What to Do About Puppy Mouthing and Biting

How to Stop Puppy Biting and Train Bite Inhibition - 147 Views

What to Do About Puppy Mouthing and Biting

Most experienced dog owners know the pain of puppy bites. A puppy’s mouth is filled with almost 30 tiny, needle-sharp teeth that seem to be permanently snapping at anything that moves, including people’s fingers, toes, clothes, and even hair.

While this may not seem like a big deal for toy breeds, it can be a real problem for bigger dogs that don’t know their own strength. While there is no actual malicious intent behind puppy mouthing and biting, it can become an issue the longer the behaviour is left unaddressed.

First, it’s important to understand why puppies mouth and bite. This is normal puppy behaviour and is how they explore their world. Puppies use their mouths to play, explore, and teething. Your puppy has no idea how a person or another dog will react to a bite. It’s up to you to teach your puppy what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

Just to be clear, there is no way to completely stop your dog from using its mouth to explore. It’s a very strong impulse and cannot be trained away. Think how hard it is to train a child not to touch anything – they’re just naturally curious and want to learn! Puppies are in a similar state in their development, and taking away that opportunity completely can result in stunted growth.

What you don’t want is for your puppy’s nipping and biting to turn into a lifelong habit. Luckily, there are ways to train your puppy to be more gentle, and to redirect their attention to appropriate targets.

Here are few things in your puppy checklist that you can do to stop your puppy from mouthing and biting:

Teach Them Bite Inhibition

One of the most important things you can do when you bring a new puppy home is to teach them to bite inhibition. This is vital for their safety, as well as the safety of those around them. Bite inhibition is when a dog learns to control the force of their bite so that they do not hurt others. Puppies will mouth and nip at people as part of play so it’s important that they learn to do this without applying too much pressure.

There are a few different ways that you can teach your puppy bite inhibition. One way is to yelp or make a high-pitched noise whenever they mouth or nip at you during play. This will startle them and cause them to pause and watch your reaction, stopping the biting momentarily. Once they aren’t biting, praise them and give them a treat. It’s important to do this consistently every time they mouth or nip so that they learn that this is the desired behaviour.

Another way to teach bite inhibition is through redirection. This means that whenever your puppy starts to mouth or nip at you, redirect their attention to something else like a toy or chew bone. This will help them understand that mouthing and biting people is not acceptable behaviour.

Finally, one of the best ways to teach bite inhibition is through positive reinforcement training. This means rewarding your puppy for good behaviour instead of punishing them for bad behaviour. So, whenever your puppy mouths or nips at you in a gentle way, praise them and give them a treat. They will quickly learn that the desired behaviour is gentle mouthing and nipping, not hard biting.

It’s important to start teaching bite inhibition early on in your puppy’s life. The sooner they learn how to control the force of their bite, the safer they will be around people and other animals.

Teach Your Puppy Not to Bite People

Bite inhibition is a good first step, as it’s the “last resort” so that your puppy doesn’t cause harm to a person if they do manage to bite someone. However, prevention is always better – and that means teaching your puppy not to bite people in the first place. This is actually relatively easy to do if you start early.

The first step is to provide your puppy with an appropriate chew toy. When puppies mouth and bite people, they are usually looking for something to chew on. If you give them a toy that is specifically designed for chewing, they will be less likely to mouth and bite people or furniture. There are a variety of chew toys available at pet stores or online. Find one that your puppy likes and make sure to keep it readily available.

In addition to providing a chew toy, you also need to redirect your puppy’s attention when they start to mouth or bite. If you see your puppy starting to mouth your hand, for example, give them a quick tap on the nose and say “no” in a firm voice. Then immediately give them their chew toy. This correction needs to happen at the moment so that the puppy associates their biting with the correct behaviour. It is important that you be consistent with this so that your puppy learns that mouthing and biting are not acceptable.

Be aware that you aren’t trying to punish the puppy when you correct their behaviour, just getting their attention so that they stop biting. Punishments are actually more likely to encourage a puppy to continue biting since they view it as more attention, which is desirable.

If your puppy continues to mouth and bite despite your efforts to redirect their attention, you may need to use more drastic measures. One option is to put your puppy in a time-out by putting them in their crate or another room for a short period of time (no more than 10 minutes). This will help them learn that mouthing and biting lead to being isolated from the family, which is something they will want to avoid.

Extra Tips


If you have tried all of these methods and your puppy is still mouthing and biting, it is important to consult with a professional trainer or behaviourist who can help you figure out why your puppy is engaging in this behaviour and how best to address it. This is especially important if your puppy gets older (around 6 months) and still hasn’t learned bite inhibition or not to bite people. By this point, they may need corrective training so that they don’t pose a danger to themselves or to others.

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