Any pup owner knows that while puppies are playing they will be biting and nipping and doing all sorts of different things. Growing pups will also use biting and even chewing as a way of relieving their sore gums when their teeth are growing and to investigate their surroundings. And although it is very funny to watch a pup trying to play tough, as it gets older and the teeth start to get stronger, things will stop being cute and fast. You will soon notice that even though tiny, those razor-sharp teeth puppies have will start to hurt. At some point, you will get tired of having your skin constantly bruised and you’ll start to wonder when will your pup stop biting.
Pups don’t normally grow out of biting, even though they will start chewing less as soon as they are done teething, which happens around the age of 5 months old. An important aspect to consider is that your dog will get used to clamping down your skin if you let it do it often enough. This is why it is very important to train your dog and teach it appropriate behavior if you want to consider yourself a responsible pet owner.
Experts from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) consider that it is very important to teach your pup about bite inhibition even before trying to stop it from nipping or biting people while playing. Although your pup will continue to throw its teeth around, you will first have to teach it to be as gentle as possible. It is very important to teach your puppy to control its strength and the force of its jaws, so that when reaching adulthood, if it ever feels the need to bite, even if out of fear, it will do it in a gentle way. Even without your training, a puppy will usually learn to be gentle from playing with littermates and from its mother. For example, when the mother sees a pup bite too hard, she will intervene and stop it. Pups will also have to understand these things even while away from the litter and their mother, in a human’s house.
According to the ASPCA, when trying to teach your dog to be gentle, you should use the same techniques that its littermates might use. This means that you should have great success fixing this behavioral problem if you respond with a high-pitched “ow” every time your pup bites a little too hard while playing with you. Once your pup starts to understand and stops biting, give him a treat and praise. There are also dogs that get excited when they hear someone yelping. This means that if your dog gets excited when you make a high-pitched noise, it is better to just get up and walk away to make him understand you don’t like his behavior.
A great way to reach your goal, which is basically to stop the pup from biting, is with the help of redirection. This is done by giving your pup a chew bone or a tug toy as soon as it starts to bite down or nip at your skin. This is to create a connection inside your pup’s head between his need to bite and chewing on a toy, according to experts from the ASPCA.
There are also a few breeds of dogs, like the Shetland sheepdogs and even Border Collies, that will give in to their herding instincts and nip humans at the ankles in an effort to herd them around the house. One thing you can do if you know your pup is an ankle grabber is to just keep a toy with you at all times, and when the dog feels the need to nip at your ankle, just wave the toy and stop walking. Give him a treat and praise him as soon as the pup grabs the toy, and then just move on. This exercise should be repeated until you can safely walk around your house without the fear of being nipped.
You should try to give your puppy the occasional timeouts as a way to teach him that any game you’re playing is over as soon as he either nips or bites. This will be something a pup won’t need a lot of time to understand, considering that they usually like to play and don’t like these types of timeouts. You can see this timeout in whatever way you like; either by picking up the dog and placing it in his enclosure or a gated room or by leaving the room and letting the pet cool off. Leaving the pup alone for just around 60 seconds should be enough for him to understand. Then, you can resume your play sessions. This technique should be repeated until you see results.
It is very important to give your pup enough toys, especially between the ages of 2 and 10 months old, when the pet is going through rapid development, according to the AKC (American Kennel Club). Toys are not only helpful when it comes to the discomfort and pain caused by the development of their teeth, but also as a way of providing mental stimulation, and even training, to some extent. Toys should always be chosen based on the dog’s overall personality and size.