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Home DOG GROOMING How To Stop a Puppy From Biting

How To Stop a Puppy From Biting

by Bella Woof

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. But it’s not all encouragement and puppy playtime: soon, your puppy willpower They bite anything they can put in their mouth. But why do puppies bite so much when they are small? It is normal? Should you try to prevent your puppy from biting you? When does it indicate that there is a problem?

Here’s a breakdown of a puppy’s biting behavior and what you can do to help him learn how (and when!) to use his mouth appropriately.

Why do puppies bite?

It is normal for puppies to use their teeth during play and exploration. This is how they learn about the world and plays an important role in their socialization. Not to mention, puppies also chew everything, including you and your clothes, while teething.

Here are some reasons why puppies bite.

1. They are exploring the world

Puppies learn a lot from biting things, including other puppies, their parents, and inanimate objects. They receive sensory information about how hard they can bite that particular object, what it tastes like, and whether they should modify their behavior.

Depending on the feedback a puppy receives, such as the taste and consistency of the object or the reaction it has, a puppy may continue biting, change the pressure of his bite, or stop completely.

2. Your puppy is teething

An adult dog’s teeth begin to grow when your puppy is between 12 and 16 weeks old, and his gums may be a little sore during this time. Because of this, puppy biting tends to peak when the puppy is about 13 weeks old.

During this time, you will likely notice an increase in chewing on objects, including yourself, your clothes, and maybe even your hair.

3. It’s play behavior

Some puppies bite or bite to encourage play. When puppies bite each other, they learn a very important skill: bite inhibition. By playing bite, puppies learn how much pressure they can apply with their teeth and what happens when they bite too hard.

For example, let’s say Puppy A and Puppy B are playing together. When Puppy A bites too hard and causes pain to Puppy B, Puppy B will cry and refuse to continue playing with Puppy A. Puppy B may even walk away from Puppy A.

Through this interaction, Puppy A learns that if he bites too hard, other puppies will not play with him. Then, Puppy A makes his play bites gentler, so that they don’t result in the end of play with Puppy B.

Some puppies can learn through a single process, while others need multiple play sessions with multiple puppies to learn to soften their bite.

Your puppy will try to play by biting you because, for him, this is normal canine behavior. When this happens, you will need to understand how to respond so that your puppy receives clear and gentle guidance.

How to get a puppy to stop biting

Stopping your puppy’s biting and biting depends largely on because he’s doing it in the first place. Here’s how to stop your puppy from biting for common reasons.

If your puppy is chewing your belongings

Schedule exercises, games, and mental stimulation sessions for your puppy. In addition, they will need time to sleep peacefully. When he has extra energy, is bored, or is overly tired, your pup may chew on random objects (or you) as a result.

Give your puppy a wide variety of puppy toys for him to chew on, and pick up other household items within reach that he shouldn’t chew on. If you see your puppy chewing on inappropriate objects around the house, calmly redirect him to a toy. Once they interact with the toy, praise them.

If your puppy is teething

Puppy teething toys relieve sore gums and are usually made with a softer plastic so they won’t damage baby teeth or emerging permanent teeth. Some teething-friendly toys include:

Always supervise your puppy when playing with any toy to make sure he doesn’t bite off small pieces and swallow them.

If your puppy bites you to play

If your puppy bites to start play or during play and is not redirected to a toy, get up immediately and leave the puppy’s area. Go to another room or to the other side of a door or barrier so the puppy can’t follow you. Stay out of the area for about 30 seconds. When you return, grab a toy and continue playing. You may have to repeat this process.

Remember: if your puppy is tired, this can increase biting. Your puppy may need to be encouraged to nap.

Never encourage biting by encouraging a puppy to chase your hands or toes. Soon, your puppy will grow older and his teeth will be sharper. The puppy bite that used to be harmless will turn into a bite that is no longer fun.

Tips to stop biting puppies

While puppy biting is a normal part of a dog’s development, it is important that you manage the behavior appropriately. You must be patient and constant. If you are frustrated by your puppy’s behavior, seek professional help from a certified behavior counselor, an applied animal behaviorist, your veterinarian, or a veterinary behaviorist.

