How to stop your puppy from biting
Puppies are so cute and fluffy, but... those teeth are so sharp!
As a puppy owner you will definitely have noticed this. Your pup bites in everything he can get its teeth in and sometimes bites harder than is necessary. This can be a bit painful when you're playing with your furry friend and he mistakes your fingers for one of his favourite puppy toys. Because your pup's teeth are still sharp, a small bite can be painful!
But why do pups have the urge to bite in everything they see? And what can you do to stop your pup from biting?
The function of your dog's teeth
Dogs have always been carnivores. The teeth have incisors to nibble the flesh off bones. The canines are for grabbing prey. The molars are used to tear off the meat and to hold it. The adult teeth have two types of molars, called premolars and molars. These molars are not present in milk teeth.
|Overview of dog teeth|
|Element||Milk teeth||Changing to permanent teeth|
|Incisors||Between 3-4 weeks of age||3-5 months of age|
|Canines||Between 3-5 weeks of age||5-7 months of age|
|Premolars||Between 4-12 weeks of age||4-6 months of age|
|Molars||4-7 months of age|
Teeth of adult dogs consist of 42 elements, which are listed below:
- 12 incisors, 6 in the upper jaw and 6 in the lower jaw
- 4 canines, 2 in the upper jaw and 2 in the lower jaw
- 16 premolars, 8 in the upper jaw and 8 in the lower jaw
- 10 molars, 4 in the upper jaw and 6 in the lower jaw.
Function of baby teeth puppy
Puppies need their teeth to process more solid food. In addition, a puppy needs to learn how to use its teeth. Puppies use their teeth to learn. They need to know how hard they can bite. They learn this by biting their brothers and sisters at a young age. If they bite too hard there will be a reaction. A puppy also uses its teeth to examine objects.
Biting behaviour puppy
So, pups discover the world with their teeth. This explains the biting behaviour of your puppy but still doesn't make it any more fun. In order to get biting under control, a puppy needs to know the limits of his biting behaviour and the consequences of biting. Pups learn from this. In their litter, a brother or sister runs away if they bite too hard. This can also be used in the 'game' with people. You have to teach your puppy how hard he can bite and when it is too painful.
Tackling biting behaviour
What you especially want to achieve is that your puppy learns how hard he can bite and what he can bite into. Biting is part of the dog life. A dog only has his front legs and teeth to use in its defence. In case of emergency, a dog must be able to bite. You only want to learn a kind of safety mechanism by teaching your dog how hard he can bite. The damage by biting, in this case, will be less major and dosed. If your pup learns to never bite in anything, he will not learn with what force he can make something clear and he will possibly bite hard at the moment that this happens from pain or fright reaction.
How do you stop your pup from biting?
If you bite too hard, you can say something like "ouch!", stop playing and walk away. If you consistently implement this, your pup learns when it bites too hard. He also learns that the game stops when he does this, and learn that biting behaviour does not benefit him. You can then apply this consequence to less and less hard biting until you reach the 'bite strength' that is acceptable, i.e. almost no pressure with the teeth on your skin. In addition, you must ensure that you always have sufficient alternatives in the form of toys, which you can easily reach and in which your pup is allowed to bite. The toy must be big enough so that your pup can bite into it without touching your hands. If your pup bites less hard, make sure you can give him an alternative that he can bite into.
It can help to classify the bite strength in degrees, for example, 4 for very hard (until bleeding) 3 for hard biting but the skin remaining intact, 2 for firm pressure and 1 for almost no pressure with the teeth on your skin. At first, you only react with 'ouch!' on bite strength 4 and for the other strengths, you give an alternative. After a few days, you will also say 'ouch' at bite strength 3, later at 2, so that your pup will only bite with bite strength 1. If you are consistent in this, you will notice that within 2-3 weeks, your pup will bite softer. It is important that all family members participate in this! Otherwise, your pup does not understand what the intention of this new rule is.
It's not working! Now what?
For some puppies the game of quitting and walking away is not enough to break the behaviour. Puppies are often so excited that they come after you and bite in your pants or shoes. In this case, a time-out is needed. This is a short period of 1-2 minutes during which your puppy can calm down. This can be achieved by using puppy gates or a dog crate. Calmly place your dog in the crate without getting angry or upset.
My puppy bites my hands when he wants to play
If your puppy comes to you and bites your hands, he often wants to challenge you to play. This may be because he is bored. It is important that you do not push your dog away or speak to him. He has achieved what he came for, which is attention! At that moment it is best to ignore your pup and walk out of the room. Close the door or use the stair gate again for a time-out. Then play with your pup if he is quiet. If this behaviour occurs more often, think about whether you spend enough time on your pup and whether your pup has enough (challenging) alternatives to play with.
Almost all puppies have a moment that they go crazy. This can vary to running wild and playing to wanting to bite into anything and not reacting to a correction. This is usually between 4pm and 7pm when there is more activity in the house, as it's the end of the day and the whole family is home. As with small children, this can be due to fatigue and too many stimuli in one day. The day is long and not all puppies sleep enough during the day. At this moment put your puppy in his crate with a KONG Puppy or chew toy. This way you give your pup something to react on and you will often see that your pup falls asleep quickly.
What shouldn't you do?
Don't punish your puppy for biting. He is learning and this does not have to be accompanied by pain, for example by covering the puppy's nose or tapping the nose. Don't play rough games with your puppy if he hasn't learned how hard he can bite. Because of the excitement, he can bite so hard that even wounds occur. Give your pup also special care if he is calm and sweet and preferably not if he is excited. Your pup will experience differently that his excited behaviour leads to the attention of his owner. Preferably don't let children play with your puppy without supervision. They can not yet indicate well when something is too hard. In addition, let them play calmly with your pup. Wild play with wild movements provokes your puppy's hunting instincts. Biting is part of that.
Last but not least...
- Try to remain consistent when teaching your puppy how hard he can bite.
- Provide suitable toys as an alternative, large enough for your puppy to bite without touching your hands.
- If your pup keeps biting objects, first distract your pup and then offer him his own toy.
- Don't bring your puppy into stressful or wild situations where your pup is unable to control himself.