You have brought home a bundle of cuteness and instead of those hugs and cute cuddles, you are getting bites on your toes and fingers. And all you can do is think to yourself: ‘Good grief! What have I gotten myself into?’ ‘When will my puppy stop biting?’ Let us take a look at all the frequently asked questions owners have about aggressive puppy biting.
When do puppies stop biting so much?
It is common for puppies up to the age of 5 months to bite. Having said so, puppies have razor sharp teeth which can really hurt and tear the skin. However, even if this is normal behavior, you must put a stop to it at an early age. Bad habits can set in very quickly so you need to be very firm if you do not want your cute little bundle to turn into an aggressive biting machine. Here are some reasons why puppies bite:
- They are teething. Just like human babies need to bite into everything they can get their teeth into, puppies also want to chew and bite and taste.
- Biting is a way of exploring. Your puppy is completely unaware that s/he is hurting you. They are, as stated before, using their teeth to taste.
- Dogs are naturally carnivorous and human flesh and blood is appealing. Having said that, your puppy will not bite you with the intention of drawing blood.
- Biting and growling is also often done for self defense. When you try to pet your puppy, it thinks that your hands are weapons and that you are attacking it. This causes the puppy to bite or growl.
- They might also think it’s a game. Puppies are playful by nature. They think of you as a part of their litter and if you observe pups in a litter, they are always licking, biting, or being aggressive with their siblings. So biting can also result from playing.
- Pups separated from their litters at an early age tend to bite more as they have not learned of bite inhibition.
Puppies will naturally overcome this bad habit by the time they turn 6-8 months old. You must also take necessary precautions to stop a puppy from biting your feet and hands.
What to do if puppy bite breaks skin?
- Wash the skin under cold running water.
- Apply an antiseptic cream.
- Bandage the skin if needed.
- See your doctor if the pet is not vaccinated. You might need anti-rabies and tetanus shot.
Strategies and tips to stop a puppy from biting your feet
The important thing to do is put a stop to the habit as soon as it starts. You must not let this become routine. There is no reason why you and your family members should endure those terrible, painful bites. Here are some tried and tested and expert recommended methods to stop a puppy from biting your hands and feet:
1. Let puppies stay with their litter longer
Puppies who stay for 8 weeks or more with their mum and litter are known to understand bite inhibition. So the preferable age to bring a puppy home is after 8-12 weeks. Good breeders will not let puppies go home to their new families before this period.
2. Social motivation
Does your puppy bite when you attempt to cuddle or pet him? If that is the case, always ensure that your puppy is well fed and rested when you attempt to pet or cuddle them. Sleepy and tired puppies could use aggression as they are unable to express themselves. Make sure you only pet or cuddle your puppy after s/he has had a good night’s sleep as well as several naps throughout the day.
3. Train puppy to bite a plush toy instead of your hands or feet
Hold a large plush toy near the puppy on the floor. Make sure the toy is bigger than twice the size of the pup’s head. While you pet him/her, place the toy near it. The puppy should now understand that it can only bite the toy. Should the puppy miss the toy and bite your hand instead, yelp loudly. Silently leave the room and return after 15 minutes. You need to do this consistently for 3 days to see results.
4. Change the puppy’s diet
Aggressive puppy biting can also result from improper diet consisting of corn, wheat soy etc. These ingredients often cause sensitivity in your pet and lead to behavioral issues and aggression. Biting and aggression can also result from hunger pangs associated with carbohydrate rich diets that get burnt quickly and cause appetite issues. Speak to your vet about the right food for your pet. Feeding small meals every few hours is best for puppies’ growth. Your breeder can also advise you about the right food for pups.
5. Know where your pup likes being petted
Most dogs, especially the younger ones, do not like being patted or petted on their heads. They tend to resort to biting when they see your hands coming to stroke them on the head. Try petting them behind their ears or under their chins. This simple tip can keep puppy calmer and prevent biting.
6. Has your puppy chosen to bite one of your kids?
Puppies often zero in on one member of the family, usually a kid, and bite them the most. It is best to limit puppy’s access to the ‘anointed one’. Out of sight, out of mind is the strategy that works best here. The more your pet remains away from the chosen kid, the sooner s/he will stop biting.
7. Give them access to chew toys
Keep plenty of chew sticks, rawhide bones, antler sticks, and Kong toys accessible to puppy. This will prevent them from chewing and tearing up furniture, clothing etc. You can also supply him with chew ropes or old socks tied into knots, dipped in water and frozen to bite on.
8. Ignore puppy when s/he is in mood to bite
Say a firm No when your puppy starts biting. You can utilize certain methods of preventing it from biting such as gently pushing him away or even making a loud sound such as squealing or yelping. Whatever you do, never smack or hit the puppy. Some people even try holding the pet’s mouth when s/he bites. This is a strict no-no as it can worsen your relationship with puppy and even aggravate the behavior. Instead ignore the puppy when he is in the mood to bite. Since puppies crave attention, they hate it when their humans ignore them. So simply turn your back on your puppy and place your arms in your armpits.
9. Use taste deterrents
There are several taste deterrents on the market such as bitter taste or hot, spicy or minty flavor which tastes yucky to puppies. You can spray some of these items on furniture or other areas where your pet bites or chews.
10. Exercise your puppy’s mind and body
An active, engaged puppy is least likely to bite. So play with your pet (after s/he has rested well and seems to be in a mood to play) and also stimulate puppy’s mind by teaching him tricks and hand signals. Take your pet out for an hour daily.
Give them time and be patient! You might wonder ‘when do puppies stop biting so much?’ But this phase will end soon and you will have a calm, wonderful companion who you will love and cherish.