“Ouch! Please stop biting me!”
Yep, we get it! A puppy’s teeth hurt! Those little milk teeth are thin, razor sharp and break skin with very little effort.
Have you noticed that your puppy is biting, growling, and behaving in a way that not only is frustrating, but also seems to be just too much? It can feel disheartening when your lovely, adorable puppy suddenly becomes a totally wild, furry land shark, growling, and frantically racing around like a nipping nightmare!
You might think it’s aggressive puppy biting, or worry that your puppy’s personality is changing (and not for the better) and you might be feeling frustrated, confused – and sore! But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Rest assured, puppy biting is a completely normal part of their development, and with the strategies and solutions in this blog, we just know you’ll be on your way to overcoming this common behaviour and enjoying life with a cool, calm and collected pup by your side in no time!
Why is My Puppy Biting Me?
Puppy biting is a completely normal behaviour – so that’s good news to get started on, right?!
For a puppy, biting serves several purposes during their development and is actually their way of navigating and learning about the world around them.
Puppies familiarise themselves with their environment and explore the world around them through tasting and mouthing objects, helping them understand what is safe to chew on and the different textures they encounter.
Additionally, puppies may bite when they are teething, as the discomfort prompts them to seek relief by chewing.
It’s crucial to remember that your puppy is a baby animal and they don’t know their behaviour is having a negative impact on you, their amazing, loving owner.
The Peak Biting Phase:
Between the ages of 12-16 weeks, puppies may experience a peak in biting tendencies, which coincides with their teething stage.
During this time, puppies lose their milk teeth and grow their permanent teeth, which can cause discomfort and irritability.
It’s important to remain patient and understanding during this phase, as your puppy is responding to their discomfort – and communicating it – in the only way they know how. We’ve got some super Tips and Tricks to Tame Your Biting Puppy! over on our podcast!
How to Overcome Puppy Biting
When it comes to biting puppies, you might think the Witching Hour is unavoidable and that aggressive puppy biting is a struggle that can’t be solved!
At absoluteDOGS, we can say with complete certainty that there is hope! We’ve put together 5 of our best and most important top tips, tricks and troubleshooting hacks for you to help you overcome your puppy’s biting struggles!
TIP #1: CALMNESS IS KING!
Help your puppy learn self-control by engaging in games that emphasise calmness and teach them to make better decisions, even when they are feeling excited, over-aroused and overstimulated!
If your puppy learns how to regulate their emotions and how to be calm even when the witching hour is calling their name, they can overcome almost any struggle.
Calmness is powerful and is one of the most important skills for any dog to learn as they navigate life, and instilling this skill in your puppy at the very beginning will help you set them up for a lifetime of success!
TIP #2: GIVE THEM A HEALTHY CHEWING OUTLET
From chewing and biting, sniffing, shredding and licking, giving your puppy ample opportunity to practise these behaviours in appropriate ways each day will satisfy their instincts, soothe any teething troubles and also provide the added benefit of calming enrichment too which exercises their brain!
It’s important to provide your puppy with appropriate chews, toys and enrichment outlets for their natural chewing instincts. Different textures, temperatures and types of toys can help soothe their gums during the teething process too.
Want to find out how you can include more chewing/biting outlets and enrichment opportunities for your puppy each day? Check out our Ditch the Bowl eBook for all our best solutions and strategies!
TIP #3: REST FOR SUCCESS
Puppies require ample sleep, usually around 17-20 hours a day. Ensure your puppy has a quiet and comfortable place to relax and nap undisturbed. A crate or designated puppy-proofed area can provide them with a safe space for quality sleep. Does your puppy struggle with Crates and Spaces? We’ve got some Crate Solutions and Great Strategies!
TIP #4: MANAGEMENT IS YOUR FRIEND!
Use management strategies such as calm time and rest in a crate, ex-pen, or puppy-proofed space to prevent rehearsal of biting and wild behaviour.
Limit your puppy’s access to you and their environment when they are overstimulated or prone to making poor decisions so that you can set them up for success and only allow them to rehearse the good behaviour you DO want to see!
By limiting how often your puppy gets to rehearse inappropriate behaviours, you are establishing amazing habits that your puppy will continue to have as they grow, develop, and mature as your best friend and companion!
TIP #5: HOW TO STOP YOUR PUPPY BITING YOU!
When it comes to stopping puppy biting in the moment, it’s crucial to be prepared and implement all the strategies and management we talked about above.
However, there may still be moments where biting occurs despite your efforts. To interrupt a puppy’s biting behaviour, one effective method is to end play or high-energy activities.
Puppies often seek social interaction and may not yet understand the rules of engagement. In such cases, gently remove them from the situation and guide them to their safe and calm space.
This provides them with an opportunity for independent self-regulation, as discussed in the section on providing healthy outlets. Another effective approach is to give your puppy an opportunity for a nap.
Puppies can easily become frustrated, overwhelmed, and overstimulated, and fatigue exacerbates these feelings. Allowing your puppy to rest and recharge through frequent naps is essential.
Is My Puppy Aggressive?
Not at all! This is such a common misconception and there are actually many reasons that a puppy may choose to bite something (including you!):
– Lack of sleep
– Too much freedom/access
– Genetic predisposition
– Absence of a healthy outlet
While living with a biting, nipping, crazy puppy may be frustrating and painful, it’s important to recognise that your puppy is, in fact, still just a baby trying to figure out their surroundings – and they are still learning to control their innate instincts and emotions.
Understanding this can help you approach your puppy’s biting behaviour with patience and kindness – and feel assured that your puppy is not aggressive, nor do they have any ill feelings toward you!
If you’re worried about how your puppy feels about you – or anyone in your family – pop over and listen to our My Dog Hates Me podcast episode where we talk about one KEY way you can improve your relationship with your dog (or puppy)!
Dealing with puppy biting can be challenging, but remember that it’s a normal part of their development. By understanding the reasons behind the behaviour and implementing effective strategies, you can guide your puppy towards better habits and overcome this phase.
Don’t forget to enjoy the journey of raising your perfect little pup, savour the good times and make sure you celebrate the amazing progress you make with them along their journey into adolescence and adulthood!
Want to learn even more Secrets to Raising Your Puppy? We’ve got an awesome set of FREE eBooks for you. Just hit that link!