Teach your puppy that teeth and skin just don't
It's normal and even cute when your puppy nibbles and even
lunges at your hand. Since your puppy has been exposed to only
other puppies in the litter who naturally play with mouthing and
biting, it would make perfect sense why he would assume that
playing with you wouldn't be different. But as they grow and their
bodies become stronger, what was once cute nibbling eventually
turns into uncomfortable or even dangerous rough playing bites.
Your dog has to learn that he should take treats gently from
your hand and also that any game involving humans don't get toothy.
But we're lucky because dogs already know this.
Watch a little puppy play with his little mates when he's still
with his mom: if one puppy gets a little bit bity, the one that's
been bitten will go "Ouch!". And the game will stop
completely. So puppies learn very early that when teeth come out,
play finishes. So we need to teach them that it's exactly the same
thing with humans.
How to stop puppy biting: training tips
First of all take a treat, hold it in your hand and wrap your
fingers around it and no matter how much your dog tries to get at
it, bite your hand or paw at your hand you mustn't let him have it.
What you have to wait for is the minute that his nose comes away
from your hand. That's what you're rewarding him for. He needs to
know that he's never ever going to get a treat by biting your
The only way he's going to get it is to stop doing it and back
away from the hand a bit. That way he knows that biting and
grabbing a hand is never going to get him a treat. And it's also a
very good way to give a treat to a dog that you've never met
before. Wrap the treat in your hand and then open your fingers
gently and let the dog have it.
Since biting is an
unacceptable type of play with you, it's important to teach your
dog how to play with toys instead of your hand. Playing is a
healthy natural activity that helps build a bond between you and
your puppy. Before teaching your puppy not to bite it's important
to teach him to decrease bite pressure.
When you're playing with toys it's the same thing: his teeth
mustn't ever touch your hand. If they do you say "Ouch!", kind of
the same way his little mates would, and turn away from him. So if
you feel his teeth on your hand at all you let him know with a
little "Ouh!", turn away and let the game stops for a few seconds.
Make sure to speak up every time he bites too hard so that your
puppy can learn your threshold for what is acceptable and what
isn't. Then go back and play again but he has to remember not to
use his teeth and to be more careful next time.
What's really important is that everybody in the family
practices this, not just you. Anyone who plays with the dog has to
teach him that teeth and skin don't mix !
For more information and advice to stop puppy biting and other
unwanted behaviour in the most dog-friendly way, you can find a
puppy foundation course with the Good Citizen Dog Training