Featuring Sarah Alvarado, CPDT-KA & Bart Emken, CPDT-KA
Concept by Courtney Emken

“OUCH! My puppy won’t quit biting me!” The puppy teething phase can be a NIGHTMARE! Puppies tend to bite or chew because they are teething and are trying to relieve their pain. Our dog experts explain how you can manage a puppy’s teething pain and train them not to bite you during the puppy teething phase.

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“My puppy is biting me–HELP!”

– So one of the first things I’d like to talk to people about before they even get a puppy is taking puppy home at an appropriate age. So typically not before eight weeks old. Puppies learn very important lessons from their litter mates and from their mom about how to use their mouths. Puppy biting and nipping is normal behavior so it’s not that they have adopted a terrible new puppy.

– Piranha.

– Piranha, yeah. They haven’t adopted a new piranha. This is normal behavior.

– The puppies are, like she said, are exploring the world with their mouth. You know, their nose is important way to get and take from their environment but their mouth is their second and so they’re putting their mouths on everything and when they’re playing with their litter mates or their mom, sometimes they’ll bite an ear or bite a paw and they’re just playing, they’re just seeing what works, what doesn’t work and the dog that gets the tooth in the ear, is gonna yipe and he’s, I don’t wanna play with you anymore and it startles the puppy too so it teaches them bite inhibition in basically a natural way.

What are some things I can do to stop my puppy from biting too hard?

– Some of those things might be just a short time out. So if your puppy bites you, too hard it hurts, you can just get up and walk away.

– It’s kind of a punishment and punishments not always a bad word, it just means that you’re doing something that makes a behavior less likely to happen. Dogs are very social animals and so if they’re in play and they do something inadvertently and then you remove yourself, that’s the last thing they want.

– Dr. Dunbar actually talks about allowing a puppy to mouth on you gently that all contact, all puppy contact or puppy teeth contact with human skin isn’t necessarily bad because if puppy mouths you just gently and you continue to engage with puppy, then they learn that gentle contact is okay.

– Bite inhibition and lack of socialization are the number one and two reasons that dogs end up in a shelter so it’s a really important skill to learn and to teach your dog.

– What I have learned talking with clients is that a time, specifically when puppies are very apt to be really mouthy is when they start to get tired. So when a puppy starts to get really tired, after you’ve had a play session or a training session or maybe you’ve been out for a little walk, that that’s a really nice time to put puppy in the kennel with a chew toy, something that he can, stuffed, frozen Kong maybe, something that he can chew on.

– Right.

– That isn’t you.

– Right. Any animal that’s teething, it’s painful and you sooth yourself by chewing on things. They have little toys that are ropes, rope toys and if you soak ’em in water and then freeze ’em, the dog, it’s very helpful for the dogs ’cause their teeth can penetrate through the rope and get up to the frozen part so it sort of massages the gums and freezes ’em a little bit.

– I think sometimes people think they one or two toys and that’s plenty and enough and what happens is that puppies, dogs in general really enjoy novelty and so if they have the same chew toy over and over again, that chew toy is gonna be old news and then they’re gonna find something else to chew on.

– The analogy I like to use is if you have a nice, new wallet and it’s got 20 dollar bills in it, you look over and you see your puppy with it, if you make that a game because that’s very important to you, you’re like no, no, no, no, come here, come here, come here, then it turns into a game for him and then he grabs it and he’s you know, playing keep away but if you practice, hey, what you’re doing is okay but guess what, I’ve got something better. And then you’re teaching the dog, here’s the appropriate thing that I want you to chew. Same thing with shoes or anything that’s high value to you, the dog just may think is just another chew toy.

– So I think what you just said is a really good point because you can inadvertently and accidentally turn that into a huge game of catch me if you can so if your, your puppy is very, very smart and if your puppy learns that if grabbing your wallet or your shoe immediately garners your undivided attention and possibly a really fun game of chase me all over the house, then what you have absolutely done is just reinforce the heck out of grabbing things that we shouldn’t have. So instead we often will ignore out dogs when they’re being good, chewing on their own bone in the corner and then the instant that they grab something that they’re not allowed to have.

– Yeah, now your.

– Or sometimes nipping can be an attention seeking behavior too. If my puppy runs up and nips me and then that turns into maybe a fun game, wrestling game even though I’m trying to get my puppy off of me.

– Right.

– I’ve reinforced that behavior, my puppy learns oh I know how to make the party start now.

– Yeah.

– I know how to get dad’s attention and the focus on me.

– It’s all about rewards.