Biting and chewing hands, limbs, and clothes can be very adorable when your puppy is only a few weeks old.
But the novelty soon wears off when he’s three or four months old – and just keeps getting bigger and bigger …
These are all completely natural puppy behaviors and a part of his exploration games, but it’s up to us to show him what is and is not available to chew.
Tug toys and daddy’s slippers – keep going. Soft fleshy human hands – definitely not.
Luckily, here are a few tips to help you stop your pup from biting, nibbling, and mouthing.
Be a teacher and playmate
Until now, your pup has only had its mother and littermates to play around with, so you and your family will have to take on the roles of teachers and playmates.
Without this, your puppy will continue whatever behaviors it deems acceptable into adulthood – but now with big, strong, and sharp adult teeth.
The first time you bring your puppy home, teach them the attitude that you want to see right away.
Remember, he will only behave as he was taught in his early weeks of life. So gently teach your pup to behave appropriately.
This means encouraging him to do the things he is supposed to do with a reward – usually a tasty treat – so that this becomes his new default behavior.
This can also help build a bond between you and your pup and encourage good habits from the get-go.
It should go without saying that you never verbally or physically punish your pup. Hitting or hitting for playful activities can actually make him more aggressive.
They will make him fear you, it will damage your relationship and it will certainly not have the desired effect.
Puppies in a litter play together with a lot of rough and tumble and play-biting.
Your teeth are super sharp, but the jaws are weak. While the bites definitely hurt, they don’t actually cause injury.
If one is left out, the other pups or their mother will stop playing with them and teach a lesson on how to interact with others.
The first time your handsome puppy comes home with you, he’ll need to be taught pretty quickly that games with humans don’t involve teeth.
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So don’t play rough games or wave your fingers or toes in your pup’s face – this is just a request to be bitten.
Instead of wrestling your hands, encourage non-contact games like fetch and tug of war.
Once he’s proven he’s safe to play, keep a few toys in your pocket or keep them handy.
All interactions with your hands should be calming and gentle – stroking, rubbing your ears, scratching your back, and so on.
Hey your hands are good things and definitely not dog chewing.
With all said and done, your pup will still occasionally choke you down, but won’t lose his temper and risk straining the relationship.
If it was a one-of-a-kind incident, ignore it and keep playing.
If it happens again right away, stop the game and turn away for ten seconds so he knows the fun will end when he uses his teeth.
When you return to the game, bring a toy that your pup can bite instead.
If the game continues to bite, remove yourself from the game completely so your puppy knows that if he bites you will actually stop the fun and take away your presence as well.
Wait about 60 seconds, then come back and keep things light and carry on as before.
He’ll soon find out that he really can’t use teeth when he wants to play with you.
Get on the same page
Make sure the whole family is following the same approach so that if one person lets him bite and the other doesn’t, your puppy doesn’t get confused.
Monitor all interactions between your children and the puppy to make sure things don’t get too loud and to prevent mishaps.
You might be surprised to learn puppies that teething, like human babies, from 12 weeks to around six months.
This leads to very sore gums and teeth and the need to chew more than usual.
So, get safe toys to gnaw on or puppy chew toys to help ease the discomfort and distract him from chewing hands or furniture.
Tired and emotional
Sometimes play bites occur because your puppy is frustrated, has too much energy, or is too tired.
So make sure he enjoys lots of positive interactions, problem-solving games, and an undisturbed good quality sleep.
Offer them plenty of opportunities to play with other puppies and with friendly, vaccinated adult dogs.
Getting to know dog friends is very important to his or her development – and if he uses a lot of energy playing with other puppies, he will be less likely to get rough with you.
With regular reward-based training, your pup will quickly learn that playing with people should be gentle and toothless.
You want to teach your pup to play gently, rather than not at all, and to create a strong bond between your dog and his beloved human family.