If you follow our blog, you’re probably caught up on how to reduce inappropriate chewing with your dog. Good news! Much of that applies to another topic, puppy biting! The general management strategies are the same.
For starters monitor your puppy closely, using a leash to tether your puppy to something stationary in a room you’re in. If your puppy chews on the leash, use something indestructible like a small chain leash. Provide plenty, we normally recommend 8-10, appropriate toys including Kongs, Nylabones, and deer antlers. For smaller puppies, nylon squeaky toys are also helpful.
Prevent Your Puppy From Biting
Teach Appropriate Toy Play
To help prevent your puppy from biting, be sure to praise your puppy when they have a toy in their mouth. If you want to play with your puppy and they don’t have a toy in their mouth, approach with a toy. Encourage your puppy to have their mouth on the toy by waving it around playfully. Offer the toy and pet your puppy while the toy is in their mouth.
Teach an Automatic Sit for Attention
If you have small children and a puppy, the puppy biting can be even more problematic and challenging to eliminate. Given these challenges, I normally recommend teaching a puppy to automatically sit when a child approaches. While this does not directly compete with the biting, it certainly does seem to reduce the amount of biting at a time when biting is more prevalent. Using the tether and with your help and guidance, have your child approach your puppy with a few small treats. Encourage your puppy to sit by luring them into position. Once sitting, immediately give your puppy a treat. A few repetitions with an adult may be helpful in getting the automatic sit started. Once consistently sitting, have your child start petting with the opposite hand. I recommend feeding with the left hand and petting with the right. Continue petting or having your child pet as long as your puppy is sitting and deliver a treat every few seconds. Slowly fade out the treats over the course of a few weeks. In a matter of just a few training sessions, your puppy should begin automatically sitting when your children approach!
Reward Non Biting
Another time when puppy biting is more prevalent is if children are running and your puppy is loose. Ankles and pants may seem to get the brunt of and fall victim to your little land alligator! If this is the case, keep your puppy on leash and before your children start running praise and deliver a treat when your puppy is calm. Have your children begin walking and continue praising and feeding if your puppy remains calm. Drop the leash and casually step on the end. Have your children increase the speed and chaos of their antics and continue rewarding any calm behavior from your puppy. Be sure not to reward calm behavior if it is immediately preceded by wild pulling, barking, or biting. Instead have your children move a bit more calmly and wait for a 2-3 seconds of calm behavior from your puppy. You might be surprised how quickly your puppy can become calm just by rewarding the absence of biting!
When your Puppy Bites
If your puppy does bite, we recommend walking away immediately. While this isn’t an incredibly effective way to punish the biting, it is a safe way to prevent accidentally rewarding the biting and gives you time to introduce the strategies above.
If your puppy’s biting continues, contact Beyond the Dog for more personalized help!