Puppies, and especially during their teething period, love to bite because it helps them explore and learn about what they can and can’t chew on.
When your puppy is a small baby and decides to bite on your finger ever so softly, it can sure make us all go “awwww” and lose our minds for a second over how cute this whole situation is.
But, if your puppy doesn’t learn that biting is a bad behavior early on in their life, one day they’re bound to seriously bite someone and cause some damage, and it won’t be cute at all.
So, you’ll want to start teaching your dog not to bite during the early stages of their life, both for your sake and theirs.
How To Get A Puppy To Stop Biting
So, you now know that your puppy biting isn’t something you want them to grow up getting used to. But, how do you exactly get a puppy to stop biting?
You want your puppy to reach a point where they know for themselves that biting humans (or any other living creature) is bad, and most certainly a behavior they should not be doing.
1) Imitation & Punishment
When your puppy is playing with another puppy, they sometimes mouth and bite each other.
When your puppy bites another puppy during this playtime, the other puppy releases a sharp crying sound because of the pain they feel from the bite.
When the other puppy releases this sudden sharp crying sound, your puppy gets surprised and instinctively stops biting the other puppy as a reflex.
We can take this situation and apply it to our favor when our puppies bite us! Why reinvent the wheel, right?
The next time your puppy decides to bite your finger hard (or any other body part of yours for that matter), imitate the sound a puppy would do and try to release a sharp crying sound for yourself.
Then, as soon as your puppy instinctively stops biting you, this is where you have to immediately punish them for what they did, so they learn that this is bad behavior from their part.
But, we’re not talking about any physical punishment or yelling here, as such scolding will teach your puppy nothing at all and will only make the situation worse.
We’re talking about taking a reward away.
So, when your dog does something good, you reward them with something like praise or their favorite treat.
Now, when your dog bites you and you “yelp” and they release, you have to “punish” them by leaving their company, not showing them attention and plain out ignoring them for sometime.
The key for this method to work is timing. You MUST wait until your dog releases whatever body part of yours they were biting on before you do any of this.
If you were to push away your puppy yourself and not wait for them to release, this method will not work and your puppy will not learn anything.
Eventually, this will teach your dog that whenever they start to bite, bad things happen and their favorite person in the whole wide world (you, hopefully) gets sad and mad at them.
If yelping yourself doesn’t seem to work all that well, you could try something like saying “game over!” in a calm yet assertive tone, and then leave the room where your puppy is in and ignore them for some time so they know that they did something bad.
After about 10-20 seconds of ignoring them during this time-out, come back to where your puppy is and continue playing with them.
If they bite you again, repeat the process once more. What this does is it teaches your puppy that they can continue to play with you in a gentle manner, however things like hard biting will not be tolerated.
Keep in mind that you don’t want your puppy to stop wanting to play with you, nor do you want them to think that you don’t want to play with them anymore.
Playing with your puppy is one of the most beneficial ways when it comes to developing a healthy relationship with mutual trust and love between the two of you.
With time, you’ll notice that your dog might still be mouthing and biting you, however the intensity of the bites will have become much less powerful.
This is a golden opportunity for you to capitalize on, where now you’ll want to start yelping/saying “game over!”/etc .. whenever your dog even slightly bites you.
Your dog has now learned that hard biting is not tolerated at all, and now by doing this you’ll continue to teach your dog that even the slightest bit of biting is not allowed.
This continuity process is exactly how you go from a hard-biter puppy to a no-biter puppy.
This method is also very crucial in terms of timing.
Redirecting is all about anticipating when your puppy is about to come at you for a bite, pull whatever body part they were going after away from them before they can get to it, and immediately show them something else that they can bite on (such as a bone toy) to distract them and redirect their attention.
The goal of this method is to teach your dog that that they aren’t allowed to bite on humans, but they are allowed to bite on certain things (that obviously don’t have a life inside of them!).
Sometimes, one of the best ways to ensure that your puppy grows up to be a dog that knows its limits when it comes to biting and can tell right from wrong is simply by properly socializing them.
As we talked about above, when your puppy plays around with other puppies, chances are there’s going to be a mouthing fest going on!
But this is excellent because throughout this socialization process, the other puppies will be helping your puppy know when they took the biting too far (hence making a connection between biting and pain, and deducing that biting is bad), which will go a long way in helping contain such behavior in your puppy.
