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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

How to Stop Puppy Biting

Congratulations on welcoming a new puppy into your life! While the joys of puppyhood are countless, so are the challenges, and one of the most common frustrations for new puppy parents is biting. Even if you've been diligently working on bite inhibition, you might find yourself wondering why is my puppy biting. Let's delve into this behavior to understand what's happening and how to stop puppy biting.

First You Must Understand Why Puppies bite:

Natural Instinct: First and foremost, it's crucial to recognize that biting is a natural instinct for puppies. They use their mouths to explore their environment, play with littermates, and even communicate. It's a part of their developmental process, and it won't disappear overnight or without training.

Learning Through Play: Puppies also learn about the world and their boundaries through play, which includes mouthing and biting. When they play with their littermates, they receive immediate feedback on the force of their bite, helping them develop bite inhibition, or the ability to control the force of their bite. It's important to note that while puppies learn from their littermates, attempting to mimic this behavior as humans doesn't yield the same results. Dogs inherently understand that we are not dogs, so saying "Ouch" or yelping may not be interpreted in the same way and can even exacerbate the biting behavior. Therefore, effective training techniques that account for this distinction are essential for teaching bite inhibition.

Unintentional Reinforcement: Here's where things can get tricky. Your reactions to your puppy's biting, even if well-intentioned, can inadvertently reinforce the behavior. If you react with loud yelps or sudden movements, your puppy might see it as a game, thinking that any form of attention, even negative attention, is rewarding. Additionally, other unintentional reinforcements can include pushing your puppy away forcefully or engaging in rough play, which can send mixed signals about acceptable play behavior. It's crucial to maintain consistency in your response to biting and opt for positive, gentle training techniques to guide your puppy toward more appropriate behaviors.

How to Stop Puppy Biting: To address persistent biting, effective strategies are key. Here's what you can do:

  • Withhold Attention: When your puppy bites, withhold all attention. Stop playing, stand up, and walk away from your puppy. This communicates that playtime ends when they bite or nip.

  • Supervise Interactions with Children: If you have children, it's essential to closely supervise interactions between your puppy and your little ones. One helpful measure is to keep your puppy on a leash during these interactions. This not only provides a means to prevent your puppy from persistently chasing and nipping at your children but also gives your child the option to move away from the puppy if needed, fostering a safer and more controlled environment for everyone involved.

  • Positive Reinforcement Training: When your puppy engages in gentle play without biting, offer reward them with small treats, engaging toys, or affectionate petting. These positive associations encourage your puppy to continue displaying gentle play behavior, making it a more effective and enjoyable training experience.

  • Avoid Punishment: Lastly, avoid using any form of punishment, as it can lead to fear or aggression and is not an effective way to address biting.

In the journey of raising a puppy, understanding and addressing biting behavior is a significant milestone. Remember that it's a natural part of their development, but by employing the right training techniques and consistent positive reinforcement, you can guide your puppy toward gentler play. If you ever find yourself needing further guidance or support with puppy biting or any other training concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to us at 301-231-1907 or via email at We're here to help you and your furry companion build a harmonious and joyful relationship.

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