How can I get my puppy to stop biting?
Original Question: We got Mocha when he was 6 weeks old and we notice he tends to play bite a lot. He is 3 months now and his biting has gotten worse. I am not sure how to teach him not to bite. Every time he bites we would say “ouch” but that doesn’t work and he would just bark. The second method we tried was to hold his mouth and tell him “no biting” but that only stopped him for a couple minutes and then he would start biting all over again. Every time we tell him “bad dog” or “no” he tends to bark back at us. I have 2 kids ages 10 and 8 and he made them cry a few time because of it. He has toys to play with and we bring him out in our backyard. Also, I want to add my husband disciplined Mocha by spanking him on the butt when he’s being naughty. So I notice Mocha is somewhat nervous when he see us raise our hands when we try to pet him sometimes. Since he’s not fully vaccinated yet we haven’t really brought him out to socialize with other pets or people. How can I help him with his biting behaviour? - Benita
Thanks for your question.
There are a couple of ways that we can stop biting in puppies. The most important thing is to be consistent and that everyone in the family does the same thing. Consistency is key so that the puppy gets the same idea from whoever’s hand they’re biting.
If you’re sending mixed messages to any dog whether it be a puppy or not, it can get very confusing for them. You are definitely doing the right thing by saying ouch or no loudly, but at this time all play needs to stop and you should ignore the puppy for a few minutes. So completely ignore them, turn your back, put the toy down and play stops. Now, if the puppy continues to bite, bark, or make a fuss as soon as you interact with them again they’re biting, instead of just shouting out or saying no, remove them from that area. They need to learn that if they bite, then play stops. So just pick them up, take them to another room and leave them in there by themselves without any toys (they’re going to be bored). This only needs to be for a few minutes. They will learn that if they bite, life gets very boring. The important thing is that you need to do that straight away so you can’t let them bite you and then a minute or a couple of minutes later you put them in another room because they’re not going to make that association. So it’s very important that when something happens, it has a response straight away.
I would also suggest you stop playing any tugging games or games where you’re putting your hand in their mouth if that’s what you’re doing as this again only encourages biting in those situations and it’s just sending mixed messages to a puppy. I strongly advise you avoid any really negative punishment like spanking. It’s much more likely to result in a fearful dog who doesn’t understand the link between punishment and the unwanted behaviour and the last thing you want is a dog who is scared of you because they’re worried that they’re going to get punished or hit.
And then my final point would be if you’re still struggling, if biting is still happening, you don’t seem to be getting anywhere then consult a dog trainer or a behaviourist or talk to your vet as they should be able to give you some other strategies to help stop the biting.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Alex Avery
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