How to Stop Puppies from Biting (a BarxBuddy Guide)

puppy biting chewing

Why Does My Puppy Keep Nipping Me?

Puppies. They are so full of energy, eager to learn their way around, and they love the attention of their humans. Although puppies are irresistible, their biting can turn your “puppy love” into “puppy angst.”

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a puppy bite, you know those fine, needle-sharp teeth can bring a tear to even the toughest of victims. You may wonder if biting is a normal puppyhood behavior. Do puppies ever stop biting, or do they grow into biters as adult dogs? How can I get my puppy to stop biting me? Before you lose your mind and, possibly, your fingers and toes, we’ve got some tips that can address this puppy parent problem.

Why Do Puppies Bite?

Like human babies, puppies chew, gnaw, and mouth things as a way to investigate their environments. Chewing is essential to the teething process, which starts around two weeks and lasts until your puppy is eight to nine months old. So even though it seems like your puppy has been biting at you forever, it might just be him getting through some tough teething time. However, without direction from you, these behaviors can quickly become a dangerous problem as your pet ages. Before teaching your dog how to be gentle, you need to figure out why his biting might be more than just a developmental phase.

Reasons why puppies bite:

  • Overly excited dogs can lose self-control and start biting.
  • Boredom and frustration can lead dogs to use their teeth.
  • Your puppy has to go potty.
  • Biting can be your dog’s way of saying no to your attention.
  • Your puppy thinks it’s playtime.

Train Your Puppy to Be Gentle

Although you might have viewed those initial puppy bites as cute and funny, without intervention, your puppy will continue to bite with reckless abandon well past the teething stage, potentially hurting other people. Here’s how you can tame your pet’s innermost biting beast.

Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition

Puppies often learn when a bite is too hard when playing with fellow puppies. A quick yelp from a playing partner lets the biting dog know, “Hey, that hurt!” Both dogs will take a moment before resuming play with softer nips. If a puppy can learn to be gentle from interacting with fellow pups, how can you encourage the same behavior with you? Train, treat, repeat. When your puppy bites you, you too can cry out if your puppy bites too hard during play. This shriek may startle him enough to let go and lighten up. Praise your puppy if he stops. Resume whatever you were doing. If your pup bites you hard again, shout as you did before. Don’t allow this to occur more than three times in a 15-minute window.

You may find that a mere yelp on your part has no effect. Some puppies might find a cry out from their human as exciting and encourage them to bite more. If this is the case with your pup, after he bites you, remove your hand and quietly turn around or walk away. You can also opt for a time-out by gently placing your puppy in his crate for a moment to calm down. After about a minute, you can resume play.

Next time your puppy bites you hard, repeat the above steps. If he begins to lighten up his bites, it’s time to teach your pet how to be gentler by shouting “ouch” or stopping playtime when he moderately bites you. Continue with the yelp and ignore tactics until the moderate bites stop. Complete the cycle again, decreasing your tolerance for any bite until you feel little or no pressure from his mouthing.

Redirect Your Puppy from Biting

Redirecting your pup is a great way to teach him that biting you is unacceptable. When you notice your puppy beginning to bite down on you, immediately draw his attention away with his favorite tug toy or chew bone. The goal is for your dog to look for a toy when he feels like biting you.

Offer Your Puppy a Variety of Chew Toys

Biting is part of puppyhood. You can’t get around it. However, substituting high-quality chew toys for your fingers and toes might stop your pup from nibbling on you. Be sure to offer safe toys and chew bones in various textures to help with teething discomfort and mental stimulation.

puppy chewing a soft toy

Tips to Stop Puppy Biting

Because every dog and every situation is unique, you might find the following tips helpful, in addition to biting inhibition, redirection, and offering chew toys.

  • Use positive reinforcement any time you teach or train your pet. Offering praise, treats, toys, or whatever your puppy finds rewarding makes it more likely your pet will repeat good behaviors. Check with your vet before giving treats to your puppy.
  • Sign up for puppy class. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, puppies can start socialization classes at 7 to 8 weeks. The AVSAB further notes puppies should have at minimum one set of vaccines and a first de-worming at least seven days before entering the first class. Time spent interacting and playing with fellow pups in these classes can minimize behavioral issues as your little furry friend grows up.
  • Burn off excess energy. Puppies have a world of get-up-and-go, and it’s on you to ensure they get an adequate amount of playtime and exercise. While there’s no one-size-fits-all amount of exercise for dogs, over-exercising your puppy can cause long-term joint issues (especially in large breeds). Err on the side of caution and keep walks short, provide mental stimulation, multiple play sessions each day along with plenty of time for naps. Adjust your exercise routine as your puppy grows.
  • Give them a break. Just like us, puppies sometimes need a moment. If you find your pup biting you while you’re petting them, back off. Your dog may be telling you he’s over your petting for the time being. If you stop petting and your pup nuzzles back up, you can start petting again. Otherwise, let him lay there and relax.
  • Never punish your puppy verbally or physically, as this can cause your pet to become stressed and fearful, which can lead to aggressive or destructive behaviors. Learn more about when and how to start puppy training.
  • Speak with your vet if your pet is displaying unusual aggressive behavior, it could indicate an underlying health issue.

All the puppy cuteness aside, thankfully, the physical stages of puppyhood do end, and so should your pet’s biting. It’s up to you to ensure that it does.

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