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It feels so AMAZING to stare into your puppy’s big, round eyes as your heart melts out of your chest because awww. It doesn’t feel so amazing when your puppy sinks its teeth into your ankle — or new sofa — moments later…
Even though they are adorable and full of love, puppies come with their own set of challenges… and a major one is mouthing, biting and nipping.
It’s completely normal for puppies to bite. Puppies use their teeth to play and explore the world, and they also chew to soothe teething.
But that doesn’t mean you should let your puppy nip at whatever it wants whenever it wants. The American Kennel Club says “puppies who learn bite inhibition are less likely to grow into adult dogs who bite.” Plus, your ankles and sofas will thank you for training your pup to hold back its bite.
So, how can you train your puppy to stop biting, nipping and mouthing? There are lots of methods out there, but our top 5 faves are coming right up.
The ‘Ow!!!’ Technique
Celebrity dog trainer Caesar Millan suggests making a yelping sound or saying “Ow!” when your puppy bites you too hard. This is similar to how puppies let each other know playtime is getting too rough, and a startling sound should make the biting puppy release its grip. After your pup releases, ignore him or her for 10 to 20 seconds and then start playing again.
If you have to do this more than three times in 15 minutes, though, Caesar says you might want to try a puppy time out instead.
Redirect & Distract
If your puppy is nibbling on your hand or furniture, say “No” and swap in a chew toy or bone they’re allowed to bite to their heart’s content. When your puppy chews something they’re supposed to chew, praise them and give them a treat. That should keep your pup distracted for a while!
Games like Tug of War are also useful because they satisfy the puppy’s urge to chew in an acceptable way.
‘Prevent The Pounce’
The American Kennel Club’s “prevent the pounce” method is meant for puppies that go after humans’ legs and feet while walking. To stop this, hold a high-value treat next to your leg to teach your dog to walk nicely alongside you, similar to teaching them to walk on a leash.
According to ASPCA, your pup may simply need to burn more energy so he or she has less of it when it comes to playing roughly with you. So take your bud on a trip to the dog park or grab a ball and play a long game of fetch until your furry BFF is too tired for chew time.
Prevent, Prevent, Prevent
There are some different ways to block your pup from biting before it happens. One example is using anti-chew spray, which makes things your dog likes to chew taste bitter. After a few tries, your puppy may never want to gnaw on those items again. We recommend an all-natural DIY spray, which is simply a mix of one part white vinegar and two parts apple cider vinegar. Mix into a spray bottle and spray onto the objects they tend to bite!
You can also discourage your pup from biting by being careful with your own actions. For instance, make sure you don’t wave your fingers or toes in your puppy’s face or it may actually encourage him or her to bite you.
If you’re still having trouble, don’t be afraid to get the help of a professional dog trainer. And don’t forget to reinforce good puppy behavior with delicious, healthy treats.
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
- The healthybud team
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet’s advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog’s condition.