Nobody is perfect, and neither are puppies! Those cute, furry biting creatures will just chew on anything and everything. Did they bite the mailman’s hand while he was patting them, then stick around to know how to train a puppy to stop biting strangers.
If you’ve just adopted a new puppy and you’re wondering why they’re always biting something, don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with your dog; this is just the nature of puppies.
Today, we will try to understand the nature of the problem, how to fix it, and when to start training your puppy. Just know that your puppy is not biting you or other people to hurt you. They are just trying to get some attention and engage with you.
How to Train A Puppy to Stop Biting -Understanding the problem
They bite not only because they want to engage with you, but also because they’re teething. This teething phase begins when they’re about three to four months old and usually ends when they turn seven or eight months old.
Don’t lose hope yet, for you can minimize and even prevent your puppy’s unhealthy biting habits before they turn eight months old.
How to Train A Puppy to Stop Biting- When to start
Start as soon as you adopt your puppy. Puppies are often adopted when they’re eight weeks old since this is the appropriate age to separate them from their mother and litterbox. If this separation happens before they turn eight weeks old, they’re probably going to develop behavioral and mental issues.
In case you happened to rescue a puppy, and they’re younger than eights weeks, then refrain from any sort of training until they turn eight weeks old. Please take them to the vet to get professional help and advice for your very young puppy.
How to Train A Puppy to Stop Biting
Training your puppy to stop biting could be broken down into five different tips. They are:
- Speak their language
- Bite inhibition
- Dissuading Bites
- Attention Redirection
Speak their language
Before you scold or go ballistic on your puppy for doing something wrong, understand that unlike your child or nephew, your puppy can’t understand what you are saying.
However, we can teach them to understand using positive reinforcement. In a nutshell, positive reinforcement means rewarding your dog’s positive behaviors and ignoring their bad behaviors.
By doing this regularly and as time passes by, your puppy will grow to understand what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Using and repeating the same trigger words for specific situations actually works.
We may speak two different languages, but there are ways for us to communicate efficiently. Here are some ways you can tell your puppy that biting a human isn’t acceptable.
One easy thing to do to inhibit your dog from biting you is to always react to their undesired action. Saying ouch, whimpering, and turning your back to the dog will signal to your puppy that they’ve hurt you.
Whimpering is a universal language that both humans and dog understand, and by adding words like ouch and don’t bite me, you will help the puppy understand the meaning behind these words.
When dogs play with each other and things get rough, someone gets hurt. The hurt puppy whimpers, which is acts as a signal to the other dogs to slow down.
This is very similar to coating a child’s thumb with something that tastes sour like vinegar or lemon juice so they would stop sucking their thumbs. The goal of this is to make the habit undesirable.
We can apply this tactic on our puppies by covering our hands and arms with vinegar and spraying our clothes with an undesirable smell. Beware from using anything that could be toxic for your dog. This method is a taste deterrent technique, and it works wonders.
I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it is worth trying because it will help your puppy believe that biting humans is undesirable.
This method requires you to be aware of your dog’s movements, to be able to anticipate when they are going to bite you before they actually do it. Be prepared and always keep a toy near you that you know your puppy loves to chew.
When your puppy launches themselves to bite your hands or feet, block their way with their favorite toy. They will automatically bite the toy instead of biting you.
You can praise them on their good work, and even offer them some treats. When repeated, your dog will understand that toys are acceptable to bite, while humans aren’t. This newly found understanding is going to reduce any stranger biting incidents.
This could be considered a form of attention redirection, which is what I am going to explain next.
Attention redirection is exactly what it sounds like. You are going to redirect your puppy’s attention when they are focused on biting you to something else. You’ll have to be able to anticipate when your dog is about to bite you.
When they’re going for your hand, intentionally move it out of their reach and say no. We’re trying to train them that they’re not allowed to bite you, and the word now could act as a trigger word for them to stop.
Another attention redirection method is involving them in a nonbiting game like fetching a frisbee.
Hyperactivity is another reason why many dogs bite, so make sure to take them on a run daily, and play nonbiting games with them in the afternoon to reduce their desire to bite.
For more general puppy training tips, check out our Puppy Training: What You Need to Know blog post
Hopefully, you stay consistent with the training and the next time your walking your puppy down the street and someone stops to pet them, your dog won’t bite them.
Do you have any embarrassing or funny stories involving your puppy biting strangers? I would love to read them, so feel free to leave them in the comments down below.