Puppies are adorable little creatures to have at your home. However, one common problem that parents face is the biting stages of puppies. Biting or mouthing happens once puppies reach around 3 to 4 months of age and continue until they reach adulthood.
During these stages, puppies may bite unnecessary items at your home like furniture, wires, cables, clothes, etc. There are several ways of controlling this phase of puppies. Continue reading to learn more about it.
Why do puppies bite?
Puppies may bite for several reasons. Sometimes, they do so to let you know they’re in ‘play’ mode or it could be teething. Biting is a natural way for them to explore their world and play.
If you’ve ever noticed two puppies playing with each other, you may observe that they bite and growl at each other. During play, puppies learn the intensity at which biting is considered safe and play. The moment any of the puppies bite too hard, the other cries out.
This is an important part of training puppies on how to play and be gentle at the same time.
What is teething?
Teething in puppies is when their baby teeth fall out and adult teeth come in, causing discomfort. They chew or bite on things to relieve it. The teething phase lasts for 3-4 months and it can get frustrating for puppies during this time. Give them safe toys and be patient.
Do puppies get aggressive when they bite?
Puppies usually do not get aggressive when they bite. Biting is a normal play behavior. Aggressive biting is just the regular nipping that gets a little too over the top. As a matter of fact, sometimes they bite to get your attention.
For example, they may bite and pull on your clothes. As you pull back, they may growl and play tug with your clothes. Another common behavior is nipping on your feet while you walk.
All this is because before they came to your home, they were probably wrestling with their littermates all day long.
What are the Stages of Puppy Biting: Training Steps
The following represents the different biting stages for puppies and how you can respond to them:
Stage 1: Protecting and Supervising Play
You may be able to handle puppy biting as an adult but if you have kids or toddlers at your place, they may not. Encouraging aggressive puppy play can result in your puppy’s biting problems getting worse.
You can start by separating kids from your puppies once they start to play aggressively. Also, supervise guests who play with your puppy. Do not allow rough playing where your puppy ends up growling too much.
Stage 2: Control the attention
While you’re playing with your puppy, break the attention immediately when the biting gets too hard or the play gets rough. Puppies love attention. When they realise some kind of behavior is preventing the attention, they understand not to repeat it.
This is a slow process, but practicing it everyday will teach your puppy to differentiate good behavior from bad.
Stage 3: Use treats to train
Let your puppy play with you and while you withdraw the attention when the biting gets rough, start introducing treats when the puppy stays calm.
This can be done in three simple steps:
- Move your hand closer to the puppy.
- If the puppy doesn't try to bite your hand, say "YES!" and put a treat on the floor.
- Repeat, moving your hand closer each time, and reward if the puppy doesn't bite.
Gradually work on training so that you can touch the puppy anywhere on its head or body or handle its paws. Do these actions without the puppy trying to bite or mouth at you.
Stage 4: Encourage safe play
As puppies get older, they might start biting again, especially between six and nine months of age. During play, they can become very energetic and use their teeth. It's essential to handle this behavior because, at this age, they're quite big and can unintentionally hurt you.
The steps mentioned above that train your puppy to play safely should be practiced regularly so it becomes a habit for the puppy. Provide them with treats when they’re practicing safe play so that learn it’s good for them.
Tip: Refer to puppy feeding guide to know what kind of treats are good for puppies.
To take further precautions, avoid letting overly playful puppies engage in rough games with small children. Even if they do, ensure you’re supervising them. This can lead to unpleasant situations.
When does puppy biting stop?
Puppy biting stops around when they reach about 10 to 12 months of age when all their adult teeth have grown. It can stop early too if the appropriate measures or practices are being adopted by the pet parent.
Biting is at its peak during three to five months. At this age, puppies should be provided with enough toys or rawhide sticks or other things to bite on. If they have enough options and are positively reinforced not to bite on human skin, the biting problem subsides early on.
8 Tips on how to stop your puppy from biting
Give them toys
Give your puppy safe and appropriate chew toys to redirect their biting behavior. This helps satisfy their need to chew and keeps them away from your hands and belongings.
Provide chewing sticks
Offer your puppy a variety of safe and durable chew sticks. This gives them an appropriate outlet for their chewing instincts. Make sure these toys are designed for puppies to avoid any potential hazards.
Avoid yelling or punishment
It's crucial not to yell at or punish your puppy for biting or mouthing. Yelling can scare your puppy and damage the bond of trust between you. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and redirection techniques to encourage good behavior.
Expose your puppy to various people, animals, and situations to help them learn appropriate behavior. Puppy socialization can reduce anxiety and fear-related biting.
Set Up Playdates
Arrange playdates with other puppies or well-behaved dogs. This allows your puppy to learn bite inhibition (how to control the force of their bite) through play with other dogs.
Increase outdoor exercise
Plan daily outdoor walks with leash training and play sessions to provide mental stimulation and physical activity. A tired puppy is generally less likely to engage in unwanted biting and mouthing.
If your puppy continues to bite despite redirection and training, you can use timeouts. When they bite, say "ouch" in a high-pitched voice and immediately stop interacting with them for a brief period. This teaches them that biting leads to a loss of attention.
Practice consistent training
Be consistent with your training. Everyone in your household should follow the same rules for handling and training your puppy.
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