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What to Do if the Puppy Bites and Gnaws?

There is hardly anything cuter in the world than baby dogs – until you can feel the sharp milk teeth of the rascals while playing wildly. Read here how to stop your puppy from biting.

Puppy Bites: Put an End to It Quickly

Ouch! This is how quickly the fun can come to a painful end. If the puppy has discovered your hand as a favorite toy for his attacks, it is neither really dangerous nor mean, but quite uncomfortable.

A few weeks later, however, when the 28 milk teeth change into fully formed dog teeth with 42 teeth and the need to bite and gnaw is particularly high, the game begins to be painful and dangerous. By then, at the latest, it should be clear to your four-legged friend that biting is taboo.

Biting: Normal Puppy Behavior

In contrast to the human child, puppies develop rapidly and as if at a time-lapse pace. The sharp teeth appear between the 3rd and 6th week of life. Young dogs then tirelessly explore their surroundings. Now it is nibbled, pinched, bitten, and fought with the siblings.

In this phase, social behavior is shaped by dealing with the parents and siblings. The puppies learn from the reactions of their conspecifics which behavior is tolerated and when they go too far in the play.

Bite Inhibition: Puppy Learns

In the heat of the moment, it happens that individual puppies scream or howl in pain. This is a clear signal for the puppy to stop using the teeth immediately. If not, parenting measures are carried out in the pack by older pack members, mostly the male father or the mother.

In this way, the young animals learn what is known as bite inhibition. The puppy understands how hard he can pinch so as not to injure his playmate – and he learns for life.

The Role of the Dog Owner

As soon as the puppy is separated from its pack, the human must take on the role of the senior. Its job is to teach the puppy the behaviors that are important for the coexistence of humans and dogs. If your puppy continues to bite hands or other parts of the body, it may not have learned from the early separation from the litter that it should not snap shut in play or in anger.

10 Tips and Tricks for Weaning From Biting

But how do you get your puppy used to biting?

  1. Do not offer your puppy your fingers to bite and nibble;
  2. If your dog snaps at the hand, stick to the same short commands, e.g. no! or end!;
  3. The command can be underlined by briefly stopping the game;
  4. However, do not punish your puppy by leaving them alone for long periods of time beyond a few minutes;
  5. Reward desirable behavior, e.g. if the puppy stops biting immediately;
  6. If the mood gets too heated while playing, take a break;
  7. Refrain from playing too wildly and set time limits (not the dog);
  8. Redirect biting to allow toys;
  9. When changing teeth, have “legal” chew toys ready so that the puppy can try out his teeth; (rubber balls, play ropes, suitable chewing sticks, soft toys for dogs. Please make sure that the toy is chemically non-toxic! not to heat up anymore);
  10. If you have experience with clickers, you can also apply the principle to anti-biting training: Failure to bite is reinforced positively and precisely with the clicking noise.

Off to the Puppy School

In addition to your educational work, it is beneficial to attend a dog school from the 6th month onwards. The puppy training is refreshed and improved there, commands, behavior, and reacting to foreign stimuli and situations are trained. And last but not least, your rascal can romp around to their heart’s content with many new friends of the same age and really let the “dog” out.

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