You've just arrived home with your new puppy, congratulations! But, now you have your new four-legged family member home with you the real fun starts. You'll soon start to notice that your new pup is constantly biting and chewing, plus it will only be a matter of time until you have to deal with the challenges of teething?
Raising a new puppy will be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have, but it definitely has its challenges and biting and teething will be a big one.
Your puppy nibbling and chewing is cute when you first bring them home, but that all changes when you soon realize that they won't stop. This aggressive, hard, and relentless biting from such a young puppy is not quite what you signed up for when you imagined owning a cute pup.
Before you run out the door to return your new bundle of fluff, take a few minutes to read through this article we've written. If teething and biting are driving you mad, we have some simple tricks you can use to stop your puppy biting and a few proven solutions to help with the teething too.
These are tried and trusted techniques and are based on recommendations from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and because they’re so effective many dog trainers worldwide now adopt these same principles when dealing with aggressive, biting and teething puppies.
Why Do Puppies Bite?
In the same way a toddler feels there way around your home using their hands, a small puppy tries to understand the world around them by using their mouth. Don't worry, this is completely normal behavior, and it’s pretty common for young puppies under 3 months old.
Why puppies bite is still a slight mystery. It’s long been believed that biting and teething go hand in hand, as your pup starts to teeth, they instinctively look for things to chew. However, more recently the biting behavior in puppies is seen by many trainers as a form of social play or exploration. The play biting isn't intended to do any harm, it’s just your dog's way of showing his dominance in his new world.
It is very easy to mix up teething and biting as being one of the same, however, if your dog is teething they will almost always chew or gnaw on anything they can put in their mouth. Biting, on the other hand, is normally more playful that’s easy to identify once you've had your dog for some time.
Both biting and teething are normal behavior in young puppies and your attempts at stopping them will most likely be in vain unless they’re given something to distract from your hand or foot (more on this further down the page).
What Are the Symptoms of Puppy Teething?
Teething signs in a puppy are easy to spot, they're chewing on anything they can put in their mouths. Also, you might notice your dog drooling from the side of his mouth or you might even find tiny spots of blood on his dog toys, both of these signs are good indications that your puppy has started teething.
Your puppy losing teeth should not be of any concern, again this is all part of teething and it's completely normal to see the odd baby tooth on the floor. In fact, that's the reason why they are teething in the first place.
The chewing and gnawing on almost anything they can find helps to relieve the pain your dog is feeling from the adult teeth that are growing and pushing the baby teeth out. Puppies start to get their baby teeth at a much younger age than human babies and teeth start to show in pups as young as two weeks old.
As you can imagine, during this period your puppy is undoubtedly uncomfortable and the pain and loss of teeth can also confuse your pup. Even though you would love to take his pain away, there's nothing really you can do apart from letting nature take its course and providing your pup with enough chew toys for him to gnaw on.
So in a nutshell, teething will come down to a bit of grumpiness, excessive chewing and the odd lost tooth or blood on the floor which should all be finished by the time your puppy reaches 6 months old.
However, during the teething months if you notice that your puppy has an excessive amount of swelling in the mouth or is showing any other serious changes in his behavior make sure you book an appointment with your veterinarian so they can make sure all is progressing along as it should and can they rule out any other potential complications.
What Age Do Puppies Stop Biting and Teething?
A biting puppy is commonplace especially up to 8 weeks old. Biting is natural for a puppy and they will nip their siblings while playing. In their natural environment pups quickly learn if they are biting too hard when the other dog makes a loud yelp.
Thankfully, a biting puppy is a habit you can correct with a few simple techniques and you can start to train your puppy to stop biting as early as 6 weeks old. It will take some perseverance but once your puppy realizes that biting is bad he will soon snap out of this aggressive behavior.
One of the simplest ways to show your puppy he's biting too hard is too let out a high-pitched yelp sound just like another dog would do if he was being bitten. Your puppy will soon start to realize that he's hurting you and you can give him verbal praise and a dog treat every time he stops and backs off.
