How to Stop Your Furry Puppy Biting

A young beagle mix puppy biting a woman's pant leg.

Tired of regular puppy nipping and biting? Those needle-sharp furry puppy teeth can stretch quite a bit, injuring your hands or shredding your clothes. Teaching your puppy not to bite is easier than you may think, but it does need time, tolerance, and consistency. When done right, your furry puppy will understand what’s okay to put their mouth on and what isn’t as they go via their nipping stage.

Why Do Your Furry Puppies Bite?

Nipping, mouthing, and biting are expected and natural furry puppy behaviors that occur for different reasons.

  • Teething

During the teething procedure, puppies grow to nip and bite more than normal, as the new teeth going through their gums are causing pain. To help reduce any pain, they tend to bite and chew.

  • Exploring

Without thumbs to hold things in the environment, a dog depends on its mouth to study things out.

  • Play

If you’ve ever watched your furry puppies play together, you’ll see that they use their jaws quite a lot. They’ll bite at legs, bite at scruffs, or play the rather fun “bitey face” game. Without consistent management and training, a furry puppy will have a hard time understanding that playing with you is different than playing with another dog. This mouthy play with each other is important for pups to understand bite inhibition — how hard can they “bite” another dog without harming. 

  • Breed Susceptibility

Specific breeds of dogs use their mouths more than other dogs because it was a piece of the job we bred them to do. For example, specific types of herding breeds nip at heels to drive livestock, such as Australian Cattle Dogs or Australian Shepherds. You may see these breeds attempting to herd you, your children, or other pets by nipping at your feet or legs. Retrievers can also be better predisposed to mouthiness, as they want to catch and hold items in their mouths. 

  • Overstimulation

If a lot is moving on around them, many puppies get overwhelmed and will chase, nip, or bite at fast-moving hands or arms. In this case, doggies often just need some peaceful time to relax or a nap!

When Does A Furry Puppy Stop Biting?

  • If you are constant with working and training puppy nipping, most puppies grow out of their biting phase when they finish teething and have all their grown-up teeth — around 7 months old. But as noted above, some dog breeds have a strong nipping instinct and need consistent direction and training throughout adolescence and into early adulthood. 

How to Teach A Puppy Not To Bite 

Make Sure Your Puppy Has Lots of Suitable Chews and Tug Toys

  • Maintain a few different kinds of chews and toys freely unrestricted for your puppy to chew on. To keep these from getting boring for your pup, switch them out intermittently with other choices. Collect a few of your puppy’s favorite tug or squeaky toys within easy reach for you so you can switch them out when your puppy starts to get extra nippy.

Interrupt Nipping and Biting

  • If your furry puppy puts teeth on the skin (or clothing), instantly freeze and say, “ouch!” Try not to jerk your hand away, as that fast action usually attracts a puppy to keep playing. If your puppy backs off and stops biting, calmly compliment them. You then have the option to continue petting or playing, or, if your puppy seems too excited and will go back to nipping instantly, give them a chew or toy to enjoy by themselves in their crate or dog elevated bed.
  • This method is just like how your pup learns bite inhibition with other puppies. Bite too hard — or at all, in the case of playing with people — and the fun stops. If a furry puppy keeps their teeth off of you, play or petting continues. It’s all about being compatible with your support and results so your puppy can learn good habits.

Redirect Your Puppy’s Nipping

  • If your furry puppy starts running for your hands or clothing, grab one of the special toys or chews you’ve collected and redirect their attention to that. If they’re chewing or chasing the toy, they aren’t chewing or chasing you.

It’s best to avoid shouting, hitting, or pushing your puppy away when they start nipping or biting. Some puppies will get confused and think you’re still trying to play if you move them away, which can just amp up the nipping power. And the last thing you want is your furry puppy to associate you with something dangerous or painful. If you’re worried that your furry puppy’s biting is bordering on aggression or related to resource guarding, it’s important to connect with a certified professional dog trainer as soon as possible to address it. 

  • Above all, the item to remember for puppy nipping is to divert, redirect, redirect! If you’re continuously giving your puppy something appropriate to bite and chew on, they’re less likely to want to go after your hands. And as they grow and finish teething, you’ll have made up strong mouth manners and good habits.

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