HELP! MY puppy is biting me!
Work Out Why
Part of the battle with puppy biting is working out what “kind” of bite is happening at any time, so you can combat it effectively:
Teething - often like gnawing, and when they are more relaxed. Try swapping your own skin for frozen carrots, wet frozen odd socks, a frozen Kong.
- Exploring – they literally have no hands so explore the world with their mouths, and a bit of exploring/testing out even on human skin is necessary when they are very small. They need to learn bite inhibition (how are or soft to bite), which hopefully they get from their siblings when playing, but if not, it can get really painful. Squeaking, pulling away, shouting, NO, finger wagging - all natural human responses, are often a signal to the pup to play more, and make it worse, so a simple but firm “too bad” and walk off (actually leave the pup) – all fun stops when you hurt human.
Playing – if she’s grabbing as your moving, tugging and using you as a rag toy, pulling/snatching back, jerking, saying NO, all increases the excitement of the game. Have lots of legal rag toys around everywhere so you can redirect her onto it and continue the game. Use old odd socks with a knot tied in them – we all have lots of them!
Sometimes puppies learn to communicate displeasure at being handled by mouthing/biting, in an “aw Mum get off me!” way. Dogs are animals with choices like you and I, and many of them don’t really like the way we handle our beloved pets. Sadly we humans are very bad at noticing the signs, so always stop and think does your puppy really want hands coming towards their face, or being held/carried, or being rubbed at that moment?
Dogs Do What Works
Basically dogs do what they find reinforcing – if they like something, they do it again. If your pup keeps doing something you don’t like, stop and think WHY are they doing this? WHAT are they getting from it? And HOW can I remove what they like from it. Saying “leave” and throwing treats is a little pointless if she hasn’t been properly trained to let go, you might even be rewarding the nipping with treats!
Don’t handle pup when overaroused – walk away
Draw a line: Tooth on Skin – “Too Bad” and walk away.
ALL FUN STOPS immediately.
Provide “legal” outlets for chewing.