Unlike a biting puppy which you can correct with a bit of patience, teething cannot be stopped - After all, it's a natural process and you're best to let nature do its thing. The good news is that when your puppy reaches around 6 months old, the teething should have subsided and all of his puppy teeth should have fallen out, and the adult teeth should have grown.
Best Way To Stop Puppies From Biting
If your puppy is biting due to being playful swapping out your hand for a toy and get him tugging on that instead of on your fingers is the easiest way to change this habit. Once your pup realizes that it’s much more fun playing with a toy than your hand and fingers he’ll instinctively pick up to toy every time - but you have to make it fun.
To help with a biting puppy, we also recommend that you use a combination of dog toys and an event marker such as a “clicker” that tells your puppy you liked what he did.
The clicker is a great item to have in your puppy toolkit and is really useful for acknowledging good behavior - and you can pick up a pair for just a few dollars.
You can use the clicker and use a simple word such as “yes” to reinforce your puppy's good attitude. He gets a dog treat immediately after the clicker sound, and no treat if he doesn’t hear it.
Once your puppy has got used to the sounds of a clicker or another event marker you have chosen to use you can then move onto puppy bite inhibition training.
EcoCity Dog Training Clicker with Wrist Strap (4 Pack)
Bite Inhibition Training
A better solution to telling your puppy “no bite” is to teach your puppy to bite gently rather than aggressively, you can do this by using bite inhibition training. Bite inhibition will train your dog for a “soft mouth” and it will teach your pup to use their mouth gently with people rather than biting hard which can be a real problem when they become adult dogs.
Bite inhibition training can be broken down into four stages. The first two stages are aimed at reducing the force of your puppy biting. The last two stages look at trying to decrease the frequency of the bites and allowing human contact on cue.
The four-stage bite inhibition training has to be done it that order. For example, If you start to decrease the frequency of bites first your puppy won't learn to soften the bite.
Bite inhibition training is set up in a way that helps to shape your puppy's natural playful behavior and ideally it should be started as soon as you interact with your new puppy - earlier the better.
Stopping The Hard Painful Bites
90% of young puppies will stop biting when you make a loud sound that mimics another dog being hurt. This is how your pup learns in their natural environment that they're biting too hard.
Don't be afraid to tell your puppy he’s hurting you by letting out a high-pitched squeal or yelp. As soon as they let go and back off reward him with a dog treat.
If your puppy refuses to stop biting end your playtime, get up and walk away making sure not to give your dog any attention or eye contact. Once your pup has calmed down try play time again.
Remember - Puppy biting is a natural dog behavior, it's a puppy being a puppy, so never punish them for their natural curiosity.
Reduce The Pressure Of The Bite
Once you have stopped the painful biting from your puppy you need to focus on reducing the pressure of the bite. - you want to teach your puppy to use his gums rather than his teeth.
Reducing the pressure of the bite has to be done gradually and you need to set a precedence of just how hard they can bite. Using the same “squeal” or “yelp” technique as above you slowly set your puppy’s biting limit softer and softer until the pressure is barely noticeable.
Make sure you progress at a pace that allows your pup to be successful most of the time. A big jump from hard to soft biting will be confusing and frustrating to the pup.
Stop Means Stop
The third stage of puppy bite inhibition training is where you teach your pup that stop really does mean stop. Teach them to “drop it”, “take it” and to “leave it”. Keep in mind you are in control and you should be able to stop and start this exercise on your own terms.
Don't Touch With Your Teeth Unless You're Invited
The final stage of teaching your puppy to stop biting is basically a follow on from the third step. In this stage, you need to teach your puppy not to touch a human unless they're invited to do so.
Combining all that you have been teaching your puppy into one final session. Your pup should follow everything on your cue - remember you're the one in control make sure your puppy knows that.
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