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If you’re having a young puppy, one of your most burning questions probably is: do puppies grow out of biting?
Ugh, I’ve so been there! While getting a puppy is one of the most amazing experiences, those little puppy teeth are incredibly sharp. We love our little furry friends so much. But sometimes, you’re wondering if you didn’t accidentally adopt a crocodile, right?
Well, here’s the good news: with a little of your help, puppies normally do grow out of biting! However, they first need to understand that this isn’t an acceptable behavior. And more importantly, they need to understand what to do instead.
So, let’s start from the beginning. Let’s first look at why puppies love to use their teeth so much. After that, we’ll look at how you can help your puppy grow out of biting as quickly as possible.
Why Is My Puppy Biting Me Aggressively?
Your little puppy is so cute!
Until he starts chomping down on your hands or your toes…
How can something so adorable be so sharp and painful?
If you’re wondering why your puppy is biting you so much, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Puppy biting is totally normal, and it’s also normal to be frustrated by it.
But why exactly is your puppy biting you so much?
Puppies Explore the World Through Their Mouths
Your puppy is super young, and he’s still figuring out how the world works, and what everything is. To do that, he’ll start putting things in his mouth.
That’s because puppies experience the world through their mouths. They’re a lot like human babies that way! Babies will pick things up and toss them around as a way of learning about the world. They also tend to stick things in their mouths.
Your puppy is doing the same thing! He’s trying to figure out what everything is by sticking it all in his mouth.
Other Puppies Don’t Mind a Little Nipping
If you’ve ever seen puppies playing together, then you’ve seen how mouthy they get with each other! A little bit of biting and nipping is a normal part of puppy play.
If your puppy started chomping on you, then it’s very likely he’s trying to initiate playtime with you. After all, it works with his litter mates and other puppy pals. So why shouldn’t it work with you?
He Doesn’t Know that It Hurts You
Puppies have fur covering their bodies, which offers them some protection from the play bites of other puppies. But you don’t have any fur on you, which means your skin is much more vulnerable!
And unfortunately, that’s something your puppy just doesn’t understand.
He might think that you’re just as safe from his teeth as other puppies are, and that it’s okay to bite you like he would his puppy friends!
Do Puppies Grow Out of Biting?
Now, let’s get to the core question: do puppies grow out of biting?
The short answer to this question is: yes.
The longer answer to this question is: yes, but he might need your help.
Your puppy is biting you because he’s still figuring out the way the world works. He’s checking everything out and learning what it all is. His previous playing experiences with his littermates involved some biting, so he thinks it’s perfectly normal to bite you.
Your puppy may also be teething, and he might bite to relieve the discomfort.
Whatever the reason, over time your puppy’s adult teeth will finish coming in, he’ll learn how to play more calmly, and his boundless puppy energy will (hopefully) start decreasing.
But you also need to be a good model for him, and teach him that it’s not okay for him to bite people. If you don’t show him what good behavior is, your puppy might keep some of these bad biting habits as he grows into an adult.
The best way to do that is to be proactive. So how exactly do you teach a puppy to stop biting? Let’s get into it.
How Do You Get a Puppy to Stop Biting?
The number one thing all of these tips are going to teach your puppy is bite inhibition. This means teaching your puppy not to bite down hard on you.
Ready to find out how to stop your puppy’s biting habit for good? Here are a few ways to help your little guy out. For more detailed information, this other article is much more in-depth.
Stop Moving and Ignore Him
Your puppy is biting you because he thinks that it’s fun and part of the game. After all, this is how he played with his litter mates!
Some people might think that the best way to get a puppy to stop biting you is by punishing him in some way. However, physically punishing your puppy isn’t effective, and can lead to aggression down the road.
Instead, your goal should be to make your puppy’s “game” no longer any fun for him. The best way to do that is to stop playing, stop moving altogether, and completely ignore your puppy.
Your puppy might be confused at first, and try to get you to keep playing. But it’s important to continue ignoring him until he stops biting you and settles down.
If He Keeps Biting, Yelp and Walk Away
This is actually how puppies teach each other bite inhibition. If you’ve ever watched puppies play together, you may have noticed that if one starts roughhousing a little too much, the other puppy will yelp and stop playing.
