During the puppy stage, puppies like to poke their teeth into just about anything. Although this mild biting and nipping starts off as fun, it can become a major problem down the road. After all, your puppy won’t be little forever, and the bites will become more painful and possibly aggressive as time passes. Fortunately, puppies can be trained to control their biting so that it doesn’t become an issue down the road, while still being able to carry out their teething phase.
Just like house training a dog, there are several different methods for training a dog not to bite. Some trainers recommend teaching your dog how to limit his biting power, while others encourage you to act out in pain every time you are bitten. Redirecting the puppy to a chew toy or bone is also effective, as you’re still allowing your puppy to let out his natural responses to teething while not subjecting your own flesh. Other experts have recommended shaking an aluminum can filled with coins or spraying the dog with a water bottle, although these methods are less used and less effective.
No matter which method you choose, make sure it fits with your beliefs and is a process you will follow through with. This means that when your puppy starts getting excited while playing, you continually show her that biting is not acceptable. For these reasons, it’s recommended that you don’t play tug of war, wrestling or chase games during this training period.
Following the training method of your choice, make sure that you follow through with each bite and ensure that your puppy knows that this biting is not okay with you. Some puppies bite because they want to show their dominance, so make sure that you are showing that you are the leader and not the other way around. Remember that in the first few days and months, your puppy will view you as a littermate, so it’s okay to show him otherwise. If you choose to cry out in pain every time your puppy bites for example, you should say “ouch” and walk away. Your puppy will see that every time he nips, his littermate goes away.
As you learn more about positive reinforcement, make sure that you apply it to puppy biting as well. Praise your puppy for having a gentle, soft mouth and playing nicely, while walking away with little emotion if she does bite. As long as you start teaching your pet from the very beginning that biting and nipping is unacceptable, the problem should not persist. Also keep in mind that biting and nipping naturally slows down as your puppy exits the teething stage.