No matter how cute your new puppy or dog may be, if it is chewing and biting on you, your family members and guests - he or she probably doesn't seem quite as cute. In fact, if the pup's chewing and biting habits are not controlled, it might actually hurt someone, or destroy the contents of your home.
Dog training is necessary to teach some puppies appropriate chewing and biting behaviors.
Here's how to train your dog or puppy not to bite:
- First, you have to understand that many puppies that have a biting problem were taken from their mother too soon, so it's not always a case of aggression. The puppy may have just missed out on the lessons that a mother dog and litter mates would have provided, teaching each other when the chewing and biting have gone too far.
When those sharp, little teeth start coming in and the pup nips the mother dog, she will usually leave the area. This makes the pup question its actions. When the pup bites its litter mates too hard, the action is usually met with a loud yelp that startles the biting pup. If the pup continues its wicked ways, the other pups will usually nip him harder. It becomes a lesson they do not forget.
- Second, you should purchase chew toys for your puppy to divert its attention away from biting and nipping. Buy something that is mentally challenging to the pup. If it is not challenging enough, biting on your nose or the chair legs in your dining room may continue. There are an assortment of toys these days from rawhide and cow hooves to antlers and dried sweet potatoes.
Many pet owners who have problems with their puppy's chewing habits purchase toys that have a treat inside of them. A dog's sense of smell will keep it chewing on the toy all afternoon in order to reach the yummy treat inside. Once the dog understands that there are no benefits to biting on you, it will start looking for favored chew toys. This is a good way of focusing the dog on the lesson that the only thing to bite are toys. Be sure to provide supervision for a puppy just in case it chokes.
- Third, when the pup bites you, handle it like you are either one of its littermates or mother. Make a noise communicating to the pup that you are hurt. Even if the puppy is only chewing on your shoestrings or pajama bottoms, open up your mouth and make a loud yelp or “ouch,” letting the puppy know through the tone of your voice that the bite caused you some pain. Then, stop playing and ignore the puppy by turning away.
If that doesn't teach it not to bite or nip, leave the room just like the mother dog would. If the puppy simply follows you through the house biting at your heels, let out a yelp and then place it in a crate. Do not hold a grudge or keep the puppy locked up too long. A simple timeout should work. Never take the offending puppy out of the crate if it is whining. Wait until it is quiet and behaving. This will teach your dog that good behavior gets rewarded.
- Lastly, at the moment when your dog begins to bite or nip, distract it quickly by asking it to sit. Once it is seated, gently hold the front of the dog’s nose and tap it once saying “bad dog” in a stern voice. If you do this swiftly and properly, you will realize that the tap is not the punishment. It is just a way to gently to get its attention and re-focus it to stop the unwanted behavior. Don’t ever scream; a stern tone should be enough. In time, with consistency, your dog will understand and stop the behavior.
Other Tips to Try
Remember, you might be giving your dog mixed signals if you are trying to train it not to nip and bite yet continue to play games that encourage this type of behavior. Games like tug-of-war with a rope or stick may be doing just the opposite of what you want to teach. Wrestling with your dog may seem like fun but when things get rough or out of hand, you may find yourself punishing the dog for behaviors you just encouraged. Playing chase with your dog teaches it that you are prey while encouraging nipping and biting. Instead, try games like fetch where you can teach your dog to drop the ball or rope and allow you to throw it again and again. These games keep you in control and the authority figure in the dog’s eyes.
Teaching an older dog not to bite can be a little trickier. Bad habits are hard to break without a lot of time and patience. Praise and reward, such as a scratch under the chin, a treat or a pat on the head is generally the key. Again, never hit, kick, or scream at your dog since this type of punishment will not teach a dog to behave. It will only make them more fearful of you … the one they want to trust. Only use positive reinforcement for any good behavior they exhibit. The key is being consistent, especially if more than one person in the family is doing this type of training.
If you follow these tips, you should be well on your way to having a puppy that doesn't chew, nibble or bite on you. And remember, it's always good to spend some extra time learning about dog behavior and how you can use it to train your pet.