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How to stop your puppy’s biting habit? That’s one of the most burning questions new puppy parents have.
The first few weeks and months as a new puppy parent can be exhausting.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Actually, the first 6 months with my dog Baloo were not always easy and I definitely needed some strong nerves during this time. On top of potty training, obedience, him chewing on everything, there’s his constant biting habit, right?
It can be nerve-wracking, those first few months. But the moments where your puppy is just your loving furry friend make it worth it a thousand times!
However, there are ways to make that puppy biting habit stop very quickly and I’m showing you how in this post.
But first, let’s look at the reasons puppies like to bite and nip.
Why do puppies have a habit of biting and nipping?
Puppies are so cute and loveable. So, why can’t they just love us back without the biting and nipping, right?
The reasons for your puppy’s biting habit
It’s far easier to teach a puppy or dog what to do when you understand the reasons for his behavior.
In case of puppy biting, there are a few reasons, the most important being: puppies explore the world with their mouth!
It’s similar to a toddler. A toddler also has to test everything with his mouth, that’s just the way babies get to know the world. And baby dogs are no different.
The second reason is that they don’t know it any better. They bite and nip all the time when they play with their litter mates. Only they have fur to protect them…
The third possible reason is that they’re teething. We’ll get to that in a minute.
What age does a puppy stop biting?
Most puppies stop this behavior latest when they’re 4 to 6 months old. Remember that this is a completely normal behavior. If you do the things I’ll tell you down below, the biting will most likely stop within a week!
If it continues after that then it would probably be a good time to talk to a dog trainer. When your pup is 6 months old, then nips and bites will likely get pretty strong and painful. So, it’s important that you can really stop it at that age.
Why does my puppy only bite me?
It’s quite common that puppies only bite and nip one person. And it’s particularly frustrating if that’s you as the primary dog parent.
The reason behind it is simple: Puppies bite the most when they’re really aroused. And if only one person gets them in that state of high arousal, then only that person will be bitten.
So, if your puppy only bites you, it’s likely that you either always get him in very excited or that you always react to his biting.
Any kind or reaction makes your pup continue nipping at you. So, it’s very likely that simply only you encourage it, while it has become boring with everyone else.
And just to be clear: scolding, spraying water, pushing him away or to keep walking when he’s biting your leg etc. are all reactions…
Do puppies bite more when they’re teething?
Puppies are teething at 4 to 5 months and yes, they bite a lot during that time.
However, they’re rather looking for things to chew on, than nipping at your leg or arm. The teething process can be quite painful for your pup. By chewing on things, he’s trying to get rid of that feeling.
So, if your pup is about 4 to 5 months old and constantly chewing on your furniture, then teething is most likely the reason.
What’s also great is to give him frozen things to chew like a frozen kong toy filled with peanut butter, frozen chicken broth cubes or frozen meat. These are all great to numb the pain for a little bit.
Why do puppies bite…
As I’ve mentioned before, puppies bite because they want to get your attention and because it’s a normal part of play. However, puppies usually get much more nippy, the more aroused they are.
So, let’s look at why they do a certain kind of biting.
Why do puppies bite hands and feet?
This usually happens during play time. They’re just so excited that they bite everything in front of their mouths. Plus, hands and feet are usually moving which gets them even more excited.
Why do puppies bite our pant legs?
Puppies like to bite pant legs because it’s at their height when you’re standing. Plus, it moves when you’re walking, which again, gets your puppy super excited!
Anything moving is like a game that your puppy wants to chase and explore with his mouth.
Why do puppies bite when they’re overtired?
That’s another classic. When puppies are overtired they don’t really feel themselves anymore. They’re overstimulated and aroused to an extent where they can’t control their actions anymore.
So, even if your puppy usually isn’t biting, if he does, it’s a clear sign he’s overdue for a nap!
Why do puppies bite while playing?
As I’ve mentioned before, playing gets puppies excited, which in turn leads to biting and nipping.
Plus, it’s a completely normal part of playing with their litter mates. So, it feels completely normal for a puppy to use his teeth during play time.
How to stop your puppy’s biting habit
Okay, the theory behind puppy biting is clear.
Now let’s look at how to stop your puppy’s biting habit.
How to stop a puppy biting in general
There are some general things that help for almost all kinds of puppy biting.
Most important: you need to stop moving!
No matter what he’s biting exactly, stop moving immediately and ignore his behavior. Any kind of pulling away or walking looks like you’re playing tug of war. Hence, your furry friend wants to bite and pull even harder.
