Let’s start by saying chewing/biting is a normal behaviour! All puppies chew and this is completely natural. Just like babies, they will chew more when they are teething! Puppy biting or nipping starts out as a bit of fun but needs to be controlled quickly to avoid ongoing problems. Good news? Most puppies can be trained to minimise the biting pretty easily.
Puppies learn bite inhibition from their litter mates. Have you ever seen puppies playing together and one might let out a yelp? This is because one of their littermates were biting too hard. So, we as their new parents need to teach our puppies that biting us is not appropriate.
If you don’t clearly communicate to your dog that the biting is unacceptable, he will not know he is doing anything wrong. It’s up to you to show him what is acceptable behavior, don’t just expect your puppy to know this!
Teaching the bite inhibition:
- Let out high pitched ‘yelp’ or ‘ouch’ when the puppy bites your fingers.
- Now ignore the puppy and place hands in pockets or behind your back.
- Wait 5-10 secends, then make up with your puppy, time to play again!
- Repeat the steps if puppy starts mouthing again
Here’s how Chisel’s parents deal with the biting and constant chewing!!
“Like all puppies, Chisel loves to bite and chew EVERYTHING. I guess biting and chewing are largely the same thing to Chisel, but we consider biting to be a problem when he bites us (or our other dog) and especially when he does it hard enough to hurt! Chewing is of course a problem only when he’s chewing things he’s not supposed to – which is a lot of his waking hours!”
“Chisel loves to bite/chew our hands, but also our feet, arms, legs, ears, etc. Occasionally you’ll be lying on the ground with him and he’ll run up behind you and launch himself onto the back of your head with an open mouth! I don’t think he’s ever done it aggressively to us. Sometimes with Toby (our other dog) there’s a lot of noise along with it, so it’s hard to tell, but it still seems to be all in good fun. He also loves to grab onto the clothes that we’re wearing and pull/chew – especially sleeves, but also pants legs, the cords on our hoodies, and anything else he can reach. “
We only react when it gets a bit too rough. Then we yelp (or occasionally yell!), take our hands away, and ignore him for a minute. We’re not sure if we should be allowing him to chew our hands at all though?”
“We’ve found that if he’s chewing our fingers, but not hard, and we want to stop him, sometimes it helps to just hold up the palm of our hand with the centre near his nose. There’s no threat of hitting involved, we just find that this way he lick the palm of our hands and not have an edge to grab hold of! “We use the word “gentle” a lot too, and a calming voice when he’s starting to chew and play a bit rough.
“When Chisel is chewing things he’s not supposed to, we try to follow the advice to replace it with something he’s allowed to chew. We have a variety of different chew toys, of various types/hardness, and we rotate them every 1-2 days so that he has something “new” each day. But he doesn’t enjoy chewing the toys as much and quickly gets bored with them – usually after only a few seconds! I think that he prefers to chew things that offered some fight / resistance – like clothes I’m wearing, skin, or the other dog! He’s more willing to play with toys if I’ll play with it with him – for instance a rope toy.
Chisel’s favourite things to chew are:
- My lawn!! He tears the buffalo runners out of my lawn.
- The plastic meshing that we put all around our garden to protect all our recently planted Australian natives (refer to Puppy Proofing blog). He even managed to chew a puppy-sized hole in the plastic mesh and was found on the garden side of the netting!
- A tree branch
- Cardboard toilet rolls and beer 6-packs