SHE’S JUST A BIT NIPPY: HOW TO STOP PUPPY MOUTHING AND BITING
Nipping, mouthing, puppy biting, we have all kinds of cute definitions and ways of explaining away the problem of puppies putting their teeth on us, but the truth is it isn’t cute.
Some trainers will say mouthing is different than nipping and nipping is different than biting and while we understand and agree with most of what they are saying, the problem is that puppy teeth are sharp and hurt! Puppies have some of the sharpest little teeth on the planet!
This is one of those puppy complications that most people face at some point and the biggest problem is that people don’t realize puppy biting is a problem until it becomes so frequent that they can get nothing done, OR it really starts to hurt!
Why Puppy Biting Happens
At Signature, we believe that in order to really make a difference with your dog and dog training we must understand why this behavior happens; then we can make sure we are fulfilling our dog’s needs while making sure we are not inadvertently rewarding bad behaviors.
Puppies play with each other with their teeth. Dogs don’t have hands and opposable thumbs to hold or throw objects or play with toys. They aren’t able to use their hands to explore their environments.
Did you know that puppies are born deaf and blind? Yes, they do not begin to hear or see until they are about 2 weeks old. They learn use their mouths, shortly after they are born, to explore their environment. As they grow they are constantly learning about their environment by biting and mouthing. They bite their litter mates, they mouth on things in their environment, and they even bite their mother.
It is essential that puppies stay with their mother until at least 8 weeks of age so that she can begin to teach them about bite inhibition. When a pup bites mom too hard, mom is swift to bite back and teach the pup about the inappropriateness of rough play. Without mom’s help during this crucial period in a puppy’s life, they often don’t learn about bite inhibition and frequently develop into bullies.
It is normal for dogs to bare their teeth, nip, bite,
and growl at their litter mates and playmates.
Often puppies play hard or soft depending on their playmate and how hard he/she is playing. We have seen dogs throw each other around by their necks, growling and body slamming each other but doing so only in play and never breaking skin.
Dogs can only learn to play with other dogs by playing with other appropriate non-aggressive dogs. Dog play is a crucial behavior for puppies to learn when they are young! Older dogs will teach them the appropriateness of how hard to bite, and young dogs can teach them how fun it is to play rough sometimes.
Remember, if a puppy starts to mouth you do the following:
– Withdraw all attention
– Use consequences instead of punishment
– Make sure plenty of appropriate chew toys are available.
– Sub a toy for the object they are biting a tradeoff
– Be careful not to teach your dog to mouth you by beginning to play with him once he begins to mouth you
– Provide plenty of exercise to unload your puppy.
Remember, mouthing, nipping and biting may be instinctual, but it should never be tolerated or rewarded! If you nip this in the bud early you will have a social dog that has learned bite inhibition and how to control himself! Now go enjoy that new puppy!
Check out our puppy training options at