Puppy Biting

Biting – Hands, Faces & Toes.

Your puppy is blessed with a needle sharp collection of tiny puppy teeth. Our job, before your puppy looses these baby teeth and acquire an adult set, is to teach them how to control the power in their bite.

I like to use a 5 point scale:

  • Level 1 – very gentle,
  • Level 3 - “Ouch!”
  • Level 5 - “You just drew blood!”

Over the next 5-7 days, give your puppy feedback for any biting at a Level 3 or above. This involves the more painful bites (we're ignoring the soft stuff for now). Then every few days reduce the level until your puppy has settled at Level 1.

How do I give my puppy feedback that they will listen to?

Step 1. I like to “yelp”, but this can sometimes increase your puppy's excitement. Whether you “yelp” or not, the important part is your body language. Stop what you are doing, and move away from your puppy. Turn your back, look up. Ignore them for 5-10 seconds.

Once your puppy is politely waiting for your attention, please resume play time.

Step 2. If on the other hand your puppy is still jumping on you, trying to bite, put some space between you. You can walk around a coffee table, or into another room. You're basically waiting for a 5-10 second reprieve, before continuing with the games/affection.

If every time your puppy nips you, activity ceases, they will quickly learn that if they want the games to continue they have to play nicely.

Step 3. If you are unable to walk away from your puppy because they are hanging off your pants or socks you should disengage them and promptly redirect their attention to an appropriate chew item. Frozen bones, bully sticks, stuffed Kongs work great for situations like these.

Step 4. If you've tried the three previous step, and your puppy is still chewing on you, you can use their containment area, crate or garden/patio to enable you to perform a time-out. Remember to keep the time-out short, and to release them promptly once they've settled.

Note: Your puppy doesn't know that your clothing isn't attached to you. If they bite your socks, pant legs, scarf etc I want you to react as if they just nipped the most delicate part of naked skin.

It Will Get Easier

Between 8-16 weeks your puppy is putting everything into it's mouth. Like a child, they need to explore their environment, and this is the easiest way for them to do so.

Between 4-6 month, your puppy's baby teeth will start to fall out, and be replaced with adult teeth. Your puppy may have stopped chew things that don't belong to them a couple of weeks ago, but your stuff isn't safe yet. During teething-time your puppy's gums will be sore and itchy as their new teeth cut through their gums. To help sooth themselves your puppy will start to chew things that they may have ignored previously, like table and chair legs, window frames, wire cords etc. 

Regular application of Bitter Apple Spray can help to deter your pup from chew house hold items, while you provide them with teething-appropriate toys. You can by teething toys form most pet stores, or you can make your own by soaking a rope toy in homemade chicken stock (or simmer a couple of table spoons of tinned dog food in a little water), putting the rope toy in a zip-lock bag and freezing it.

Our aim over the next few weeks is to gradually reduce the level that your puppy bites at when excited, with the aim of reaching level 1 by the time their adult teeth have arrived. You do not want to rush to the “No biting” rule immediately, because our job is to teach your puppy how to control their bite, and in the process show them that human skin is really fragile.