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How to Train a Puppy not to Bite

If you have a puppy at home, you’re sure to have experienced a nip from their puppy teeth. Those razor-sharp puppy teeth can sometimes make you feel like you’ve welcomed a baby alligator or shark into your home instead of a cuddly puppy.

Although you may be ready for the four-legged, baby shark to be done with their biting stage, it’s important to understand that for a puppy, using their mouth—and teeth—is a quite natural behavior and how they commonly communicate and play.

While you may wish they would just “grow out of it,” there are a few steps you should take to curb your puppy’s biting and redirect the behavior to more appropriate targets, instead of your fingers.

How to get a puppy to stop biting

Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting  and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb.

Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include:

  1. Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable.
  2. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips.
  3. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog.
  4. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own.
  5. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play.
  6. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Use the following video by Petco trainers to gain more useful tips and tricks for training your dog to stop biting.

 

When do puppies stop teething?

If you suspect that teething is a big factor in your dog’s biting habit, fear not—teething will eventually end. By about six months, all of your pet’s puppy teeth should have fallen out, and all 42 adult teeth should have grown in.

While this may help some of their mouthy behaviors, teaching and reinforcing desired behaviors is key, as the end of teething doesn’t mean your pet will magically know not to continue play-biting.

Book Petco puppy training classes

Puppy parenthood can bring lots of training opportunities but also so many fun and rewarding moments. In conjunction with the right training resources, you’ll have all the help you need to make you and your puppy’s relationship the strongest it can be.