Puppy Biting – 6 Tips to transform this struggle
Puppy Biting hurts so we are going to give you 6 tips to help transform this struggle.
TIP #1 – A WELL-RESTED PUPPY BITES LESS
Young puppies need 17-20 hours of sleep a day! That’s a ton of sleep! As your puppy matures, it’s sleep requirements lesson but as an adult dog, it will still need 13-15 hours of sleep each day.
Adequate sleep and rest are imperative to having a calm, well-behaved dog of any age. This is called ACTIVE rest in our Calmness Menu.
ACTIVE REST is critical for their ability to make good choices. You can help your puppy rest by giving it quiet places to rest.
You can find out more about our Calmness Menu to combat your any of your dog-owning struggles. With our Calmness Course.
Who wants to miss out on all the fun by taking a nap? Those of you with young children and toddlers know how this goes. Everyone is having a great time, and now your overtired child is losing it. They are combative, irritated, and screaming over the smallest detail. And they can not be soothed.
No nap = Frantic puppy biting
Notice your young dog’s patterns and recognize when they might need help taking a nap or just some quiet time. Put them someplace away from all the commotion, the loving hands, and tempting fingers.
Sniffing, shredding, licking, and chewing are fantastic calming strategies for puppy biting.
TIP #2 – REDIRECT AND PROVIDE A MORE ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE
Give your little land shark something else to sink its teeth into! That might be a
• Stuffed Food toys
• Safe, long-lasting chew (experiment to see what works best – soft or hard?)
• Oversized stuff toy to wrestle with (twice the size of your puppy)
If you find that your puppy struggles to engage with the stuffed food toys or chew, experiment to see what works best for your unique puppy. When Hooley was a puppy, I struggled greatly to find the chew she would engage in.
As your puppy matures, you will see its chewing preference change.
TIP #3 – MAKE SURE THEY’RE FEELING OKAY
Sometimes puppies don’t feel well. It may be they got their vaccines or it might be their tummy is a bit upset. This is when puppy biting can be at its worst. Check with your vet for medical solutions.
TIP #4 – TEACH APPROPRIATE PLAY
Puppies don’t come into this world know how to play with us and toys. This is a learned behavior.
Watch for a second, and you will see they are just grabbing at whatever they can, and they lack physical coordination to know if they are missing their mark (the toy) and getting you instead.
The key is to use long toys (24- 36 inches long) to set them up for success. Drag it on the ground, getting your puppy to chase it. The further the way your hand is from your puppy’s mouth, the less your hands will be targeted for biting.
If they grab it and want to tug, fantastic; if they want to chase it, great. But if they grab you, play stops.
Teaching your puppy what to bite and how to play can be so helpful.
TIP #5 – TEACH YOUR PUPPY AROUSAL REGULATION
Amping up is easy, but coming back down to a calmer state is a learned skill. What will it be all that ruff and tumble wild energy your puppy has to be like when it is a beast of a teenage or adult dog?
If your puppy is playing by itself with a toy and then it settles in to rest on its own, that is a perfect opportunity to calmly reward your puppy with petting, quiet praise, or treats.
And if you play games that are specifically designed to increase excitement up (arousal up!) and then bring that excitement back down again (arousal down), you will grow your pup’s ability to regulate their own arousal level.
Arousal Regulations games take them from being super high, enthusiastic, wild to settled, relaxed, waiting patiently, and calm. And isn’t that what you need so much of the time in real life? An exciting event, a squirrel, company, or walks happen, and then you need them to come back down and be calm.
Get your FREE E-book that we have prepared just for you. It can be in your inbox in less than 5 minutes and will dive even deeper into Arousal Up, Arousal Down!
TIP #6 – Grow Calmness to Reduce or Eliminate Puppy Biting.
The more you reward your dog or puppy when it is calm, the more they will default into a calm state. And we all know the behavior your dog does today, the habit it becomes tomorrow. So the more your dog practices calmness, the more it will default into calmness.
Each hour your dog is awake, they have the opportunity to make hundreds of choices. And most of those don’t get rewarded. Instead, you wait until your puppy misbehaves before you give them any feedback or attention.
We want to flip that on its head.
Much of the time, focusing on the naughty behaviors (biting, jumping, barking, etc.), seems to escalate and worsen the behavior because even though you are scolding, telling them off, and possibly worse, much of the time, these are attention seeking behaviors and ATTENTION, ANY ATTENTION can function as a reward if that is what your dog wants at that time. It is an accidental reward but a reward nonetheless. Crazy, right?
Flip that on its head by watching your dog for FANTASTIC decisions that it makes. When your pup:
- grabs a toy to play with instead of you. Lovely – reward it with a game of tug!
- lays down – That’s Huge! – calmly reward it
- sit instead of jumps – what a polite baby, reward it with petting
- on its own goes into its crate or curl up on their bed – reward it by giving a chew
- Walks past the cat or your older dog without pouncing it – Celebrate with some pieces of their food.
And that is just a tiny list of possible situations you can reward! Where your attention goes, behaviors grow! Grow the behaviors you like, need, and love by giving them tons of attention!
If You Have A Puppy Under 20 Weeks Old
If you have a puppy under 20 weeks old and you need help with its training, check out our Super Puppy Class.
What if my dog isn’t under 20 weeks old? Maybe it is a rebus teenage or adult dog?
Not a problem! These same strategies will help. And you can check out our Serious Deep Dive Workshops for help.
Want to know more!? Get your own free copy of our Playful Biting – Your Transformation Game Plan! We will send it over, right away!