Puppies are by nature little “landsharks”. They usually arrive to our homes after weeks or months of biting their littermates, it’s a natural behaviour for them.
There are a few different reasons for puppy biting.
A puppy knows from its littermates that biting while playing is generally acceptable. We must teach the puppy how to play with humans. While teaching a puppy that humans are not toys it’s important that no human roughhouses with the puppy. Roughhousing would be games where humans use their hands as a toy to play with a puppy. This can make it very confusing if not impossible for a puppy to distinguish when it’s ok to bite a human and when it isn’t.
How to, play biting…
Manage your space and always have a toy nearby.
When your puppy bites you, say an attention sound (for example kissy noise) to interrupt the biting.
The second your puppy stops biting, give it a toy.
If necessary, calmly play with your dog using the toy.
If your puppy accidently bites you during play with the toy, calmly leave the room right away, without saying anything. After 5-10 seconds walk back into the room.
If you want to take the toy away from the puppy, exchange with them. Give the puppy a treat, something rewarding, so it lets go of the toy and pick it up while the puppy eats the treat. In this way the puppy will be more willing to give toys to you.
Puppies use their mouth to explore with. They learn a lot about the objects surrounding them trough biting. They gather information about other puppies, humans and inanimate objects. You might find one day that your puppy has chewed up your shoes, window frame, remote control, their beds etc. A puppy may continue chewing the same things if the exploring was rewarding.
How to, explore biting…
Manage your space and prevent bad habits from developing. Puppy proof your home while your puppy is learning. Remove household items from puppy height and provide plenty of toys.
If your puppy is biting something inappropriate around the house, make an attention sound to interrupt the biting. The second the biting stops, give the puppy a toy to chew on instead.
Make sure to provide mental stimulation in order to prevent boredom. A bored puppy is more likely to chew on random things to entertain themselves with.
A puppy usually bites the most during teething to soothe their gums. Make sure to have some frozen toys or snacks ready for this phase. Frozen toys or treats can help a puppy with sore gums. Things to freeze are carrots, apples, stuffed Kongs, soft rubber teething rings, wet rope toy. The pet shops are also full of good toys for teething pups.
How to, teething biting…
Follow the same steps for play biting, except offer puppy something frozen to chew on. It could be a frozen chew toy or a frozen snack like an apple, carrot or anything else your puppy likes. If your puppy has been introduced to a stuffed Kong already then you can also pop the Kong in the freezer.
Puppies can also bite to express a need. For example, a need to go toilet, a need for more food, a need to burn off excess energy, a need for a health check etc.
Sometimes puppies bite because they have gotten too much input and are overstimulated. Look for the situations where overstimulation occurs and limit or avoid it.
Make sure your puppy gets enough rest, set up their bed or crate in a calm place and make it a nice place with the puppy’s toys.