For puppies, biting is a natural behaviour that may subside by the time they are four months old. However, it is not guaranteed this problem will disappear on its own, so it is recommended that biting is discouraged from the start. Many owners view this behaviour as playful, but the puppy may also be testing what the pack leader (you) will tolerate.
What are the best ways to stop a snappy puppy? Just do what other dogs would do! Puppies first learn from their mother or litter mates that biting is inappropriate. When a puppy bites, the other dog may respond by giving a short sharp ‘yelp!’, withdrawing, growling or biting back. We all know that biting back is not the way to go! But there is plenty of merit in the other strategies. Let’s look at what you can do when your puppy bites you:
The short sharp yelp
A short, high pitched ‘ouch!’ or ‘yelp!’ will startle the dog into ceasing the biting. Make sure the yelp is high pitched but not too loud – the aim is to startle, not frighten, the puppy. All dogs instinctively recognise this sound as meaning it has caused another pain and it will immediately stop.
The growl or correction
A verbal correction such as ‘no!’ or a low guttural growl will give your puppy a clear message that biting is not tolerated.
Simply stop and withdraw the part of you that has been bitten. A concurrent growl or yelp will help reinforce the message.
There is also some other things you can do to prevent puppy growing into a snappy dog. They are:
Reinforce safe play
When puppy plays nicely, reward it with affection and treats.
Correct your puppy without using your hands
Some dogs grow up having had bad experiences with human hands because they were smacked as a puppy; they may bite hands as a way of protecting themselves. It is therefore important that when you are raising your puppy that you never smack her, otherwise she may grow up to be a ‘fear biter’. Use verbal corrections as discussed earlier.
Socialise your puppy
Introduce your puppy to visitors, people at dog parks and regular passers (like postal workers and meter readers) so they have many positive experiences with people. Let these people gently pat your puppy or give it a small treat. In this way, your dog does not come to fear people’s hands (and resort to biting to protect itself from pats). Before taking your puppy outside to socialise, ensure she has received all the relevant immunisations.
If these tips are used regularly and consistently, your puppy will realise that playing and socialising without biting is more fun and she will cease biting as a way to test your mettle or get attention.
If you found these tips useful, you might like to try out some other effective ways to deal with some other niggling puppy issues – click here for some useful information on raising a well-behaved puppy.
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