Here are some tips to prevent your puppy from biting you.

Avoid harsh verbal or physical corrections

Verbal and physical corrections do not teach your puppy how to behave; They only teach a puppy to suppress a behavior or escalate her behavior to defend herself. Using punishment to train your puppy will create fear and anxiety.

Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog, whether to prevent your puppy from biting or to teach basic cues like “sit” and “stay.”

While puppy biting is a normal part of a dog’s development, it is important that you manage the behavior appropriately.

Give your puppy age-appropriate toys

Start with a good number of various puppy-friendly toys, such as soft rubber toys, a puppy-sized rubber ball, a rope toy, and a stuffed toy with a squeaker. Dogs have preferences and it is good to identify them early. Encourage your puppy to play by showing him the toy and rolling or moving it.

Every time your puppy grabs the toy, verbally praise him. If your puppy grabs your hand or clothing, stop moving or offering resistance. Instead, stop the play and leave, following the procedure described above.

If the puppy follows you and continues to bite your feet, ankles, or legs, leave the play area and move to another room or behind a door. It will send a clear message that every time your puppy bites you, you will stop interacting with him.

Wait 20 to 30 seconds and then exit again. When your puppy comes running towards you, immediately treat him to a toy. Very soon they will learn that it is more fun to bite toys than it is you.

Try Puppy Socialization Classes

Attending puppy socialization classes is also a helpful (and crucial!) part of your puppy’s education. Here, puppies learn to read other dogs’ body language, bite inhibition, and communicate with a wide variety of puppies of similar ages.

Puppy 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.

Note: Make sure that if socializing is allowed in a class setting, all participants are actually puppies. Dogs with permanent teeth should not be included.

Biting and Biting in Adult Dogs

It is much easier to teach puppies to bite inhibit because their jaws are not fully developed. Otherwise, you would be looking at a dog that can bite hard enough to cause bruises, abrasions or punctures.

If you do not teach your puppy to inhibit bites and do not provide him with appropriate objects to chew on, he may develop into an exuberant adolescent dog that may be more difficult to handle due to his inability to inhibit his bites.

If your dog has permanent teeth and continues to bite hard enough to cause pain, skin breakage, or bleeding and none of your bite inhibition methods are working, contact a behavior professional. A Certified Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), or Veterinary Behaviorist (DACVB) are qualified to help you.

Puppy Bite FAQs

At what age do puppies stop biting?

Puppy biting peaks when the puppy is transitioning from baby teeth to permanent teeth, around 12 to 13 weeks of age. All permanent teeth are usually present by the age of 7 months. At this point, teething is no longer a factor and biting behavior (with clear and consistent responses from people and other dogs) should begin to subside.

But some dogs learn that biting works to make certain things happen. If the bite has been strengthened, even accidentally, it could continue into adulthood.

Note: If your puppy doesn’t bite anything at any time, something may be wrong. Definitely consult your veterinarian or a behavioral professional for an evaluation to help identify any potential problems.

How do I get my puppy to stop biting my hands and feet?

Because our hands and feet move a lot, they can quickly become things that puppies like to chase and bite. To get a puppy to stop biting:

  • Always play with your puppy using toys so there is something appropriate for him to interact with.

  • Walk calmly so your feet don’t become targets.

  • If your puppy bites your hands while petting him, redirect him to a preferred chewing outlet.

  • If the biting also includes any combination of holding with pressure, body tension, deep growling, or head shaking from side to side, contact a behavioral professional.

How do I stop my puppy from biting my ankles when I walk?

If your puppy bites your ankles, try dragging a tug toy across the floor to target it. Another way to prevent a puppy from biting is to encourage him to follow you, with his eyes looking up, while you reinforce the behavior with food. This can also serve as a basis for teaching your puppy to walk on a loose leash.

If your puppy seems unable to respond and continues to bite, he may be too tired. Place them in their cage or designated area with a treat to encourage them to nap.

Cover image: Adobe/Lubo Ivanko


Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB


Dr. Wailani Sung is passionate about helping owners prevent or effectively manage behavioral problems in companion animals, allowing them…

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