The practice of puppy biting is actually older than we’d like to believe. Puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them, much as baby humans use their hands to explore the world around them.
It is always possible that a bite might become abite, although most instances of puppy biting are quite mild and hardly affect your child. There are some cases, however, that can be a real danger, and should be addressed promptly.
What causes a puppy to bite?
Sometimes a puppy learns that biting is an acceptable form of play, resulting in little inhibition. Puppies that have been removed from their littermates and mother, or dogs that have been fed chewy or toy-type food may continue this behavior, even into adulthood.
Other puppies may learn the behavior from being spayed while still young. While it may be nice to think that your dog is simply defending his toys or food because he was hungry, he may be telling himself “I bite because I’m hungry.”
If you’ve had your puppy since it was 8 weeks old and he’s still biting, then it’s likely that he hasn’t learned the skill of bite inhibition that most dogs take part in between the ages of 16 and 24 weeks. However, it’s abnormal for your puppy to be biting people even more by the time he’s four months old.
If your dog is biting when he’s younger than four months of age, then your puppy likely wasn’t weaned properly. Proper socialization should have stopped this behavior before he was exposed to people. If your puppy is biting people when he’s younger than four months old, then you can assume there’s something happening because he wasn’t properly socialized.
What can you do to stop it?
Regardless of how young your puppy is, if he bites you, you need to offer lots of oxy Classical conditioning- the same principles used to teach your dog to sit, shake, rollover, etc. You can do it with these techniques.
For a start, it helps if you act like you’re taking aDON nose when he bites you; when he bites, emit a high-pitched yelp (like a puppy would use if he gets bitten) while looking away from him, at his mouth. Train your dog while he’s mouthing you to give him the signal that you’re hurt. (You know how this works. When he bites, look at his mouth to see if his teeth make contact.) If he backs off, that’s a good signal that he’s submitting. But if he bites harder or occurs during aIT worse– extraordinary results will happen. Stop giving him the treat or ignoring him and give him a yell that includes the word “NO”. You’ll be surprised at how quickly he’ll stop the biting. Give him another opportunity, and so on. If he bites again, repeats the yelping and back away from him. If he bites harder or threatens to bite you again, repeat the techniques. If he bites you again, end the experiment and leave him alone for a while or get a substitute, such as a chew toy.
It’s natural for your puppy to bite, but if you become too patient, or if you let it go too long, you’ll be faced with a stronger form of biting in the future. You can’t fight it. You’ll have to accept it as part of your dog’s natural behavior.
There are products on the market containing compounds that dogs don’t like, such as bitter apples. They produce a foul odor and are said to discourage dogs from biting. Two of the best methods are to get him and his playmates together in the same room so that he learns his lesson that biting means no one has permission to munch on him. Another method is to distract him with a treat or squeak behind him. When he starts to bite, you say no firmly while giving him the treat. Having a different dog in the same room may confuse him, but it won’t harm him and he’ll soon get the message that biting means no food.