People often want to stop puppy biting without realizing it’s an essential part of their dog’s development. If your puppy doesn’t bite, he can never learn bite inhibition and may develop behavior problems as an adult. Biting shouldn’t be stopped, but it can be controlled with some simple techniques to teach your puppy how and when to bite.
Practice play biting
The first step in learning how to stop a puppy from biting is to practice play biting. The idea is to give your puppy feedback when he bites so he knows when it’s too hard. Then you can work to eliminate bite pressure altogether. The stages of feedback are:
Stage 1: Teaching Bite Pressure
Begin to play with your pup and allow him to bite your hands. When you feel he has bitten you too hard, say “Ouch!” to stop the biting. If he continues to bite too hard, say “Ouch!” again, leave the room abruptly, and shut the door behind you. Allow your puppy a minute or two to reflect on what he did. Then return to the room and begin playing. Before your puppy reaches three months of age he should be aware of how sensitive people are to puppy biting.
Stage 2: Eliminating Bite Pressure
Begin to play with your puppy as before. His bites shouldn’t hurt at this point, so wait for one that seems harder than the rest and say “Ouch!” as if it really did hurt. Repeat this until your puppy’s bite pressure is completely eliminated. He should reach this point by the time he’s four to five months old.
Stop puppy biting on command
Once your pup knows how to bite softly, you can stop him from biting using the Off command.
Hand-feed to teach Off and Take It
Feed your puppy meals by giving him a few pieces of food at time from your hand. After he eats several pieces, hold one firmly between your fingers and thumb so he’s unable to get it away. When he sniffs and licks at the food say “Off!”. Your puppy will eventually give up trying to get the food, but the moment he pulls away say “Take It” and offer the piece by letting it fall into your open palm. Repeat this several times. Once your puppy understands the commands, wait longer before offering the piece of food and give him praise while he waits. Hand-feeding your puppy this way will keep his mouth soft when biting and teach him the meaning of Off.
Use Off to stop biting
Once he learns the meaning of Off, you can stop him from biting by using this command. Let your puppy start to bite you and then say “Off!”. Offer him a treat if he stops biting. If he doesn’t, angrily leave the room and shut the door. Wait a few minutes before coming back, but don’t resume the training when you return. Give your puppy a chew toy instead and try again later. It’s best to practice the Off command several times in short sessions. Once your pup has the idea, try the command without offering a treat as a reward.
Tips and advice
Keep the following in mind when trying to control or stop puppy biting:
Don’t let your puppy bite your clothes
If he bites your pants, shirt, or shoes, you can’t tell when your puppy’s biting too hard. Only allow him to bite your hands.
Allow biting only during play biting sessions
Practice play biting regularly as described above. Allow your pup to bite or mouth you only during these sessions and make sure he stops when you ask.
Punishment doesn’t stop a puppy from biting
Your puppy will only stop biting the person who punished him and direct his behavior at someone who’s more tolerant.
Even though it’s an important habit for your puppy to develop, biting can seem bothersome at times. But, by practicing play biting and teaching the Off command, you can bring it under control and allow it on your own terms.