How to Get a Puppy to Stop Biting? Everything You Need To Know

One of the most challenging things about raising a puppy is dealing with biting for some pet owners. It is pretty standard for your puppy to nip and chew on anything they see, but the bad news is that their needle-sharp puppy teeth can hurt. No pet owner will want their puppy’s biting turning into a lifelong habit. But, with consistent training, you can nip your puppy’s biting in the bud.

Puppy mouths can get them in trouble beyond just biting at you or other people. Pups live as if nothing is off-limits and want to put everything in their mouths. So besides working on nipping behavior as outlined below, make sure you start with puppy-proofing your home to help keep them out of trouble.

What Tools are Required to Get a Puppy to Stop Biting?

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Best Ways to Get a Puppy to Stop Biting

Inhibit Your Dog From Biting

The first step for getting your puppy to stop biting is to inhibit the behavior. For example, it is usual for puppies to mouth each other while playing. This mouthing, however, can turn quickly into a bite. When it does, the puppy on the other end will growl, and this sound frightens the puppy doing the biting, thus making him release.

Pet owners can control this behavior and teach your pup how much mouthing is acceptable. For example, when a puppy latches onto your finger or hand too hard, let your hand go limp and imitate that yelping sound. Then, ignore him for 10-20 seconds and resume play when he releases. Remember not to pull away from the bite, triggering your puppy’s chase instinct and worsening the problem. If the yelp does not work or you prefer not to make that sound, you can substitute a loud “Ow!” or use other verbal deterrents.

Do not repeat the yelp process more than three times in 15 minutes. It is time for a puppy timeout if you come to this point. The goal is to teach the puppy that gentle play continues and rough game stops. Once you have inhibited the hard bites, repeat this teaching process with more moderate edges. Eventually, it would help if you taught him that mouthing without biting down is OK, but anything more than that is not.

Redirect his Behavior

If you would like to teach your puppy to stop biting, you will most likely want to use the redirection method. Each time your puppy tries to mouth you, pull your hand away and promptly provide a treat or provide a chewy toy for him to bite on instead. You can also satisfy your pup’s urge to mouth things with noncontact games like fetch or tug-of-war. However, keep in mind to never let the tugging become overly aggressive. 

When your dog bites, give them a toy instead. Do whatever you have to do to make that toy more exciting than biting you. If your pup doesn’t take the toy, ignore them. And by ignoring them, choose stuff that doesn’t stand still as puppies love to chase things that move, including your pant legs.

Exercise Your Dog

Yes, exercising your dog can be one of the best ways to stop puppy biting. In addition, exercising a puppy is one of the best ways to help ease problem behaviors (like biting). So often, puppies act out when they haven’t had enough physical and mental stimulation. But, again, how much exercise your puppy needs depends on its breed and age.

A general rule of thumb is that a puppy can have 5 minutes of exercise, twice a day. So, a 4-month-old puppy can exercise for 20 minutes twice a day. You can also try a game of fetch, tug, or other play to rid your pup of their energy. The more power your puppy uses, the better!

Exercise can also take the form of jogging, so be careful not to overrun your pup. Excessive exercise can cause joint problems in the long run.

Training Can Help

Puppies often bite when they are bored or want to play. This is the ideal time to engage them mentally with a quick training session!

Training sessions prevent your dog from biting, but it allows you to reward them for positive behavior. When your pup starts biting, grab some high-value treats and get to training. Typically you will want to work on familiar behavior. For example, get them to sit or lay down and then do a 5-10 second “stay.”

This 5-10 second “stay” can help your pup calm down, and then you have got the chance to create a positive experience with rewards and treats. After that, you’ll have to carry on with more skills and tricks in many situations and possibly train for a good 10-15 minutes.

A great way to keep practicing during these impromptu training sessions is to ‘leave it.’

Teach Your Dog ‘Leave it’

Teaching your dog ‘leave it’ is an effective process to stop your dog from biting anything. In its simplest form, the leave-it behavior is all about restraint. Here is a detailed article about ‘How to Teach a Dog to Leave it.’

Discourage Herding Instincts

Some dog breeds, such as Shetland Sheepdogs or Collies, have strong herding instincts, leading them to nip at ankles to keep the “herd” moving. If your puppy does this, try to stand still, so they understand that nipping ankles will have the opposite effect than they intend.

Use a Taste Deterrent

Before you start playing with your pup, spray a taste deterrent on your body and garments that your dog enjoys playing rough with. When your puppy bites you, stop moving and wait for him to react to the taste deterrent. Praise your pup when he stops to bite, and you can continue playing. Next, ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to get the material off your hands. Taste deterrents include: “Vicks Vapor Rub,” “Bitter Apple,” or white vinegar. You can use these on your hands to make them taste unpleasant. Use those products that are tested as safe for dogs/animals.

Try Puppy Socialization Classes

Socializing is another way to stop your puppy from biting everything. Puppy socialization classes are also a valuable and crucial part of your puppy’s education. In a puppy socialization class, they interact with puppies of different breeds, sizes, and sexes. These classes also provide a controlled environment where they can learn from interactions with other puppies what is appropriate play behavior and what is not acceptable.

Pro Tips

  • You can give your pet chew toys that avoid inappropriate nipping and biting.
  • Do not wave your hands or toes next to your puppy’s face. Also, avoid patting the sides of his face to lure him into play. Such activities encourage your pet to bite your hands and feet. 
  • Provide your pup with clicker training sessions to enable good behavior in him. Patience and consistency is the key to stopping your puppy from biting.

Final Thoughts

Puppy training needs a lot of patience and dedication. Your puppy may not learn the lessons you are trying to teach right away, but it is best to remain calm and focused. Shouting or scolding your puppy may frighten them or cause unnecessary stress, leading to the exact behavior you are trying to prevent.

If you think your pup is struggling to learn not to bite, consider seeking the help of a professional trainer. Dogs that bite are a threat to you and others, and at the end of the day, you must ensure your dog is safe to be around. You can help your puppy stop biting before it becomes an issue with patience and consistency in your training.

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