🐶 How to Stop a Puppy From Biting
To stop a puppy from biting 🐶, I recommend ignoring the puppy’s biting and rewarding calm behavior. But that’s easier said than done!
In this post:
Here are some tips on how to stop a puppy from biting and demanding attention.
I know there are people in the current dog-training world who actually say you shouldn’t tell a dog “no.”
The reasoning behind this is you don’t want to scare the dog, and some say you don’t need to use punishment to teach the dog good behavior.
Another problem with using “no” is the dog might view any attention as just that, attention – “Oh boy! She said no! She’s acknowledging me!”
So, a lot depends on the dog’s sensitivity and how serious you are. Telling my dog Remy “no” works sometimes, and sometimes it just makes him more excited!
We should of course be careful not to scare our puppies, but telling most puppies no is OK and necessary at times.
See my post: How to stop a puppy’s bad behavior
2. Stand up and turn your back to the puppy or walk away.
Usually a puppy is asking for your attention when she’s biting at you, but she’s asking for attention in a rude way.
The advice many trainers will give is to just turn your back to the puppy and ignore her, which is great advice.
However, some pups – like Remy – will make this into a game. He loves to just run around me in circles jumping and biting at me from whatever way I turn.
If your dog does this, one thing you can do is just stand tall and completely still with a straight face, ignoring her 100 percent. Then, either wait for her to calm down or simply turn your back to her and calmly walk away to focus your attention on something else.
Like, stare at your phone or sit on a tall stool and pretend she doesn’t exist. Give her the cold shoulder, basically.
I noticed this was my old dog Ace’s method for ignoring Remy. When Remy became a pest, Ace would stand completely still without acknowledging him. It works.
You just have to follow through and mean it and ignore the pup for a minute or so. They usually get bored by then and move on.
If needed, I calmly put the puppy in her kennel for a break with a chew toy or bully stick. This is not a punishment. It’s to give her some downtime with a bone or something to chew on.
3. Hand the puppy a toy to stop the biting.
When my past foster dog Lana would bite at me for attention, one option was to hand her one of her toys and then ignore her.
For more training tips, see my ebook, “50 Dog Training Tips: Your Training Problems Solved Now.”
It can be really effective to “yelp” or say “ouch!” in a high-pitched voice when a puppy bites because this is how another dog or pup would communicate “Ouch! You’re too rough!”
This works for some puppies, and it just gets other pups even more “riled up.” It helps to consistently ignore the puppy after you “yelp.” I recommend standing up and walking away without saying anything and without looking at the dog. You bite me. Fun is over.
The good news is you only need to ignore the dog for about 45 seconds (short attention spans). Just be prepared to walk away again if she bites when you return.
Jen Gabbard of the blog Puppy Leaks covered this topic, and I thought it was an important post because the “yelping” method actually made her puppy Laika bite harder!
From Puppy Leaks:
Try yelping they said, it will stop the biting they said.
So I did, I tried yelping. Every time Laika touched my skin with those teeth I let out a high pitch yelp. In theory this is the same method used by other dogs to let them know “ow that hurts” and that the game is over.
You know what happened when I yelped at Laika? She started charging me even more.
She wasn’t just giving out nips anymore, she went into full on frenzy attack mode. When I yelped it was her signal to go full force – she not only continued biting but she added leaping, lunging, growling, and tugging into the mix.
Read the full post here.
I really liked the post, because Jen’s issue is a problem I’ve had with puppies too.
The puppy is either more excited by my “yelping.” Or, she ignores my yelping and continues to bite or even views the yelping as attention!
Besides “yelping,” there are other ways to stop a puppy from biting that we’ve already mentioned such as:
- Telling the puppy “no”
- Ignoring the puppy (no attention for biting!)
- Distracting a puppy with a toy
5. Use a leash for more control to stop puppy biting.
Since our foster dog Lana was not trained very well, I couldn’t tell her to stay on a dog bed. (She’s the black puppy you see in these pictures.) I could put her in her crate with a chew toy, but I wanted her to learn to be calm outside of her crate.
So, one option was to put her leash on her, have her lie down at my feet with a toy, and then step on the leash so she couldn’t get up. This is an option for when we’re doing something like watching TV. (It doesn’t work for my puppy Remy. He just chews the leash. Sigh.)
6. Hold the puppy’s mouth shut to stop the biting
One way to stop a puppy from biting is to say “no” while holding his mouth/muzzle closed for a second, followed by ignoring the puppy.
Holding the puppy’s mouth helps to get the point across – “don’t bite” – for some puppies.
I did this with my family’s last puppy, and it worked.
Some people will say “no bite” but “no” is all that’s needed. I teach my dogs that “no” means “stop what you’re doing” so there’s no need to elaborate.
Oh my God that’s so mean to hold a puppy’s mouth shut!
People are sensitive to the idea of holding a puppy’s mouth shut because they don’t want to be “mean” or “too aversive” or – God forbid – dominant.
