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? Read on!
"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."
Understanding why your pup is play biting
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 fur-baby 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
Some pet parents do certain practices to put a stop to their fur-babies' 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
What to do if your puppy play-bites
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.
Be the alpha
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.
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 fur-baby. Punishments will only make your pup afraid of you and may encourage more aggressive play-biting behaviors in the future.
Socialize your pup
Be able to provide your puppy with endless opportunities for socialization and playtime with people and with healthy, friendly dogs in your neighborhood. Socialization is a must for your pup’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.
Encourage acceptable behavior
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.
Invest in a good chew
Providing your pup a good kind of chew will greatly help in putting a stop to their play-biting. Instead of nipping at your hands, they’ll be more engaged in chewing.
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 in the market, elk antler chews like Pet Parents® Gnawtlers® are the better choice for multiple reasons! These 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 antlers that will help you decide which one best fit you fur-baby'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!
What's also really important is that everybody in your household practices all of 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!
These steps will help you get your puppy to stop play biting soon and help you ensure your pup is growing into a well-behaved dog for a happier and healthier life. So cheer up, because this too(th) shall pass!
" Among the many chew options in the market, elk antler chews like Pet Parents® Gnawtlers® are the better choice for multiple reasons! "