Having to deal with play biting is familiar to anyone with a puppy that hasn’t been taught yet to stop biting. Puppies are rambunctious and free spirited. Even adult dogs who retain their childlike spirit can be frivolous in nature, preferring to rough house, tumble, and stumble their way through this world. It is only natural that in their efforts to enjoy the day they treat play with their human companions like they would their litter mates.
It is not necessarily as though the play biting is done negatively, and us humans can usually tell. Regardless though, for the human its usually not an enjoyable experience.
Every pet parent is responsible for and needs to learn how to stop play biting. It may not seem like a problem when a puppy is young but when it grows up and continues to bite this can become a serious issue. Strangers are more than uncomfortable around a dog who play bites and children are at risk of serious injury. All dogs need to learn that when it comes to interactions with humans, biting is a no no.
Stop Play Biting using the Natural Advantage
When puppies are playing together, they use their mouths but they don’t usually bite to hard. When one does, the other will let out a loud “yelp” and they both stop playing for a few seconds. We can use this to our advantage by doing the same thing.
How to stop play biting:
1. When your puppy bites you, try to let out a loud cry like a puppy would, or even a loud “ow!” or “no”. Do not get angry, just be assertive. Stop playing with them for a few seconds.
2. Do this every time and it will teach them that no bites are the proper way to play. If your puppy doesn’t stop biting you, and you continue the play, you teach them that it is ok.
3. If the behavior does not stop after trying this a few times, take a time out from playing altogether.
Your ultimate goal here is to teach them that biting hard is not ok, by giving the loud “yelp” like another puppy would do. Then you show them that when they do that, you won’t play with them. The combination teaches that gentle play with humans is the only way to play. They grasp this easily because it is the way their litter would have played as well.
Use a toy to distract a puppy BEFORE they bite you, when you can tell they are about to. It is not difficult to tell when they are about to. Sometimes puppies get a burst of energy that results in non-stop attempts at play biting you. Offering a toy to play with can redirect their attention to biting the toy, which is allowed. Keep one close by for those moments.
Stop Puppy Biting Right Away
Don’t wait until your puppy is 4 months old to train against this behavior. It becomes more difficult the longer you wait and the more developed a habit unchecked is. They will likely be biting you at 7 weeks, so employ the technique of yelping just like a playmate would. It will inhibit the act, and create a great puppy. As with all training it takes time to totally get rid of any bad habits, but the time is worth it.