If he continues with his biting and it gets stronger, yelp and make an upset face. However, don’t look at him and still ignore him.
If he still doesn’t stop, stand up, walk away and give him a timeout.
What are timeouts?
Timeouts are usually the most effective way to stop your puppy’s biting habit quickly.
The idea is that the fun stops when your puppy starts biting.
Either leash your puppy somewhere during playtime, so you can just stand up and walk away. Or put him in a puppy safe room for a timeout.
A few seconds to max. 2 minutes should be enough.
After that, let him out in a very calm manner but still ignore him. If he’s calm, you can start petting him very calmly.
In case he gets nippy straight away again, then he’ll just get another timeout!
Trust me, puppies get that pretty quickly! They’re not interested in biting if that means that playtime stops. Nothing is more important than playtime with you!
Reward calm behavior
Another great thing to keep your puppy from even thinking about biting is to teach him to stay calm, even when there are exciting things going on.
This video shows it very well:
How to stop a puppy biting so hard
If your puppy is biting particularly hard, then you should teach him bite inhibition. This means that he learns that a little mouthing and licking is fine but a certain strength is not okay.
To train this, ignore his biting but let him do it a little. As soon as it’s too strong, yelp! Most puppies understand that because this is what other puppies do when one gets a little too rough.
Some feel like this is part of playing, though. In that case do the process I’ve just mentioned: walk away or give him a timeout.
How to stop your puppy’s biting habit in specific situations
Now that you know what helps in general, let’s look at some specific situations where you can add some other measures.
How to stop puppy biting when playing
Puppy biting during playing is probably the most common case. So, the general measures are perfect for this situation.
What’s also particularly helpful is to redirect his biting to a toy. Just shove a toy in his mouth and play tug of war with that. This way he learns that biting the toy is ok.
How to stop overtired puppy biting
If you’re puppy gets nippy when he’s overtired, there are a few things that help:
Nr. 1: make sure he gets enough sleep. Puppies need an average of 20 hours of sleep per day! What they definitely don’t need is constant amusement and playing, that will certainly get them overtired. A good routine is about 45 minutes of waking time, followed by 2 to 2.5 hours of nap time.
Nr. 2: give him a timeout. When he’s calmed down, put him in his crate, possibly with a chewy, and let him take a nap.
For more detailed information, check out my guide about overtired puppy biting here.
How do I get my puppy to stop biting my hands and feet
The most important thing is that you stop moving them. Even if it hurts, yelp, but leave your hand or foot there. If you pull, your puppy thinks it’s a game.
Another thing that can help is to handfeed him for a week. This way your pup learns that these are the hands that are feeding him. And he certainly wouldn’t want to hurt those!
How to stop puppy biting and jumping
If your furry friend is biting and jumping, you absolutely have to ignore him!
This is him desperately trying to get your attention, so don’t give it to him. As soon as all paws are on the ground and no teeth are near your skin, praise and pet him very calmly.
Repeat this a couple of times, he should get it pretty quickly. If that doesn’t work, give him a timeout!
I’ve got a separate article about how to train your dog not to jump that goes deeper on that topic.
How to stop puppy biting and barking
That’s the same as with biting and jumping: he wants attention, so don’t give it to him.
If your puppy is a little barker in general, make sure to check out these 2 articles: do dogs get tired of barking (how to stop excessive barking) and why do dogs bark at night?
How to stop puppy biting leash when walking
Puppy biting leash when walking is another classic puppy problem. This behavior can have a number of reasons. Most commonly puppies think that they can play tug of war with the leash. Or they don’t feel like walking on a leash, so he’s being a little brat and tries to get rid of it.
The same principles apply: if he starts biting, don’t move the leash, when he let’s go, praise him. You can even give him a treat and start walking again. To interrupt the behavior put a treat in front of his nose but only reward him once he shows the calm behavior you want.
Puppy biting is a completely normal behavior. This is just how puppies explore the world and how they play with their litter mates.
However, it’s a really annoying behavior for us humans. This is why I showed you how to stop your puppy’s nipping behavior.
Luckily, it’s really easy to stop your dog form constantly nipping at you. All you have to do is basically to stop the fun when he starts to bite.
If you do this consistently for a few days, your puppy will most likely understand it within a weeks time!
Speaking of dog mouths, have you ever thought about what dog jowls are actually useful for?