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Puppy biting – 3 reasons it happens and what to do about it.

Here are some of the most common reasons for puppy biting, and what you can do to start teaching your puppy that mouthing and biting don't pay off.
a springer spaniel type puppy biting someone's trouser leg with the caption stop your puppy biting

Puppies can bite for a variety of reasons but rest assured it’s totally normal, natural behaviour. Here are some of the most common reasons, and what you can do to start teaching your puppy that mouthing and biting don’t pay off.

Stop puppy biting by not reacting

One reason puppies might bite is of your reaction. If you react in a way that the puppy likes, they will do it more in the future. But if you don’t react, they are likely to do it less in the future.

Puppies can have surprisingly sharp teeth and strong jaws and it can hurt even when they don’t bite hard. But if you make a lot of fuss and noise and act really excited when your puppy puts their mouth on your clothing, that will encourage them to do it more. They may even start to use this behavior to initiate play.

Puppies may find it exciting if you react that way and they will think it’s a game you’re playing. It’s great fun for them and now you’re engaged and paying them attention! Mission accomplished!!

An example of this is when a playful puppy grabs your trouser leg. If you apply resistance by pulling your leg away, they will try to keep hold of it because you’ve just turned it into a fun game of tug for them to play. Becoming animated will mean you’re accidentally training your puppy to do that again and again.

Some people will advise to give a high pitched yelp when in response to a nip or bite, like when your puppy learned bite inhibition from their litter mates, but I have only ever found this to be counter productive as it normally just serves to amp most puppies up further.

To stop your puppy from biting, you need to be very boring when they do it. Don’t make any noise, don’t pull away, and don’t give them any attention. When puppies learn that biting doesn’t get them the reaction they want, and they will eventually stop doing it. Teach your pup that biting stops play and that fun activities such as a training session will be halted if they put their teeth anywhere they shouldn’t.

If your puppy is biting, ignore them and don’t interact, avoid eye contact and don’t touch them. Wait for them to drop before going on to another toy. Make sure you keep a tug toy in your pocket or a chewie .

Puppies should be ignored and not interacted with. Do not make eye contact with them and do not touch them. Make sure you have a tug toy or a chew toy with you so that you can divert their attention if needed, or a handful of kibble in your pocket to divert their attention away from your pants by tossing it down on the floor.

When your dog starts to release whatever piece of your clothing they have in their jaws, say “Good” and then give them the tug toy, chew or kibble as a reward.

If you can predict when it is going to happen, then you should see them coming and redirect them onto a toy or a chew before they make contact with your or clothes, hands or feet.

Prevent puppy biting with more chew time

Another reason puppies bite is because they don’t have enough opportunities to chew on natural, long-lasting chewies.

When I do a consultation with a new puppy owner, I often ask what the puppy has to chew on and the pet parents show me a selection of things like rope toys, nylon bones, or plastic teething toys. Puppies usually find these boring because there is nothing exciting about them. They are only fun when there is someone else on the other end of them.

For chew items to be appealing to your puppy, it is best if they came from an animal. Things like calf hooves, tripe sticks, beef, scalp, pizzle – all of those things are more attractive to your puppy than the plastic toy or the rope toy. Puppies are likely to chew on them for a longer time.

Buy some tripe sticks, pizzles, and other single-ingredient, natural chews for your puppy to discourage your puppy from chewing on your fingers or toes instead! Even adult dogs need to chew on things. And puppies need to chew more than grown dogs do. Aim for an hour of chew time every day doing this. This will also help keep their teeth healthy.

Chewing is a great way for puppies to calm down. When puppies chew, it releases endorphins that help them relax so if your puppy has gone a bit crazy, encourage them to have some chew time.

Natural chews can keep your puppy occupied for periods through the day. This can be very helpful if you need some free time to yourself so make sure you stock up on these items and offer plenty of chew time to your puppy.

Stop puppy biting getting out of control with more naps

Puppies that seldom sleep during the day are always more problematic. Whilst they are not capable of throwing a tantrum quite like a human toddler, they definitely get grumpy and grouchy when they are tired and are quicker to lose control. This is when you see a lot of the inappropriate behavior so make sure your puppy has plenty of opportunities for nap time.

When you first bring home a puppy between 8 and 12 weeks of age, they might only be able to stay awake for between 45 and 90 minutes at a time. Puppies usually get bitey after they get tired. Make sure that their bed is in a calm place in your household so they’re not disturbed before they’ve had enough sleep.

Give your puppy something to help them relax and fall asleep, such as a natural chew or a stuffed Kong. Put them in their bed, crate or safe puppy pen with the chew to give them a chance to calm down and they will start to chill until they drift off to sleep.

As a professional trainer meeting lots of puppy clients, these are my top three reasons puppies bite. if you can work on these things, you’ll be a lot less likely to get bitten so much by your puppy. With time and patience, you’ll get through it!

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Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you found this useful.

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