From around six weeks of age, puppies have 28 sharp teeth, which they are keen to use. These milk teeth are initially just an unpleasant prick, but do not cause serious injury. Nevertheless, all dog owners should place great emphasis on teaching their four-legged pets to bite. So what can I do if my puppy bites and how to stop puppy biting?
What does bite inhibition mean for puppies?
Bite inhibition comes from behavioural science. Researchers previously thought it was an innate defence mechanism. It is a mechanism to prevent animals that are outmatched in a fight from getting injured. However, bite inhibition is by no means an innate behaviour. A puppy must first learn it.
Nowadays the term bite inhibition is used to mean that the puppy should not bite too hard. Puppies naturally use their mouths to navigate their environment. So a puppy should definitely use its teeth, but it needs to learn where and how hard to do so.
When should a puppy stop biting?
Puppies learn to control their natural weapons at an early age through play. If puppies from the same litter are playing together and one puppy bites the other, the bitten puppy will react immediately. It will bite back or retreat from the game. Both are unpleasant from the point of view of the biting puppy.
This is how puppies learn that reckless bites have negative consequences. They can only use their new teeth carefully. Natural development and socialisation through such lessons in the litter therefore provide the right foundation for a healthy and safe bite restraint for the adult dog.
Unfortunately, many dog owners do not continue with this important part of puppy training after their puppy has moved in. For all breeds of dogs it is of huge importance. Because even small and very friendly dogs have teeth and can bite.
The training: how can I teach my puppy not to bite?
Dogs should learn as puppies that humans have sensitive skin. They should not bite people even when playing. If your puppy does bite, you need to make the boundaries clear to him. Interrupt play with an audible signal, such as “yow”, as soon as he bites your skin or clothing.
Then distract him for a short time so that he learns the consequences of biting directly. In most cases, about a minute is enough. If your four-legged pet bites you again during this time, it is best to leave the room for a short time. Your puppy will understand that biting too hard has negative consequences.
What to do if your puppy bites
Basically, behave much as a dog would in a similar situation. If your puppy is particularly stubborn, it may, like a dog, “bite back” at some point. A small nip at the dog’s side or paw is quite sufficient. Slapping and hitting hard is of course taboo!
Hitting is of course taboo!
In addition, show him an alternative: give your four-legged pet a tug toy, for example, after the play break described above. He can bare his teeth and learn to bite in this situation. Chewing toys are also suitable for this purpose.
What are the challenges of bite training?
If there are young children at home, training can be more challenging. Small dogs may like to bite small children or their clothing. So only let puppies play with children under supervision. Your child can do play training from about school age.
Consistency is the key to success
Training most puppies requires a lot of patience: remember that only through consistency can you achieve effective success. When your puppy bites, the right response must follow each time.
In addition, all members of the family must act in the same way. If one owner says “yes” but another family member does not, there will be no long-term success. These successes do not happen overnight, but slowly.
Note: About four months before permanent teeth replace milk teeth, puppies should be able to keep their teeth under control.
Assistance from dog trainers
Get professional help if you have persistent problems with this issue. It’s best to take your dog to a dog school at least once a week anyway. There you can specifically mention the issue to the dog trainer.