create a connection and discourage them from doing it again.
Time outs are a great way to teach your dog that they've done something they shouldn't have. You can send your pup to a crate or to a gated-off area of your home when they bite you. This type of punishment is often used in a wide variety of training situations due to its effectiveness.
Another great way to stop biting is to introduce chew toys into the mix. You can give your dog a high-quality chew toy as a distraction.
However, you should never play with the toy alongside your pup. They're meant to be played with alone.
If you try to get your dog to do a tug-of-war, all the previous training you did will be soon forgotten. By playing with them, you're basically giving them carte blanche to bite as hard as possible near your hand.
What Not to Do
Even with all of the great previous training techniques, there are a few things that will disrupt their learning and send mixed signals. Training can take a long time. Some puppies pick things up faster than others.
With that being said, some actions may cause your dog to revert back to their old ways. Here are some things that you should never do during the training process.
Allow Soft Bites
While dogs do need to learn when they're biting too hard, this shouldn't be done on your hand. They should learn this in other ways, like with a chew toy. Allowing your dog to wrap their teeth around your hand will only cause confusion.
You're trying to get them to stop biting altogether. By inviting them to bite your hand, you're canceling out the commands and techniques you used earlier. This will prolong the training process and make it impossible for your dog to learn properly.
You should never strike your dog or cause physical pain as a form of punishment. No matter how frustrating the training process is or how painful their bites become, you need to keep your cool.
Causing your dog pain will result in problematic behavior. Not only will they not learn, but the relationship between you and your pup will suffer tremendously.
Furthermore, your pup may develop negative feelings about you. They'll take your disciplinary actions as a sign of aggression. Your pup may become defensive and retaliate against your actions by biting you even harder.
Stick with the previous training methods. If you need to, put your puppy in a long time out so that both of you can calm down.
Over to To You
Biting is something that you need to address as soon as possible. While playful bites may seem innocent enough in the beginning, they can quickly develop into serious issues. With proper training, you'll teach your dog right and wrong so that they can grow up to be a happy and well-behaved dog.