Training Puppies Not to Bite

By Melanie Fischer

Training Puppies Not to Bite

Puppies are cute, puppies are soft, and puppies are playful. With all of their adorable characteristics, it’s hard to imagine that puppies can cause any trouble at all! However, most puppies are notorious for being chewers and biters. They do not do this because they are mean, but they do it because this is how they play. Training puppies not to bite is a job that most puppy owners must undertake so that the puppies learn that biting is not acceptable behavior.

Puppy bites are not normally considered the same as bites from an adult dog. Puppies normally bite because they are playing, and adult dogs normally bite because they are either being aggressive or protective. Training puppies not to bite is an essential part of the growth and development process. In the best case scenario, puppies should be trained to not bite by the time they are four months old.

Why Puppies Bite

Puppies do not bite themselves, other dogs, or even humans out of spite or to be mean. They don’t bite because they’ve been taken away from their mother or because they are trying to be aggressive. In most circumstances, puppies bite because it is an instinctual method of playing with their liter mates. When puppies turn about a month old, they begin to interact with their brothers and sisters, and this normally involves nudging each other, chasing each other, and biting each other. However, the biting is not malicious and hardly ever involves broken skin. When puppies are taken from their liter and placed into homes with humans, puppies continue the method of playing that they already know, which includes biting.

Another reason that puppies bite is due to teething. It’s easier to understand this when thinking of human babies. At a few months of age, human babies begin to experience the pain and discomfort of teething. To soothe the pain, babies will chew on their hands, their feet and their toys. Bearing down on the gums relieves the pain of teething. Puppies, like human babies, also go through the teething process. By chewing on anything hard, they are provided with the same sort of comfort that human babies feel while chewing on things to make their gums feel better.

Puppy Teeth are Sharp

Training puppies not to bite is incredibly important not just because puppies need to be taught appropriate behavior, but also because the puppies' “baby” teeth are incredibly sharp. Even the slightest nip, gnaw or scratch on the skin can cause severe pain!

The sharpness of puppies' teeth can scare a small child, especially a child that does not have a pet. Many children do not understand that puppies bite as an attempt to play. Being nipped by a puppy can cause a child to become intensely afraid of dogs, which is something that most dog owners do not want to see happen.

Socialize the Puppy

One of the most effective ways to train a puppy not to bite is to allow him to socialize with other dogs on a regular basis. Dogs are pack animals-they need to be around other dogs so they can learn how to behave in a group. Normally, in a group setting, when a puppy continues to bite or horseplay with older dogs, the older dogs will stop the puppy's behavior by growling or putting the puppy in a submissive position. This teaches the puppy when it is ok to play bite, and when “enough is enough.”

When a puppy is able to play with other puppies, they can wrestle, chase, and bite each other. This behavior is acceptable-because it is what puppies do naturally. A play date with other puppies can cut down on biting problems and can also cause a puppy to be much less destructive with furniture and other items in the home.

Socializing a puppy is a form of training. Young puppies that are used to being near other dogs and humans of all ages normally grow up less aggressive and less afraid of most situations.

Positive Reinforcement

Do humans react well to being hit or punched when they do something wrong? The answer to this is obviously no. The same is true for a puppy. Hitting, punching or slapping is not an effective way of training a puppy not to bite.

A puppy’s love for his owner is unconditional. When a puppy instinctually bites his owner and the owner reacts by punching the puppy, the puppy has no way of effectively learning from this type of reaction.

The most effective way to train a puppy not to bite is to respect him, trust him, and reward him for good behavior. A puppy is usually easily motivated by food, treats, praise, or pats on the head. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to training a puppy. A puppy is born with a true desire to please his owners, and a puppy lives to be loved. By using a training program that is filled with chances for the puppies to succeed, as opposed to being reprimanded and hurt, it is much easier to train a puppy not to bite.
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