Is your puppy biting you and other members of your family? Are you at your wit’s end trying to figure out how to teach him not to bite? Whether the biting is playful or aggressive, this behavior must be stopped, now. If puppy is allowed to continue biting while he is young, he will bite as an adult dog and that can spell big trouble for both you and your dog.
There are two types of biting – normal or playful biting and aggressive biting. Playful biting and nipping is a common behavior in puppy litters. They tumble, play, romp, bite and nip. This is normal.
When you bring your puppy home, you and your family become his litter or pack. Since biting was normal behavior in the litter-pack, your puppy will think it is normal behavior in this new pack. When you play with or pat your puppy, you will find that your arm or hand, or both will end up in his mouth. This is referred to as mouthing. All puppies do it, but it cannot be allowed to continue.
A puppy’s teeth are sharp as razors. It won’t be long until your arms and hands are riddled with puncture marks. When your puppy bites, cuddle him to your chest and encircle his muzzle with your other hand, at the same time saying a sharp, firm, and “No!” After repetitive and consistent reprimands, puppy will grow to realize that his playful biting is not acceptable and will give up the annoying habit.
When you encircle your puppy’s muzzle in your hand, do it gently but firmly. Be sure your hand is not over his nose. He has to be able to breathe while being reprimanded. This method of training will not work if other members of the pack (family) are encouraging roughhousing. Let all members of the pack know that rough play will not be tolerated.
Be sure to buy your puppy lots of chew toys. Encourage him to play with them. Praise him when he chews the right things. When he chews household items, take them away and replace them with one of his toys. He will soon learn what is acceptable and what is not.
Repetition is the key to discourage biting. Each time puppy bites you, cuddle him, restrain muzzle and give a firm “No!” You will be surprised at how fast your puppy responds. Like children, puppies learn quickly what they can and cannot get away with.
Aggression biting is accompanied by growls and a fixed stare. It is not a continuous action, but rather snap, release and retreat. When this happens, restrain the puppy’s muzzle in the same way explained for play biting, accompanied by a loud, sharp, “No!”
Aggressive dogs do not like to be restrained; they like to be in control. This is out of the question. You are the leader of the pack and you have to teach your puppy that you, and only you, have the dominant role.
One way to teach your puppy that you are dominant is to wrap him in a baby’s blanket or towel and lay him in your lap while you are watching TV, reading, or taking part in a conversation with someone. Keep him there for thirty to sixty minutes – until he ceases to wiggle and becomes calm. This sends him a forceful message that says, “I am in control.”
Never roughhouse with an aggressive puppy. Play more passive and fun games like hide-and-seek, fetch, sniff-out-the-treat, or leash training. It is imperative that aggressive biting has stopped before your puppy is four months old. The longer he is allowed to display aggression, the harder it will be to break him of the habit. In a litter-pack situation, aggressiveness would never be tolerated by puppy’s mother and siblings. He would be promptly reprimanded and put in his place. If he hasn’t stopped his aggressive biting by this time, enroll him in a dominance training course that is taught by a professional. The expensive will be worth it for both you and your pet.
Adult dogs bite for only two reasons – uncontrolled dominance or fear. It is imperative that you never allow your puppy to bite aggressively without a harsh reprimand. However, never hit your dog. Instead of eradicating aggression, hitting encourages it.
Taking control of, and abolishing aggressive behavior the first time it occurs is much easier than waiting until it has happened several times. Let your pet know right from the start that aggression of any kind is unacceptable.
In order to get your puppy to obey your commands, you must gain his respect and trust. You do this by teaching him basic commands while he’s very young. Be consistent. Never let your puppy away with unacceptable behavior. Use repetition. Do the same thing over and over and… well, you get the idea.
When your puppy is successful in his efforts to please you, praise him and pat his head or scratch his ears. When he fails, try again. Never physically reprimand your dog. This breeds fear and fear will make him bite.
Interact with your dog. Play with him, walk with him and bond with him. This will give him a desire to please you and when you reprimand him, he will get the message. Soon, your puppy will give up both play and aggressive biting and mature into a happy, healthy dog that will bring much joy into your life.
Derrick Madison has two wonderful dogs, and shares his dog training methods on his blog. For more information on dog training techniques, and how to deal with problem dog behavior, you can visit his blog at: Dog Behavior Training 101 [link inactive]