How to Get Your Puppy to Stop Play Biting

Updated: April 27, 2022

"Help! My puppy won't stop biting!" This is a common phrase among new pet parents, especially when it comes to play biting. Puppies love to explore the world by their mouth. Gnawing, chewing, and biting is normal for puppies while they are teething. But the real concern kicks in when simple biting becomes a regular and naughty habit, especially when playing.

How do you get your puppy to stop play biting? Play biting is a natural instinct that can turn into a bad habit if you do not know how to get your dog to stop play biting. Read on to learn how to get your puppy to stop biting during playtime.

"Puppies love to explore the world by their mouth. Gnawing, chewing, and biting is normal for puppies while they are teething."

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Understanding Why Your Puppy is Play Biting

Wondering how to get a puppy to stop biting? Understand why they are play biting in the first place. Puppies have sharp teeth and as they grow older, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced with permanent ones. Just like how we teethed as babies, your pup is teething and this can be painful. Puppies revert to gnawing, chewing, and biting to help relieve their pain.

Puppies also play-bite, particularly during playtimes. They can play-bite with you, your family members, or with other pets at home. Play-biting happens when your furbaby lunges at somebody, mouth-first. VCA Animal Hospital also notes that although often thought to be a teething behavior, nipping, mouthing and play biting in young dogs is generally a form of social play.

This is also why puppies must not yet be separated from their litter until they are eight weeks old. Puppies must be able to learn bite inhibition while with their littermates (this is learning to limit the strength of their bite)

If not supervised, this can eventually develop into harsh and dangerous play-biting. It’s better to curb this play-biting behavior before worse comes to worst.

What Won’t Work to Get a Dog to Stop Biting

Some pet parents do certain practices to put a stop to their furbabies' play biting that are, in the long run, definitely going to have the reverse of the desired or expected effect. The Kentucky Humane Society came up with a list of what will not help you and your puppy in correcting play biting:

  • Grabbing your dog’s muzzle with your hand
  • Hitting your puppy on the nose or muzzle
  • Pinching your puppy's jaw, lips, or tongue

Contrary to what you might have heard, these ways how to get a dog to stop biting or how to get your puppy to stop biting are not ideal. Using these methods of how to get your dog to stop play biting can make your dog scared of you and damage your relationship. Remember that dog play biting is a natural way for them to try to include you in their fun. There are several better approaches that are just as effective, if not more!

How to Get a Puppy to Stop Biting

Have you seen pups play with their littermates or with other pets at home? Usually, there’s this one pup that’s all toothy; the other pups quickly let them know that biting is not okay by ending playtime. At an early age, your pup already knows the limit of their play-biting with other animals. It is now your job to teach your pup to behave the same with you and keep their behavior under control. There are a few ways how to get a dog to stop biting that will build your relationship and provide an effective solution to make a dog stop biting. 

how to stop your puppy from play biting

Be the Leader to Stop Play Biting

If your pup begins play-biting, quickly and correctly institute that it is not okay. If while playing your dog begins to nip at your hands, calmly say a word like “Oops!” or “No, no!” and instantly stop playing with them. Ignore them until they are no longer nipping you. If your pup has settled down, praise them, offer a treat, and continue playing.

Keep on doing this as positive reinforcement and your pup will eventually associate that being calm and playing gently will get them praise, a treat, and longer times of playing with you.

Keep Calm with Dog Play Biting

We know how annoying it is when your pup begins to play-bite. But while you aim to keep your pup calm when playing, you should try to stay calm as well, too! Keep your calm and do not hit or yell at your furbaby. Punishments will only make your puppy afraid of you and may encourage more aggressive play-biting behaviors in the future.

Socialize Your Puppy

There are endless opportunities for socialization and playtime for your puppy. You can socialize with people and with healthy, friendly dogs in your neighborhood, or in puppy socialization groups. Socialization is a must for your puppy’s full development of being a well-behaved dog.

Socialization will help tire your puppy out as you play and will make your pup feel less interested to get all toothy with you. When your puppy is young and not yet up-to-date on vaccinations, your vet will recommend being careful where you take them. For example, a dog park for a young puppy can be dangerous without their complete vaccinations. However, you can arrange meetings with neighbors, have friends to your house, and even enjoy a walk around the neighborhood with much less risk.

Encourage Acceptable Behaviors

Redirect your puppy’s chewing and play biting only on acceptable objects by offering them the safe type of chews whenever you pet them or whenever they begin play biting. Most puppies are people-pleasers and want to make you happy. By praising when they chew on their toys or accepting an alternative when they are attempting to play bite, your puppy will quickly learn what is the proper thing to do.

Provide in a Good Chew Alternative

Providing your pup a good kind of chew will greatly help in putting a stop to dog play biting. Instead of nipping at your hands, they’ll be more engaged in chewing. Distracting and redirecting is an excellent way to stop dog play biting before.

Pick the chew that suits your pup’s chew personality best. Is your dog able to bite large chunks of dog chews and devour them really fast? Is your dog always able to break chews? Or does your dog love to take time? Because c’mon! There's a lot of tomorrows!

Among the many chew options, Grade A elk antler chews and deer antlers like Pet Parents® Gnawtlers® are the better and safer choice for multiple reasons! These premium chews:

  • Will not easily break your dog’s teeth or splinter & cause choking
  • Give your dog a longer gnawing experience
  • Are completely odorless and do not stain your carpets and floor
  • Have no artificial ingredients that can cause digestive upset
  • Are jam-packed with nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc

These dog chews from Pet Parents® are also available in whole and split elk antlers that will help you decide which one best fit you furbaby's chew personality. Split antler chews are best for puppies and senior dogs while whole antler chews are best for young adults, adults, and the aggressive chewers. Deer antlers are also available for super-chewers.

What's also really important to stop dog play biting is that everybody in your household practices these things that will help stop your pup’s play biting, not just you. Anyone who plays with the dog has to teach them that teeth and skin don't mix in order for them to understand the consistent message that play biting is not okay.

Otherwise, your puppy won't stop play biting or you will end up in a long cycle of trying to stop dog play biting while it is being encouraged by other family members which will only confuse your dog. Consistency is key when it comes to teaching how to get your puppy to stop biting. Sit down with everyone in your house and give clear instructions on what to do to stop dog play biting and which actions you will take each time. This way, there is no confusion for you or your furbaby.

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"Among the many chew options, Grade A elk antler chews and deer antlers like Pet Parents® Gnawtlers® are the better choice for multiple reasons!"

These steps on how to get your puppy to stop biting during play will help you get your puppy to better understand what is and is not okay during playtime. Your puppy won't stop biting immediately. It will take patience and repetition to stop puppy play biting and help you ensure your pup is growing into a well-behaved dog. So cheer up, because this too(th) shall pass!