The puppy who yelped is telling the puppy who bit, “Hey, that was too hard!” After a few seconds, playing will usually resume, and the puppies will learn to be gentler.
If your puppy is biting you a little too hard, you can try this method too. Let out a yelp or an “ouch!” and then walk away for a few seconds to show your puppy that he doesn’t get to keep playing if he bites you like that.
Bear in mind, after a certain age this tip might not be as effective as it is with younger puppies. This is because your yelp might sound a bit too much like a squeaky toy, which is fun and exciting. If your dog isn’t a puppy anymore, check out this article about what you can do if your dog jumps and bites when excited.
Give Him a Time Out and Close the Door Behind You
If your puppy is still trying to bite you hard, that could be a sign that he’s overstimulated, or experiencing the dreaded overtired puppy biting. If that’s the case, then putting your puppy in a little time out could help him settle down.
With this, remember to be very calm. Don’t yell at your puppy, or speak to him at all. Just get up, walk out of the room, and shut the door behind you.
This will give your puppy the chance to settle down. You might also want to think about crate training your puppy for his time outs. Wondering where to start? Here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.
With crate time outs, make sure that it never feels like a punishment for your puppy. Only put him in his crate once he stopped biting but is still a little too hyper. That’s a great moment to put him in there so he can calm down and take a little nap.
Reward Calm Behavior
This is where some positive reinforcement comes in! Positive reinforcement is all about ignoring bad behavior, and encouraging good behavior. It’s one of the most effective ways to train a dog.
We’ve gone over the ways you can discourage bad behavior, but we can’t forget about rewarding good behavior! It’s just as important to show your dog what you like as it is to show him what you don’t like.
So if your puppy is playing calmly, or is lying down to relax somewhere on his own, reward that behavior.
If the behavior is playing, then the reward might be to switch to his favorite toy, or give him a treat during the play session. If he’s just relaxing on his bed, give him a treat or something yummy and fun to chew on.
Doing this will show your puppy what you want him to be doing! It also shows him that calm behavior gets him tasty treats and quality time with you, which is all he really wants.
How to Stop a Puppy from Biting Your Feet and Hands
If your puppy is pretty focused on biting your hands and feet, you can still follow the same tips as above.
Whenever your puppy goes for your hands while playing, immediately stop the game and give him a time out if he keeps aiming for your hands. If he’s one of those dreaded ankle-biters, then stop moving completely. You can either redirect his attention to a toy, or just wait until he stops chomping and then treat him and keep moving.
How to Stop a Puppy from Biting When Excited
If your puppy is an excited biter, there are ways you can help him stop. Try being super calm and boring so your puppy doesn’t get even more amped up.
You can also try taking a bit of food or some treats and scattering them on the floor. Getting your dog to use his nose will distract him and help him calm down.
At What Age Do Puppies Calm Down?
Sadly, there’s no universal answer to this question. All dogs are different!
As a general rule though, most puppies will start calming down when they’re around six to 9 months old. Once they reach a year to 1.5 years old, they’re considered full adults and will behave much less like puppies.
Having a puppy and watching him grow up is such a rewarding experience. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t frustrating at times!
Puppy biting is one of the most common dog parent complaints, and for good reason. It’s annoying, distracting, and painful! Luckily, with your help your puppy can learn that biting isn’t the way to get what he wants.
If you and your puppy are struggling with biting, remember to be calm and teach him how to play gently. Get up and ignore him if he’s being too rough, and reward him when he’s showing calm behavior.
And most importantly, remember to be patient! Your puppy is still so young, and it takes time for him to understand the way the world works. But with you by his side, he’ll learn how to be polite and respectful, and the perfect companion.
Struggling with your puppy's hyper behavior? I offer private 1:1 online coaching to help you with your puppy's behavioral problems (biting, crate training struggles, crying, barking, separation anxiety, daily schedule etc.). Schedule a free 15-minute video Zoom call to get started!
Please note that I'm not a professional dog trainer. Everything I know is from my own experience with my hyper Mini Poodle Baloo and hundreds of hours of research.