Understanding Why Puppies Bite
A puppy is a wonderful addition to any family. They make the ideal companion, a bundle of energy and a constant source of joy. Yes, puppies are wonderful, but they need constant guidance or they turn into holy terrors. We need to teach our puppies acceptable behavior, instead of expecting them, to know. I am going to explain how to teach boundaries for your puppy that will discourage them from unwanted behaviors.
As a trainer I've had people ask me how to fix many behavioral issues. One complaint I've heard often is that "My puppy won't stop biting me". It's a huge concern. Owners are frustrated because they can't pet the puppy without being attacked. They tell me that the puppy grabs their pant legs, the cuff on their shirt, their hands, feet, basically anywhere and everywhere. It's true, they are relentless, but thank-fully there are ways to deal with this problem. Before we get to the solution I want to explain why puppies do this.
First it isn't biting. It looks like biting and it may feel like biting, but rest assured a brand new puppy is not trying to bite you, he is exploring, learning and teething. Think of this from the puppies point of view. Thrust into a world he needs to explore. How do dogs explore? primarily with their noses and with their mouths. So it is normal that they put their mouths on everything. As they investigate they learn what is safe and they learn to play. Often puppies are trying to attack your hands because We Unknowingly Teach Them To Do So. From the moment we bring them home they are putting their teeth on us causing us to flinch. This response causes your dog to get frantic, he believes this is a game and the more we flinch the deeper he's conditioned.
The main reason your puppy wants to bite is that he is teething. Teething is a HUGE issue. An issue you need to deal with from the moment your puppy comes home. Puppies teeth for several months. When they come home the baby teeth are new and still uncomfortable. He needs to chew on things to strengthen the teeth. He also finds some degree of relieve from this behavior. Just as this phase start to pass his teeth start to loosen. Soon they fall out, but there is a period where some may be hanging. It is a phase of discomfort for your pet. He doesn't know what to do so he chews. After those teeth fall out the adult teeth come in. Again your pet is uncomfortable and unsure of how to deal with this constant irritation. As the adult teeth grow larger and stronger the teething finally finishes. As I said, it is a huge issue, one that goes on for months.
There are a couple of things you can do. The first is so important that I can not stress this enough. Earlier I stated that it is up to us to teach our pets what acceptable behavior looks like. In the case of teething this is also true. It is unacceptable that your dog thinks that you are a chew toy. The way to solve this is by giving him a chew toy every single time he puts his teeth on you. Everyone in your home has to do the same. Anyone at all your puppy comes in contact with must always have a toy on hand. Make sure no-one plays with your pet with out a toy. A lot of people have a very bad habit of bending down in front of the dog and then darting their hands about. This only encourages the dog to bite at hands. It is a huge no-no. I can not stress how important it is that you give your dog a toy every time he try's to bite you. By being consistent he will start to respond. It might take a month for him to learn because a new puppy is only 8 to 10 weeks old and their brains are still quite small. That means they take longer to learn. The consistency will help in many ways later in training.
Another thing that will help your puppy is a frozen cloth. Start keeping wet face clothes in the freezer. To make them interesting you can put a bit of beef bouillon on them. Your puppy will love chewing on this as it will freeze his gums. It will help take some of his pain away. This is obviously a temporary fix, but it does help.
Always remember the key to teaching a dog any new behavior is repetition and consistency. If your puppy continues to use you as a chew toy it is only because you haven't taught him not too. There are no stupid dogs.