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Puppy Bite! - What To Do When Your Puppy Bites You

Updated on January 4, 2008

Puppies are sweet fuzzy bundles of joy. They are also mouths on legs. Many puppy owners soon find that the little sweetie they brought home from the breeders does little more than mouth them, the furniture, and anything it can get its sweet little teeth on. This is all very well and good, and to be somewhat expected, after all, you did bring a dog home, but what do you do when puppy actually bites YOU?

What to do will depend a lot on the age of the dog, and the reason for the bite. Play bites are common accidents, and while you should let the dog know it hurt you, punishment is generally unnecessary unless the biting continues. Always be careful around a puppy's sharp teeth, they can very easily catch on the skin and leave you a bleeding mess. For this reason, it is recommended that no matter how cute your puppy is, keep your face away from his when he is excited, trust me, this advice can save you a bleeding nose, cut lip and damage to the other facial protrusions that you might like to keep intact.

An aggressive bite is quite a difference matter however, and it is a habit that must be nipped in the bud before it becomes an ongoing problem and you end up afraid of your dog, or having to have it put to sleep.

It is worth noting at this point the 'dominance' issue. There is a prevalent school of thought that almost any doggie misbehavior is down to dominance. If the dog barks, it's because he's dominant, if he bites, he's dominant. Dominance can be a cause of bites, but it is not the end all. Overly submissive dogs can also bite out of fear if they are frightened, or the dog can simply be being obnoxious.

A few suggestions from the experts:

'The Alpha Roll' This involves rolling your puppy onto its back and holding it there until it submits ie, lies there quietly. Some people swear by this trick, others find that it whips the puppy up into more of a frenzy. The expert jury is very much out on this trick as well, some feel that it causes power struggles where there previously were none, others believe that it shows the dog you are 'pack leader'.

'The Submission Shake' This involves shaking the puppy by the scruff of the neck, personally this sounds like a great way to get bitten again and frighten the living hell out of your puppy, but some do it. Personally not recommended.

'Withdrawal/Time out' The most important thing to do is not to give the dog any further attention. Put him in his crate, a spare room, or anywhere else you can find a good spot for him to be alone. Alternatively simply ignore the dog, do not give him any attention, or treats, and don't allow him on his favorite spots, like the couch or the bed.

This is intended as a brief guide for dogs that may be a little rambunctious. A dog that regularly bites, growls, and is aggressive towards you needs training and professional help. Obedience school is always recommended for any dog, as it enables you to communicate more effectively with him, and helps to strengthen a bond of friendship and trust.

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    • profile image

      HARRI 

      5 years ago

      My 10 wk german shepard husky mix will not stip biting me I have been holding he mouth shut and saying NO but it does not seem to work. He has been with me 2 wks

    • profile image

      Angel 

      6 years ago

      I have 13 weeks old maltese shitzu and he wont stop biting me nd if i stop hime saying NO FIRMly he will bark at me :( please help me

    • profile image

      cynamans 

      6 years ago

      Great advice and really good hub. voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      kayleigh 

      6 years ago

      my 7 month old staffie chase my kids and grabs there ancles how do it stop this.

    • profile image

      TicTac 

      6 years ago

      IrishPeach - you obviously care about dogs enough to take on a 7 month old rescues I cannot understand why you would even consider taking back to the shelter! Surely you knew it may have some habitual or personality problems, and must have proven your commitment to taking on said dog to the shelter before they let you take her home! she need love, attention, and firm boundaries. In a good home she would have learnt this behaviour is not acceptable by the age of 7 months, but she wasn't in a good home. Give her the tlc she needs and be consistent with discipline and you will end up with a loving loyal dog to make you proud. I personally have used the "No!" and hold technique (pin her down for 10-20 secs until she submits) which seems to be working well, my 12 wk old pup thought she was the top dog - after only a couple days this technique stopped her biting almost completely, she still got some way to go but I can now enjoy a cuddle without fear!

    • profile image

      IrishPeach 

      6 years ago

      I rescued a 5 month old golden/collie cross. She is 7 months now and she has chewed her way through almost anything she can get her mouth on. She "mouths" (play bites) a lot. everyday, and, it's not getting any better no matter what I do. Today, she bit my face, my cheek, not an agresive bite, but, another mouthing bite but this time to my face. I banished her to her kennel/crate and left her there for about 90 minutes. I have to admit, after having a border collie for 8 years, this dog, although very cute, is starting to get on my nerves. She destroys anything she can chew on and she has lots of her own chew toys. I'm thinking I may have made a mistake adopting her and may return her to the Humane Society.

