If you’ve ever been nipped by a playful puppy, you know how bad those little teeth can hurt. It’s important that we teach our puppies not to bite so they don’t continue to do so when they grow up. The following are some tips to teach your puppy appropriate manners.
1. Rotate which toys are available.
One way to prevent your puppy from biting you is to keep lots of interesting chew toys available. Each puppy will have different toy preferences, but try to offer your puppy a variety of toys such as a few squeaky toys, a rope toy, a few puzzle toys, a stuffed toy and some dog chews. Then, if you rotate which toys are available each day, your puppy will be more interested in whatever toys happen to be out. As an added benefit, your puppy will also be more likely to chew on the toys and less likely to chew on inappropriate items.
2. Leave the room if the puppy bites.
Some trainers will tell you to ignore unwanted behavior from dogs and puppies. For example, if a puppy doesn’t get attention for jumping on you, she’s less likely to continue jumping. You can use this same method to prevent biting. If your puppy bites your hands or clothes while you’re playing with her or petting her, just say something like “Ouch!” or “Too bad” and then calmly turn your back to her and leave the room. If you do this every time your puppy bites, she will learn that biting equals no more fun.
Since a puppy’s attention span is so short, you only have to leave the room for a minute or so. But try to return when she’s not barking or whining. That will teach her that good things happen if she waits patiently. Of course, if she starts to bite as soon as you return, you would turn your back and leave once again. The goal is to be consistent.
3. It’s never too early to teach obedience commands.
Even if your puppy is just eight weeks old, you can begin teaching her basic obedience commands such as sit, stay and down. These are commands that will help her learn more self-control in general, which will help her in all areas of training, including learning not to bite people.
If possible, enroll your puppy in a “puppy kindergarten” or beginning obedience class. This will give you the opportunity to work with an experienced trainer, and it will give your puppy a chance to work and socialize around other puppies. Most puppy classes allow some playtime at the end of class, and the puppies will learn a lot from each other. For example, if one puppy bites too hard, the other puppy will yelp.
4. Exercise your puppy.
Puppies go through some serious energy spurts, so make sure you are providing your puppy with plenty of exercise. This could include running around the yard, interacting with toys, going for walks or working on training.
5. Use an anti-chew spray.
One product that can help stop some puppies from biting is an anti-chew spray. This type of spray will not hurt the puppy, but it has an unpleasant taste. If you spray the chew stopper on your hands or on other items you don’t want your puppy to bite (such as the leash), it may prevent your puppy from biting. You’ll also want to make sure to praise your puppy with treats and attention when she shows good behavior.
Did any of you adopt a puppy over the holidays? We’d love to see a pic!