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How to Stop a Puppy From Biting

Updated on August 4, 2016

We'll look at why a puppy feels he needs to bite. What are the reasons behind it? Is it natural or learned? What are some of the things you need to know when training a puppy? Finally, we'll look at ways the average pet owner can learn how to stop a puppy from biting.

Why a Puppy Bites

Biting has several motivations. Seemingly aggressive biting is a natural reaction that your puppy has when he feels pushed to his limits and believes he has no other course of action to communicate his feelings. It's usually due to fear or extreme timidity, and this cause is much more common than outright aggression. If your dog is under-socialized, he can see people and other dogs as threatening. In rescue or adopted dogs, biting can come from abuse, neglect, or programming from a previous owner.

Biting can also occur due to your dog's natural guarding instinct when guarding pups, food, or it's perceived territory. It can also come from hormones, though this biting usually happens from one dog to another and doesn't normally transfer to humans. If your dog chases cats, rabbits, squirrels, or other animals he sees as prey, predatory biting may occur, though again, this is usually between the two animals and rarely occurs between dog and human. In her book The Perfect Puppy, author Gwen Bailey, says:

"Predatory or chase aggression occurs when a dog finds an outlet for its desire to chase by running after unsuitable moving objects. The "prey" can be cats, sheep, ducks, horses, rabbits, or even small dogs."

It should be taken into account that some dogs are genetically more likely to bite, and biting can also stem from disease or pain.

How to Stop a Puppy From Biting

Considering the causes of biting, the first thing to do is to calm and de-stress the animal. Calming jackets and collars, or tablets, and sprays, such as Burts Bees Calming Spray, can be useful to soothe the chronically nervous dog. For something stronger, a visit to the vet may be in order. Your puppy should be properly socialized to reduce his fear of people.

For the younger puppy, you can gently hold his mouth closed to prevent biting as it happens. This is a tactic his doggie mother would use, and it will get the message across. If puppy bites, give a sharp, "Ouch!" designed to startle the animal. If biting persists, refuse to continue to play.

Some Training Tips

  • Firstly, take a zero-tolerance policy towards biting. It's never good for the puppy or his people and can lead to a dangerous dog or even legal repercussions as the dog gets older.
  • Never wrestle with your puppy using your bare hands. Switch to a good tug toy instead.
  • Never yell at your puppy or "spank" him. Yelling or hitting your dog will only create fear and pain and will perpetuate biting.

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