One of the most common issues we see poor dog training advice given for is puppy biting and mouthiness, so we're going to give you the most standardized professional advice possible for this issue.
There's a reason why it's discouraged for non-professionals to give legal or medical advice to strangers on the Internet.
At best, their advice could be wrong; at worst, it could it be potentially dangerous.
We so wish the same rules applied to dog training advice.
Puppies go through at least two fear periods in their first year of life, so when those sensitive puppy brains are involved, it's especially important to follow professional instruction!
The good news: in the vast majority of cases, puppy biting and mouthing is EXTREMELY normal, for several reasons:
- Puppies explore the world with their mouths.
- They go through an uncomfortable teething process that lasts for 2-3 months.
- They play hard with their siblings, often using their teeth to (successfully) instigate play and attention.
- Herding breed dogs are predisposed to nip, herd, and chase small, fast-moving things. Young children often get the brunt of this behavior.
- Retrievers are predisposed to picking up and holding anything and everything within reach, including your hands and arms.
A word on what to avoid:
- Above all else, avoid physical punishmentwhen it comes to puppy biting.
- I have heard people given terrible (albeit, well-meaning) advice over the years, from squeezing your puppy's mouth shut, to pinning them on their backs, to muzzling them to stop the biting.
- Your puppy is *NOT* being "dominant", and you do not need to physically punish him to curb this behavior.
- Physical punishments like this range from silly and ineffective to cruel and downright abusive. In fact, you can create fear and aggression in your dog using these types of methods.
So, what should you do about puppy biting?
When you bring a puppy into your home, it's your job to create fair, consistent boundaries for unwanted behaviors, including when it comes to teeth on skin.
- If your puppy bites you, you need to ignore the behavior and remove *yourself* from the interaction, with no drama.
- Note: You are not putting your puppy in a time out. That involves way too much time, talking, and attention to be an effective punishment. You are either ignoring the behavior or removing yourself from it.
- That means play is over, fun is over, attention is over. Be as non-dramatic as possible.
- If the behavior is hard for you to ignore, go behind a door or baby gate where your puppy does not have access to continue nipping at you.
- If your puppy tries to nip at you when you return, remove yourself again.
- You should see a major decrease in the intensity of biting as well as the amount of biting attempts within a few days.
An Important Caveat:
Some puppies find the act of a person walking away reinforcing. If your puppy seems to enjoy you removing yourself as a game of chase, you can alternatively use the side of your leg (not your knee, please!) as a "wall," blocking your puppy's advances and non-dramatically removing them from biting you without involving your hands.
You may have to block them multiple times before they stop trying; don't give up! And most importantly, still avoid yelling or using your hands – bitey puppies tend to find both of these things very exciting.
Remember, it's normal for young puppies to explore the world with their mouths.
Things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to give your pup attention and praise when they are behaving nicely!
- All family members and guests MUST be consistent in order for this to work!
- Be aware that even doing everything right, this behavior may not go away entirely until 5-6 months of age. Remember, this is a normal developmental period in puppies.
- For extra-bitey puppies, or those that are biting after 5-6 months of age, this blog will help give you some additional tips and recommendations.
Why Does This Work?
- A behavior that doesn't get reinforced will stop.
- Your pup will learn that we don't react to biting with play, attention, or even a negative reaction. All of these things can be fun for a puppy.
- Your pup will learn to self-entertain. Once they realize the nipping isn't working, they will eventually redirect themselves onto something else.
- Your puppy will seek out appropriate ways to get your attention, like offering a "sit" or laying at your feet.
A few other suggestions:
- It's also important to have a management place for your puppy, such as a play pen or baby-gated bathroom. It gives you a break from your puppy, and is a calm place for your puppy to settle down if he gets too wound up.
- Make sure your puppy has plenty of rubbery teething toys, is getting daily exercise, and is not excessively crated. If his needs are not being met, the nipping will take longer to extinguish.
- Make sure your puppy is eating three meals a day.
- Things we may think are punishing, like pushing your puppy away, yelling at him, etc, can be considered fun, play-like behaviors for your puppy and can encourage biting. When doing the above exercise, be as quiet and calm as you can.