I can see where they’re coming from, and if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
Instead you can just tell the puppy “no” or “ouch” and walk away.
On the other hand, some puppies will be thrilled you’re holding their mouth shut! “Oh boy! Attention!”
This is yet another example where simply walking away and ignoring the puppy for biting is the most effective.
Just be consistent.
7. Gently grab the puppy by the scruff to stop the biting
Another option (thanks Sandy!) is to gently but firmly grab the puppy’s scruff as you tell him no with a gentle shake. This is essentially what a mother dog would do, and the simple touch works well to get his attention and gently “correct” him.
I know some people will be shocked I’m mentioning this option, but it’s just not a big deal!
8. Use a squirt bottle to stop puppy biting
This can work too, but for me it just complicates things. I don’t always have a water bottle handy, but I can always say “no” and walk away.
A squirt in the face with water is really effective as a correction for some puppies. Yet, other puppies think this is a fun game! My retriever Ace thought it was great to be squirted with water! Silly Labs.
Another option is to use a product called the Pet Corrector, which shoots air at the dog. This is unpleasant for most dogs and helps to stop unwanted behavior.
I wouldn’t use this for really young puppies because it could scare them. I’d use it for “teenage” pups six months old or so.
9. Reaching your fingers into your pup’s mouth to stop biting
This is not what I would recommend because there’s a risk of the person getting bitten even harder and I also think it’s a little mean. I wanted to bring it up, though, because I know people do try this option or search for info about it.
When your puppy bites your hands, the idea is to push your fingers further into the pup’s mouth so it’s uncomfortable for him and he tries to back away.
It sends a pretty clear message. “Don’t bite me!”
Many trainers will say not to do this, and I don’t recommend it either, but if it works for you and your pup, then so be it.
A.) Provide the puppy with plenty of exercise.
If a dog is annoying and “crazy,” it’s usually related to a lack of exercise. It’s just so much easier for the dog to settle down if she’s at least somewhat tired.
I know Lana needed more exercise. I only walked her for about 20 to 30 minutes per day. She needed more like 60 to 90 minutes. I walk my weimaraner Remy for an hour or more every day. He needs it!
B.) Work on puppy obedience training.
Dogs that have solid obedience skills have a higher level of self control in general, and they also have respect for their owners. If your dog doesn’t know the basics like sit, down, stay and come, then work on those for five minutes a day, a few times per day.
C.) Feed the puppy from Kong toys and other puzzle toys.
I stopped feeding our foster dog Lana from a bowl.
Instead, she got food during training sessions or in her Kong-type toys. This made her drain some of her mental and emotional energy, plus it gave her something to do and a reward for her “work.”
This depends on the puppy! Some puppies barely bite at all. Others continue to mouth and bite for years! Unfortunately my dog is 3 years old and still likes to mouth hands when he’s excited.
See our post: How to stop an adult dog from mouthing hands.
8 week old puppy biting
Most 8 week old puppies are going to bite a lot! They are immature, they’re teething and they try to bite or pick up anything in their mouths!
This is also a very “wild” puppy stage where the puppy has tons of energy, which often makes them bite even more!
See our post: Why is my puppy so crazy at night?
6 month old puppy biting
If your puppy is still biting at 6 months, don’t worry. Some puppies are really immature (like my Remy) and will continue biting and mouthing.
Your best bet is to NOT ENGAGE with this behavior. Ignore your dog. Don’t play with him when he bites as this just encourages them to bite more.
Yes, most do. Once the puppy is done teething and has had some training and time to mature they usually stop biting by 6 months or sooner.
Some older puppies and adult dogs will still “mouth” and bite for attention and if that’s the case with your dog you should follow some of the suggestions in this post. It also doesn’t hurt to work with a trainer for some tips.
You can also spend some time working on your puppy or dog’s impulse control, which should also help to reduce biting.
Some puppies like to bite at people’s feet, shoelaces or pant legs for attention or as a way to play. They don’t understand that this hurts or that they’re ruining your clothes!
If your puppy bites at your feet, you can try some of the above suggestions such as:
- squirting the puppy with water
- handing the puppy a rope toy or something more appropriate to bite
- getting up and calmly leaving the room for a moment
A combination of these things may work the best. Try mixing up the chew toys available so your puppy stays interested in her toys and bones.
Unfortunately, it’s normal for a puppy to draw blood on occasion during their wild, biting phases. If your puppy gets this rough, I recommend you ignore him by stepping over the puppy gate for a few minutes or put him in a crate for some downtime with a chew toy.
If your puppy draws blood, take normal precautions such as washing the puncture or scratch with warm, soapy water and putting antibiotic cream on it with a bandage.
For the most part, you shouldn’t have to worry about infection and getting antibiotics unless it’s a deep puncture.
What ideas do the rest of you have to stop a puppy from biting?
Let us know in the comments!
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