Not to mention the fact that a tired puppy (and we’re talking about the good kind of tired here that comes with healthy physical activity) is a puppy that has much less energy to go around biting others.
However, you must make sure that your dog only plays around with other vaccinated puppies that aren’t carrying around anything your puppy might contract with a little bit of mouthing and biting.
And since we’re speaking about proper socialization in puppies, it should be noted that it’s very important for puppies to remain with their mothers until they reach the age of 10 weeks.
During this period, the interaction between the puppy and its mother will teach the puppy a whole lot of things, one of which is not to bite, which will make your life a whole lot easier.
Studies have shown that puppies which are taken away from their mothers before they reach the 10 weeks of age mark, and especially between 7-9 weeks of age, are almost guaranteed to develop behavioral problems that will require many efforts to modify.
After the puppy reaches 10 weeks of age, the chances of them developing behavioral problems (such as biting in this case) become much, much less if they are taken away from their mother.
The more puppies are socialized with people and other dogs, the less likely they are to develop bad behaviors like biting, and vice versa.
4) Taste Deterrents
Taste deterrents can work very well when you want to prevent your puppy from biting you.
The way they work is by you spraying some on whatever areas of your body and clothes that your puppy often likes to mouth.
Then, when your puppy comes to mouth/bite you on the spots you sprayed the taste deterrent on, give them a few seconds to react to the taste deterrent and see how they’ll stop by themselves.
However, if you want to properly take advantage of the taste deterrents to train your puppy not to bite, you have to do more than just rely on the deterrents themselves.
As soon as your puppy lets go after they react to the deterrent, this is where you have to come in with heaps on praise on them!
If you don’t praise your puppy after they let go of you due to the bad taste of the deterrent, they won’t learn that you’re happy you stopped mouthing, they’ll just keep on trying later hoping that the taste will eventually go away.
By giving them praise after they let go, your puppy will make an association between the fact that they stopped mouthing and the praise, which leads to them stopping this bad habit.
5) Gentle Play
Being gentle during play isn’t only the obligation of your puppy, you also have an obligation to remain gentle with them as well.
Many dog owners make the mistake of being a bit too aggressive when they’re playing with their puppies, despite them thinking that it’s normal to play like that with their puppy.
These dog owners tend to slightly slap around, hit, whack and shake their puppies thinking that it’s all fun and games.
However, this behavior from dog owners almost always results in increased aggressiveness in your puppy, and leads to the puppy reacting by “wanting in on part of the game” and biting hard.
6) No Treat Until You Stop!
This method is all about training your dog not to bite by using delicious treats.
All you have to do is hold a treat in your hand, wrap your fingers around it real tight and let your dog have an attempt at snatching it away from your hand.
Your puppy will most probably try to bite your fingers, hand or paws in an attempt to take away the treat from your hand, but you have to keep it tightly wrapped around your fingers and keep firm hold of it.
You have to keep holding it real tight until the second your dog moves away from your hand and stops trying to take it, which is when you’ll give them the reward.
This way, you’ll be teaching your puppy that by biting your hand/fingers/paws/etc .. they’ll never get the treat they want, but they will if they are a good boy/girl.
As with anything related to puppy/dog training, consistency must be talked about in this article when you’re trying to teach your puppy that biting is bad.
Let’s assume that you go out of your way to teach your puppy all this good behavior, while other family members of yours or friends destroy everything you’ve taught your dog with just one interaction where they laugh and pet your puppy for being cute and biting their finger.
What happens there?
You’ll be teaching your puppy that biting is bad for all this time, while someone else comes along and destroys everything you’ve taught your puppy with just one interaction by making them think that biting is good!
This is why it’s very important that you make sure that anyone who interacts or plays with your puppy does not let biting pass along as if nothing happened.
8) Professional Training
Sometimes, and this is especially true if you have a puppy that was previously raised in all the wrong ways to exhibit some aggressive behavior, your puppy requires behavior modification from a trained professional.
If you suspect that your puppy is excessively biting and mouthing due to aggression, a certified professional trainer with significant experience in working with puppies which once had similar situations will most certainly help you big time.
In such situations, normal people like you and I might actually do more harm than good to our puppy’s situations, so it’s best to leave it to someone certified in this field and knows exactly what they’re doing.