Curbing the Biting

In case you haven’t noticed yet, puppies bite a lot! Biting during play is something that puppies do with their litter mates as they learn bite inhibition. As their parent you have to teach them that biting you, your clothes and your possessions is not appropriate. From day one it is imperative to not tolerate their teeth touching your skin.

When your pup puts their teeth on you or your clothes:

  1. relax your hand, making it limp
  2. slowly remove your hand from their mouth
  3. look away
  4. Wait a few seconds and then return your attention to them.

When your pup nips or bites you or your clothes

  1. relax your hand, making it limp
  2. slowly remove your hand from their mouth
  3. look away
  4. Wait a few seconds
  5. Ask them for a better behavior, such as a sit or nose tap
  6. When they complete this behavior return your attention to them
  7. If they cannot complete this behavior walk away and consider if they are overtired

When your pup creates damage to clothes or injury to you:

  1. Calmly remove yourself from the situation
  2. Walk away and if needed create a barrier between you and the pup so they cannot continue (having your pup in a playpen or blocked off space will help with this)
  3. Wait up to 5 seconds and then ask for a better behavior
  4. Once a better behavior is given, give them an appropriate item to chew
  5. Allow them a few minutes with the appropriate chew item before rejoining them

This process will help your pup to learn what is called Bite Inhibition. Bite Inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the pressure of their bite. It is extremely important to learn as a puppy. As a dog gets older their bite will naturally get harder as they gain more muscle through their mouth. A dog that does not learn this as a puppy is at risk for injuring someone as an adult. Therefore it is imperative to teach this to them.

It can be a very frustrating process to teach your pup not to bite you. They will try and do it again and again and again. Managing the environment to help them learn and to keep yourself safe will be very important. Below are some tips that can help you set your pup up for success while learning bite inhibition.

Provide your Pup with…

  • Adequate Sleep in Quiet Space
    • Let your pup sleep 16-20 hours a day(it may seem like a lot but they need it!)
    • Give them a warm and quiet space to sleep in
  • Adequate Exercise
    • Give your pup 5 minutes of solid physical exercise, two times a day for every month of age
    • Give you pup 15 minutes of training everyday
    • Give your pup time to play with toys and mentally stimulating puzzles when they are awake
  • Appropriate Chews
    • Give your pup appropriate things to chew (bones, toys, treats)
    • Keep toys away until play time and put back once they stop playing with it. This helps to keep toys engaging and more rewarding.
    • Rotate your toys. The frequency of rotationation depends on your dog’s interest and focus. Once they appear disinterested in a toy, put it away for a week, when it comes back out it will be like a whole new toy.
  • Appropriate Space
    • Give your pup a safe space to play that is large enough to walk around but not large enough to start running (the exception is outdoor spaces)
    • If your pup is nipping a lot, or nipping at your ankles, consider tethering them with a body harness and leash to a strong object in your home. This way you can easily walk away from them when they bite to reinforce that biting is not appropriate.
  • Appropriate Play
    • Give your pup time to play with other puppies to practice bite inhibition with other dogs (puppy kindergarten class is the best and safest place to do this)
    • Keep play with your dog mellow, until you start training, so they don’t become over excited and bite harder
    • Avoid running past the puppy, until you start training them to stay calm while you run
    • Teach children to pet the dog along their body (not head or tail) for a maximum of 3 seconds. Generally hugs should be avoided until body handling training has taken effect

Teach children to use calm, inside voices around the puppy