How To Stop Your Puppy From Biting
The thing that I hear the most from past clients and people who talk to me about their new puppy is that they don’t know how to stop the nipping and mouthing.
Now, not all puppies do this and some are much worse at it than others.
When I chose the Kuvasz as the breed of dog I wanted to be involved with, I had no idea that the breed is well known for its nipping and biting. Not only nipping and biting but grabbing at clothing both moving and stationary, other dogs, and any other item that might be lying around.
The thing that Kuvasz puppies seem to most bite at are moving body parts like your feet, legs, hands, ….
This is highly annoying and can be painful, especially if an older puppy has not learned to control his bite pressure yet.
There is no quick fix
The solution is not a quick one at all, but IS one that builds a confident dog with whom you will have a great relationship.
A. Have Your Puppy On Leash
This is the most important thing you can do when raising a puppy.
This is also the thing that so many people are resistant to doing for some reason. Too many people feel a puppy should be running loose around the house and yard. NOT SO.
The reason is twofold.
ONE: These are the formative months. You need to be able to prevent your puppy from doing different things like eating things he shouldn’t off the ground, running away, and NIPPING OR BITING.
TWO: By using a leash you prevent a puppy from becoming what is known as “hand shy” from avoiding you grabbing for him or his collar all the time. Puppies learn fast whether the hand is good or bad and you always want them to be calm around you. Since your hands are so important to you in daily life, use them for only good things when it comes to your dog. Teach your puppy that hands are nothing to fear.
Having your puppy drag a leash is the best way (and in my opinion the only way) to stop and prevent nipping and biting. For info on what to use and how to make it yourself see my blog post about leash lines
There are times when your puppy can be off the leash line. If you have an area in which there is nothing that the puppy can get at that you don’t want destroyed (i.e. a puppy proofed area), then he can be off leash as long as he is supervised. Leaving toys with a very young puppy alone can also be problematic. If a toy breaks or tears from use it could be hazardous to a young dog or if he learns how to damage certain toys the same things could happen. Young puppies need to be supervised pretty much all the time.
B. Stop Or Prevent Biting Or Nipping By Using The Leash Line
Whenever your puppy tries to nip or bite your hands, remove them from the vicinity or the puppy’s mouth without fanfare. Hold on to the leash line near the end so that your puppy cannot get to your hands. Do this any time your puppy decides to nip or is getting over-aroused and starts to bite.
C. Redirect Puppy To Do Something Else
As always, you have food rewards on you or in the immediate area because you are raising a puppy. Take some out and feed one at a time for not biting. You could also place a toy in the puppy’s mouth and engage him in play for a while. This will help with working off puppy energy that needs to be done regularly.
D. Teach Self Control
Do training sessions with your puppy in which you gradually train him to control himself around moving body part and clothing. Trust me this works. It does take some time to see great improvements but it provides quality time with your dog doing something useful, which in a time deficient world is greatly needed.
A session only needs to be a few minutes or even a minute. Start by showing the puppy the food reward. Take your hand a move it for a second or two in front of your puppy. Reward if he does not try to bite it. If he does try, you are too far ahead. Start with something less stimulating, maybe even just presenting your hand to your puppy for him to sniff.
Gradually work up to moving your hand, feet and/or other objects around in front of your puppy, rewarding with food when he sits calmly.
Take the time to work with your puppy NOW and create the relationship you want for you and your dog in the future.
E. Train An Incompatible Behaviour
When your puppy has stopped trying to bite, get some more food rewards and start training a behaviour such as “sit” or “down”. Simply hold the food reward over the puppy’s head near his nose and move it backwards over his head to get him to sit. Reward when he sits. For help with this see my article on teaching a really good sit.
for those of you who think grabbing the puppy’s mouth and holding it closed or smacking the dog on the muzzle works, you need to understand that you will be creating a dog who hates having the human hand near his head.
Train your dog to accept muzzle handling calmly instead of training your dog to be hand shy.
When people brought their dogs to me for boarding in the past, I could tell which dogs were smacked (with hands or something else) by how they reacted to me. One dog would flatten himself on the ground when a food dish was moved around over his head. Other dogs would do that when hands were moved around them.
Don’t create this behaviour in your dog. Teach your dog to be confident about handling by doing the appropriate training and prevention (most important). If it seems that the behaviour is lasting forever and you are tired of it, remember that is WILL pass eventually with the right work.