    • profile image

      joseph 

      7 years ago

      lab puppy 9 weeks old i let i chew on my finger once and now that's all it wants to do 2 me it doesn't do that to any1 else but its starting to even bite at my face ideas?

    • profile image

      Ozzie's Mommy 

      7 years ago

      My little beagle puppy is 6 months old and we just adopted him from the shelter yesterday, his name is Ozzie. He's as sweet as can be, but he can get a little too aggressive with my older 3 year old beagle Sissy and my parents and I. We locked him in a cage about an hour ago and left the room. He hasn't tried even nipping since! He obviously came here with some bad habbits but hopefully they will soon be erased.

    • profile image

      sweetiepie marley 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the tips! Our new puppy Marley (golden retriever, 8 weeks) doesn't really bite anyone, but loves to see me as a chew toy because im the smallest in our family and she sees me as a fellow puppy. I didn't know what to do when she got exicted then attacked me, but ill try a few of these tips out (except for shaking, i cant imagine doing that to a sweet little puppy) thanks again!

    • L A Dreamin profile image

      L A Dreamin 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great advice Hope. I'm fairly new to Hubs and will be following you :) Wish I would have had this advice when our lab was little!

    • profile image

      Luch  

      7 years ago

      We just adopted a rescue dog. We think she is about 10 or 11 weeks. Part Brittney spaniel/hound? She is great at night in the crate, doing well with paper training(has been sick so no vaccination yet) However, she can be very sweet but barely licks and bites quite a bit. I feel as if the last 5 days we have been holding her snout and saying no. She has bitten the kids as if they were another puppy. What do we do?? We want to train her right but can't be afraid of her around the kids.

    • profile image

      Hannah 

      7 years ago

      HELP!!!! My puppy is a 13 weeks old and is biting VERY hard. He just bit me really hard and I'm bleeding. He won't stop and nothing seems to work. Any tips? Please help!

    • profile image

      crystal 

      7 years ago

      i have a 13 week old maltese and she likes to bite on you when you hold her and her teeth hurt, how do you stop them from doing this?

    • profile image

      Jeremiah 

      7 years ago

      I just got a 10 week old malte-chon (maltese, bishon friese mix, more maltese tho) and he is soooooooooooooo sweet but about three times a day he goes on these biting benges and he bites everything in his path. which sugesstion should i use on my puppy?

      thanks

    • profile image

      sylvii 

      7 years ago

      i just bought a Goldren retiver ... under 2months of age. He was very cute at first, but now he don't stop biting me and growling and wen am laying down he bites my face...is it play or not?

    • profile image

      maricel 

      7 years ago

      i have a dog 4months old ,but accidentally bites my finger,and im scared ,what should i do ?

    • profile image

      Sasha 

      7 years ago

      I have two lab/springer spaniels/chows (sisters). One of them is a very hyper dog and not in a good way. So I tried the laying down trick and all she did was bite my thigh and scratch my stomach which left a scar. So in a stern voice I told her no but she then growled at me. So I put her in the shed for a qiuck timeout and when I took her out she was still hyper and I walk her everyday.

      My other dog is a calm and gentle dog and they are together 24/7 so I don't understand why her good behavior doesn't rub off on my hyper dog.

    • profile image

      Kayla 

      7 years ago

      I have a 15 week doodle. Its a girl. We have had her for about 2 weeks. She has snapped at my little sister and now me. I have no clue what to do. My parents said she can't stay here if she keeps it up. I tell her no and then give her no attention at all. I hope this works

    • profile image

      sylvia 

      7 years ago

      help my 9 weeks old chi is aggressive and bites and growls at me most of the time she is getting wors by a minute I do anything for her but I am so disapointed now .

      I have tried to ignore her and that did not work I held her mouth shut for a sec this not worked I yelp in pain she keeps on biting I cry she bites don't know what to to please help me

    • profile image

      Katya 

      8 years ago

      help! my german shepherd is 4 years old and he keeps on biting me! he almost broke my arm once!

