How to stop puppy biting feet, hands, clothes, or furniture
We’ve now fostered over 50 dogs and one of the most common issues we see with foster puppies is biting or nipping. We usually try to train away common problems to prepare them for adoption. It is often a frustration with new puppy parents as well.
The last two litters we fostered in particular, reminded us how common this problem is. The shelter recovered one litter from an animal cruelty case. Rescuers found the other litter abandoned at a gas station.
In both cases, we successfully trained the puppies bite inhibition. While they may still mouth other dogs or people, they no longer bite with force or damage.
Part of the reason why a lot of the puppies we foster bite is that they haven't been properly socialized. Usually, the mother corrects behavior such as forceful biting. Other times, they may learn from playing with older dogs. Additionally, the puppy may be experiencing normal teething pains or discomfort. Finally, some puppies nip as a form of play.
Here are three ways to teach your puppy to stop biting:
- The yelp technique.
Yelping is often the easiest method but it doesn't work with all dogs. When the dog bites your hand, yelp loudly as if in pain when it begins to hurt. To make it effective, pull your hand out of their reach as you yelp. With repetition, the puppy will adjust its biting force to not cause you harm.
- Correction and redirection.
This method works for many behavioral issues but is particularly suited for nipping. Be aware that the results are not as immediate as with the yelping technique. Here, you must use your standard correcting signal, but redirect immediately afterwards. For example, you say *tsch* or *ah ah* then give them a chew toy. You are teaching them to use a toy instead of your hand if they want to bite. Vary the material type from rope, plush, and dense or soft rubber if needed.
If you live near a Petco or Petsmart, most will host a free puppy playtime on the weekends. A dog trainer supervises the play session. It is a great way for your puppy to socialize with other puppies and learn good manners.
In the absence of the mother or an older dog, we use our Pupr Pals toy to teach proper behavior. Because the toy has a bite resistant fabric, it protects against sharp puppy teeth. And since you can use the squirrel like a puppet, you can correct unwanted behavior with the hands. The hidden squeaker also provides feedback when you need it. The scratch resistant armband is great for interactive play to tire the puppy too.
Using the padded toy to play with your puppy will help them learn to inhibit their bite. The puppet takes on the role of their playing partner and you can teach them proper social and play etiquette. They may not stop using their mouths to discover the world and play, but the goal is for them to avoid hurting us by controlling the strength of their bite.
Once they are done playing, they may cuddle up together. That’s why we call them Pupr Pals.
Remember to supervise your puppy during play. Hide your toys when not in use to keep the dog engaged with it over time. Don't leave out any toys that may pose a danger to them if parts are swallowed. If these techniques don't work, don't give up. At that point, it would be best to seek professional help from a vet or dog trainer.