When should you be concerned about biting in puppies?
You should seek out a certified professional if your puppy:
- Is growling, snapping, or biting when a person comes near a resource. (Food, toys, etc)
- Stiffens and stares at the person before biting.
- Is consistently biting and breaking skin.
- Barks, growls, or nips (not in play) at new people entering the home.
- Snaps or growls at children.
What if it's not getting better?
- Remember, we do not expect this behavior to go away entirely until at least 5-6 months of age.
- We also need to take into consideration a dog's breed, social history, and any medical conditions that could be contributing. For example, if a puppy has an intestinal parasite that's depleting their nutritional stores, we often see an uptick in biting.
- For extra guidance with extremely bitey puppies, or those that are still regularly biting after 6 months of age, check out these additional tips.
Need professional guidance on your puppy biting issues? We offer private and group online dog training that's accessible from anywhere in the world. More details here, or contact us.
TAGS: Puppy Training Alpharetta, Puppy Training Atlanta, Puppy Training Brookhaven, Puppy Training Chamblee, Puppy Training Dunwoody, Puppy Training Johns Creek, Puppy Training Milton, Puppy Training Roswell, Puppy Training Sandy Springs
Peachy Puppy 101: July 2022 (Peachtree Corners)
Sunday, July 10, 2022 - Sunday, August 21, 2022
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Spalding Animal Hospital, Peachtree Corners
Family Dog 101 – July 2022 (Peachtree Corners)
Sunday, July 10, 2022 - Sunday, August 21, 2022
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Spalding Animal Hospital, Peachtree Corners
We do the in-house training and it has been and wonderful experience so far. They have amazing training techniques, all are working very well. We had a puppy who could not go potty outside and now she is, and is learning new commands every training visit.
Amelia Cosmas is our trainer and she is superb, she makes you feel very comfortable and has lots of great information not just with training but with other things like socializing, enrichment and day to day puppy and dog care. We would recommend Peach on a Leash to anyone looking for a positive training expierience that helps you bond with your new puppy or dog and also most important wonderful trainers that you look forward to seeing and working with.
Our Puppy Mazey is a 9 month old Mini Golden Doodle and she just did an 8 night board and train with Trainer Jackie. We could not be more impressed.
Jackie was kind and patient and sent us updates and videos of Mazey’s progress daily. When we picked Mazey up she did a demonstration of all Mazey had learned and we were blown away! She gave us a printout plan and checklist of how we can continue working with Mazey at home. Highly recommend this amazing company!
We cannot say enough great things about Peach on A Leash! We adopted our golden doodle at 9 months old and quickly discovered a few concerning behaviors. We were recommended Peach on A Leash and set up and in-home training session with Hallie the next week. She immediately put us to ease with her knowledge and training. We went though 5 weeks of training sessions, but what we received was so much more than that!
Hallie was always available by call or text and taught us all of the correct training techniques to address our dog's unique needs. We have loved being part of this community and have a happy, loving pup now because of it!
I would highly recommend Peach on a Leash and Jackie Audette! I felt so comfortable having my Springer Spaniel at Jackie's house, and she kept me very involved with updates and progress reports.
Usually an in home training program would make me uneasy, but the process from start to finish was very comfortable and Jackie was reassuring to me as a
somewhat helicopter dog mom. As for the training, my dog came back with impeccable manners and her demeanor was very respectful.
“Alex is absolutely AMAZING! She is an erudite trainer, dedicated, caring and implements positive behavioral techniques that our sweet Fisher responds to almost immediately. She communicates clearly and efficiently during our sessions and follows up with a written recap and plan of action. Would recommend her in a heartbeat!”
I cannot say enough about our experience with Julia. Our dog shows more obedience and trust with me after our five sessions with her. She is knowledgeable, confident and fun! I feel better equipped to be the best doggie mom I can be because of her. A million thanks!
Get Our Free Guide!
6 Easy Steps to Get Your Dog to Come When Called the First Time, Every Time
Get It Now