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Puppy Biting - Tips & Tricks for New Puppy Owners

Puppies are adorable, but there are some behaviors that aren’t so adorable. Puppy teething can be one of them. All 28 baby teeth generally have come in by around 8 weeks. Their baby teeth begin to fall out at about 12 weeks and by 16 weeks their adult teeth come in. There is a lot you can do to soothe your teething puppy as well as lots of training you can do to reduce the biting/nipping too as they are wanting to make it feel better. When it comes to jumping, barking, and nipping – know that these behaviors are normal. Training your new puppy will take time and consistent effort, but it is one of the most worthwhile and rewarding journeys! In this blog post we’re going to share some training tips from Baxter & Bella and the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Baxter & Bella Training Tip:

If you puppy jumps on you, or bites at your ankles, in order to get your attention, recognize this is normal new puppy behavior, and simply interrupt them with a sound, redirect them to a toy and begin to train your dog to sit instead (We call this SIT TO SAY PLEASE).

Similarly if your puppy uses their teeth when taking a treat, stop, pull your hand back and try again by slowly lowering your hand and they only receive their reward (treat) once they back off (We call this ONLY IF YOU ARE NICE game) Ultimately, your puppy will learn to use their tongue so they can have a treat. Take the time to be consistent in your interactions / trainings and your puppy will learn more quickly.

Remember: These habits weren’t created in a day, and they won’t be eliminated in a day either, however there are proven practices that can really help!

HELP! How do I handle puppy biting!?

One of the best things to do is quickly redirect this behavior to something preferred, such as a game of (fetch or tug), an activity (practicing sitting to say please), or a training session, moving your dog’s attention away from unwanted behaviors by redirecting focus onto something else and taking charge. Use treats and toys to help teach your dog what is wanted, what is appropriate, and how to win!

Play this Game Daily to Reduce Biting

For example, during puppy biting, rather than becoming frustrated, get treats, capture your dog’s attention, wait for them to sit, mark “YES!” and reward. Then take 5 steps away and repeat, helping your dog begin to form a new habit. Play this game 3-5 times per day and 3-5 minutes each time – teaching him biting doesn’t work, but sitting does!

Often times we give attention to things we don’t want our puppy to do and get stuck in the “NO” loop of us saying “NO” over and over – this will frustrate you and your puppy. Instead, show your dog what to do and how they can win. The more you get on the “YES!” loop, the better your training will become!

It’s important to understand that dogs don’t come with patience. They see what they want and they want it right now. Learning to wait for something is an important life lesson. Once they learn waiting gets them what they want, it is a game changer! Baxter & Bella shows you how to teach your puppy patience and impulse control. These qualities lead to better behavior around exciting things like children, other dogs, or outside distractions.

Teach your puppy that biting means “game over”

If your puppy bites you while playing, that means playtime is over, with no exceptions. Yelling at or physically punishing your puppy, as strange as it sounds, is also a type of reward. It teaches them that biting gets some kind of response from you, which is known as positive punishment. This can also make them fearful of being handled. Instead, teach them that biting will get them nothing. Kathy Santo, dog training and columnist for AKC Family Dog, suggests turning around and tucking your hands into your armpits.

Sometimes a biting puppy is really an over-tired puppy, and they need to be put in a quiet space or crate to take a nap. Other times, they may need a potty break, or may just be hungry or thirsty. Taking a quiet time break can be helpful for you and your puppy. Gently put your puppy in their crate to give them a chance to calm down and prevent them from biting. (Related Blog Post: Crate Training a Puppy) It’s very important to make sure that they don’t learn to associate the crate with punishment so be calm. You can even give them a treat while they’re in their crate. An easy treat idea: put some peanut butter in a kong and keep it in the freezer, get it out and give it to your puppy so they have something yummy to eat/work on while in their crate. This also helps them understand that their crate it like their own room, it’s a safe and fun place to rest and enjoy.

Jumping Tip

If your puppy is pouncing on your legs or feet as you walk, a common playful puppy behavior, keep a high value treat next to your legs as you walk, to help the puppy learn to walk nicely alongside you. This can also be helpful when teaching your puppy to walk on a leash.

Give your puppy an alternative item to chew

It’s a great idea to keep a chew toy on hand at all times, so you can anticipate biting behavior and substitute the toy for your hand or furniture. Doing this will let your puppy know what is OK to bit or chew. If they start nippling at your fingers or toes while you’re playing, offer the toy instead.

What should I give my puppy that's teething/nipping?

  • BeneBone Dog Chew Toy - they love these and it lasts a long time

  • Mix a bit of peanut butter and kibble and freeze in a Kong

  • Kong has a small bone that's made specifically for teething puppies

  • Large frozen carrot - great for teething puppies!

  • Wet frozen dish towel can sooth their teeth too

How do I prevent them from biting my furniture?

We love using Grannick’s Bitter Apple Taste Deterrent Spray. All you have to do is spray it directly on items they’re chewing that they shouldn’t be like shoes, clothing, pet bets, furniture, etc.


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