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Val Caron Animal Hospital

3055 Highway 69 N
Val Caron, ON P3N 1R8


Controlling Puppy Biting

Puppies, with their needle-like teeth are wired up with strong drives to use their jaws. By nature, puppies explore their world with their mouths. As we know, most puppies want to bite, nip, rip and tear anything they can put in their mouths. This includes people. When puppies are left with their mother and littermates, they quickly learn about the consequences of getting too rough and biting too hard. An example being two puppies playing and one bites too hard, the other puppy will usually give a loud yip and end the play altogether. With this type of social interaction, puppies learn to have soft mouths. If they bite too hard their littermates will not play. All puppies love to play, so they naturally learn that they must be very careful with their mouths if they want play to continue.

Unfortunately, most puppies are placed in their human homes before they learn about bite inhibition. This leaves the job of teaching them to have soft mouths up to you. To teach the puppy how to bite softly, you must provide your puppy with feedback on bite strength.

Start by allowing the puppy to chomp on your hand or fingers, and as soon as he starts to bite hard, scream "ouch" as loud as you possibly can. Scare him, then get up and walk away and leave him on his own for a minute or two. Go back and resume play. Repeat the "OUCH" screech every time he starts to bite too hard and leave him on his own. Puppy learns that when he is too rough, play and social interaction stops, he is left on his own.

As the puppy shows more self-control, you can start to target even softer bites. As you do this, start to redirect his biting onto something else. We know he must have an outlet for his biting, we will simply redirect it from our bodies to something more acceptable. Rubber toys and stuffed toys are dog toys that you will encourage him to bite and exercise his jaws on through enthusiastic play. Once you start this he will no longer be allowed to bite people. Any biting on your person will be followed by the "OUCH" and a quick exit. No more fun for puppy. If you are playing with one of his toys and he accidentally bites you, screech in pain and end the game by leaving him on his own. He'll soon get the idea how soft humans really are and that if he wants to play he must be very careful not to touch us with his mouth.

An extra word of caution here: Children must never be allowed to do bite control exercises. Kids and puppies can be an extremely dangerous combination. Kids are best at eliciting prey drives in puppies and adult dogs. They run, scream, flail their arms, and can act very much like wounded animals in the dogs eyes. Young children must always be supervised around puppies and even well socialized adult dogs. Kids should never be allowed to approach and interact with strange dogs.