What to Do If Your Puppy Bites: Understanding and Managing the Behaviour
Puppies and their tendency to bite—why do they do it, and how can you address the issue? Get insights and solutions for puppy biting.
Exploration and Development
When a puppy starts feeling comfortable in its new home, it naturally begins to engage in what may seem like “mischief.” However, it’s essential to understand that this is not bad behaviour. It is part of the puppy’s development and exploration process rather than actual mischief.
Mouth and Teeth Exploration
Puppies often use their jaws and teeth to explore their surroundings. This can lead to chewing on expensive shoes, unravelling household paper rolls, gnawing on kitchen doors or chair legs, treating touched clothes as playthings, claiming children’s toys as their own, and more.
Biting Legs and Hands
It’s not uncommon for a puppy to develop a habit of biting the legs and hands of family members. This behaviour concerns many dog owners, who wonder if it’s healthy and if it indicates a future tendency for the dog to bite people. The answers to these questions are both yes and no.
Normal Puppy Behaviour
It is entirely normal and healthy for a puppy to nibble and bite. As the puppy grows and changes its teeth, this biting behaviour will likely diminish without intervention. Over time, puppies naturally outgrow this stage. However, I will provide tips later in the text on how to expedite this process.
Addressing Biting Objects
On the other hand, if your puppy bites objects, it’s essential to address this behaviour as soon as possible. Chewing objects may persist into adulthood if not properly managed. Most chewing behaviour happens when there are no people around, usually out of boredom. If you are leaving the house for a period of time, it is good to make sure your pet is in a safe space. Limit access to large areas of the home and provide your pet with some of their own toys. Like children, dogs can get bored with toys they always have access to, to prevent this only give them one toy at a time and switch it out often to keep them interested. Preparation is vital before bringing a puppy home. During an initial period, you’ll need to store shoes out of reach and ensure there are no easily accessible items lying around. Simply limiting the puppy’s access to chewable objects significantly helps.
When the puppy bites a chair leg or another wrong item, calmly tell the puppy “no.” This teaches the puppy what is not acceptable. Repetition is essential, as the puppy needs reminders. Offer an appropriate alternative to bite on, such as a designated toy or a fun chewable. Providing an alternative helps the puppy learn faster and satisfies their natural urge to gnaw and be stimulated. Soon, the puppy will know what is permissible to bite and what is not.
Addressing Biting People
While the puppy’s habit of biting people will naturally fade with time, it can be troublesome and even painful. To manage this issue, the key is redirection—giving the puppy an alternative focus. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to solutions. Offer the puppy a toy or throw a few treats on the floor to divert their attention.
By understanding and actively managing your puppy’s biting behaviour, you can guide them through this developmental stage and ensure a well-behaved and happy adult dog.