    • profile image

      cassie 

      8 years ago

      i like cheese.

    • profile image

      twinkz 

      8 years ago

      my staffy pup is 7 weeks old and she constantly tryin to chew on my hand toes or anythin else she can get hold of she gets hold and it hard to get off especially if she gets ur only free hand ave tried the holdin mouth closed she so wiggly i cant hold her like it for more than a few seconds! I ave 3 children 9 n unda do not want the puppy to take a serious nip at them. Help!!!

    • profile image

      jd 

      8 years ago

      i have a 9 week old staffie and he knows who the boss is, i used the pinning technique and a tap on the nose, also completely ignoring him works, if they are really naughty once u have told them off stamp your foot on the floor, they will start to accoicaite this noise and movement with being in the wrong

    • profile image

      darlene 

      8 years ago

      im scared for my bf.. coz my 3months old lhasa apso accidentaly slice my bf finger. what should i do?

    • profile image

      jade 

      8 years ago

      My puppy is a labrador and all it wants to do is bite! I hold his jaw together but it doesn't work! Help me!!!

    • profile image

      JW 

      8 years ago

      Our male german king sheperd is over 4 months old now. He is a very nice dog, but sometimes, he just wants to get agreesive and bite, what can we do.

    • profile image

      Sin 

      8 years ago

      Been around many dogs , have not had one of my own yet although i am getting a blue heeler this year. From all the articles and videos the most effective would probably just to hold his mouth closed with your fingers gently , move in on him and say no while still holding and keep holding for about 10 20 seconds ...put your arm in his range again and if he doesn't bite hes learning and if he does do it again try the rolling the dog on its back and keep it down for a while until he realises whos the alpha. Keep alternating and he will eventually get it , especially if hes a heeler ( geniuses ). Let me know how it goes.

    • profile image

      sofia 

      8 years ago

      very good advice thanks a lot

    • profile image

      sofia 

      8 years ago

      very good advice thanks a lot

    • profile image

      sofia 

      8 years ago

      i have a six week old blue cattle dog and she wont stop biting got any tips?

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      Ashley, you need to be VERY firm with that dog. German Shepherds are intelligent, big dogs. If you let him do that now, imagine what he will be like in a year or two's time. Get someone who knows what they are doing with dogs in your neighbourhood to help you out. Internet advice isn't going to cut it on this one. If you don't know any large dog owners, contact a professional. In the mean time, scold him thoroughly and put him out of the room (at the very least) when he tries that.

    • profile image

      Ashley 

      9 years ago

      I have a 11week old German Sheppard and i cannot find a way to make him quit running up to a childs high chair and stealing there food?? Any Ideas?

    • profile image

      michelle 

      9 years ago

      I just got two Germen Sherphers (boys) they are 9 weeks!! Help all they want to do is bite me this is the third day, my arms are getting all marked up and it hurts. I just tell them no and give them there chew toys.

    • profile image

      bex 

      9 years ago

      that is very good advice

    • profile image

      Mark Mawhinney 

      9 years ago

      We have a fifteen week old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. We're fortunate in that he really hasn't bitten out of aggression, but we have had some mishaps due more because of his need to mouth.

      In terms of the biting we tell him "no" in a stern voice and/or distract him with one of his chew toys. This has produced terrific results and in just a few short weeks we have it mostly under control.

      I'd like to comment more broadly on the matter of laying them on their back (or side), shaking them or calling a time out by putting them in their crates.

      We have laid our puppy on his side and held him (and his head) down for a few seconds. It is not aggressive or difficult to do and produced for us a very agreeable pup.

      I can't understand how one could shake their puppy. It's very bad for young children, no doubt it's not any good for puppies either.

      I also highly commend against using the crate as a disciplinary tool. We are crate training our puppy and use the crate (his den) only as a reward. We've made it an exciting activity called "crate time" and quickly reached the point where he jumps at the opportunity to spend time in his "den". I can only imagine that using it to reprimand a dog makes the crate an unfriendly and tense place as opposed to his safe place (which is what it's supposed to be).

    • Sybille Yates profile image

      Sybille Yates 

      10 years ago

      Another tip would be to put your fingers/ hand around its snout WITHOUT covering the nostril and keeping it shut this way, shaking it very, very gently a bit and saying in a strong voice "NO!" Then go away and ignore the puppy. SY

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