The 4 Main Reasons Your Puppy Bites & What To Do About It

December 7, 2021
December 7, 2021

Bites. I know it’s like the biggest complaint most people have when they first get a puppy or even after they get a puppy, is those wickedly sharp needle teeth, right?

Those teeth are vicious! They cause a lot of damage, they cause a lot of pain. And the answer to puppy Biting is not a simple one, right? It causes a lot of frustration.

Please note!
This post has been mainly AI Generated from the video below! If you notice any weird phrasing?
Ping me an email and let me know, because I clearly missed it when editing!

The Biting Is Normal

The first thing I really want you to know is that this is a perfectly normal puppy behaviour, if you have yet to get your puppy. This is normal, this is what’s going to happen. I’ve never known a puppy to not be a buy a chewy puppy, because that’s how they explore the world.

Please don’t think that either your puppy is broken, because they bite too much that they are aggressive because they bite too much, or anything in that area, I want you to know that this is a perfectly normal puppy behaviour.

It’s perfectly normal, because this is how your puppy explores the world. This is how they can elicit a reaction from weather to find out whether something is dead or alive. That’s actually why their teeth are as sharp as they are.

Because young puppies don’t have the jaw strength that an adult dog does. Their teeth are sharp so that when they bite something like me, or you, you go out, and they go, “Oh, that’s alive.”

That’s how they learn. They’re exploring!

And it’s actually the biggest way of communicating at this age. Because I’m hoping that you’re not letting this go too long. Because it’s not good for you if it’s going too long. And if you are late, go a little bit longer than it possibly should. This live should really help. Um, so let’s start with why.

Why Your Puppy Bites

Let’s start with why a puppy may be biting you. Because it’s always best to know the why. Before we get into the like, what to do, okay, cuz, sure your puppies biting you.

If we don’t know why they’re biting you and what they’re trying to say and what they’re trying to communicate, you’re not going to be able to solve that as easy as you could if you did. And I find, again, that’s where like, you know, the cogs don’t line out occasionally.

That’s where I find some of the frustration is born from. I want to tell you a little bit about why Murphy’s Law I want to tell you a little bit about why your puppy bites and why. What’s going on in their little puppy brains, when that’s going on.

If you can get that you can figure out how to tackle it, right?

Puppy Sleep!

The biggest the single biggest reason if we were to isolate it to one reason because usually, it’s a bit of a combo, so you know, just makes it all nice and leaner, more of a puzzle, but that’s fine. We can deal with puzzles, puzzles are acceptable.

if your puppy bites redirection can work really well, but it has to be in the right context.
if your puppy bites redirection can work really well, but it has to be in the right context.

The biggest reason usually is overtiredness.

Usually when your puppy gets tired, they get cranky, and they’re gonna bite you more than they would at any other stage of the day. It is pretty much the exact same as what a child or a toddler will go through when they’re learning.

They get overtired and they get cranky and then all of a sudden tears. Um, yeah, so you get tears them and it’s one of those things that is inevitable, essentially, when puppy, you know, starts learning what to do, where to go and how to do it.

Over-Arousal

Ever seen your pup go into zoomies?

The next big one is over-arousal, which is not anything sexual in any way, shape, or form. It’s just a trainer term that we use to say that they’ve gone overboard on their excitement and overboard on what they want to do and they’ve just kicked into this other gear of crazy essentially and shockingly, that crazy puppy ends up biting more.

Pretty simple stuff.

Teething

Teething this by the way, whilst is something that that happens a lot, and is a very strong reason for puppy biting, teething is a phase of development, but it’s not a phase that they’re going to get through the end of and go, “Oh, I suddenly now know not to bite my I know not to chew on Dad”.

Whilst it is a phase of development, they are not going to learn appropriate behaviour just because they’ve left that phase of development, you have to teach.

Teething and that phase of development, they will get worse with biting, because their teeth hurt and in some masochistic way, and the only way they can alleviate that pain is by chewing. So vicious circle, right? P

uppy bites, more teeth hurt, Puppy bites, more teeth up until it stops.

And it does mean that you know, you’re going to have a bit of a rough ride during that, which is why I thoroughly encourage my puppy parents to resolve puppy biting before the teething stage, which comes in at about 14 or 16 weeks.

It’s a bit of a turd, I’m not gonna lie, because that’s when they’re going to really start like focusing on inappropriate things to chew on, which could be you it might be your furniture, it might be your cat! Only kidding…

Fear…

there is the regular dog fears, and that they may be biting, which is fear. And I’m really, truly hoping that your puppy is not biting because of fear. And if they are, that’s something we can talk about. And I’m not going to talk about much on this live because it’s quite a specific thing that we need to talk about in that instance. And it’s a little bit too sensitive for alive.

What Can You Do?

remember that Biting is just their way of communicating, they are not doing it to hurt you, they are not doing it to, to get at you, they are not doing it to deliberately hurt you. This is just their way of communicating. We just have to understand what they’re saying.

How can you teach them that it’s inappropriate to bite people?

When your dog grows up, and they become a very large dog, or even a very small dog, I really don’t care what size they are. They put teeth on a human when they are fully grown, that’s just not acceptable is it?

So we have to teach them that the way to say ask for play, we have to teach them the way to, like:

  • Cope with their tiredness
  • Express their desires without teeth meeting human skin
  • Appropriate ways to play with humans
if you have a biting puppy, chews are great to help them settle and focus their sharp teeth on something they're allowed to chew on
if you have a biting puppy, chews are great to help them settle and focus their sharp teeth on something they’re allowed to chew on

Redirecting Play

So a lot of the reason that puppies buy is that they want to play if they want to play?

Redirection is what you need. Because as soon as you go I thought I might have had a toy on my desk and I don’t and as soon as you go, hey puppy, this is this is not right.

This is what we play with his a stuffed elephant which is my favourite for him and probably his favourite. And this is how we play. This is how you play with me. And this is the appropriate way to do so. As soon as you start guiding them in that and you do it consistently.

The way you actually do that is essentially to get that toy. Make that toy, the most fun thing in the whole wide world and make sure it intercepts every attempt for your puppy to bite you. And make sure that their teeth end up on the toy.

I ended up actually doing this so well, accidentally with Indie, when he was young that he will now no longer roughhouse with a single human being, even when my husband tries desperately he will do it, he goes, he will run off all excited and come back with a toy, because he’s like, this is what we play with that. This is what we do. And it’s like, Ah, look at that!

So it does work. And it’s my point.

And all you’ve got to do is just keep being consistent. And keep trying, essentially, the more you do this, and the more consistent you are applying it, the better the result will be. And the quicker the result will be, which I know is really important. And I will come back to that.

chewing and biting inappropriate things may be a sign that they're teething...
chewing and biting inappropriate things may be a sign that they’re teething…

Biting Because Of Overtiredness

The overtiredness, and this does involve a teeny tiny bit of observation from you. So you need to watch pop, you need to know roughly how much sleep they should be getting that is something that I do include in my pupdates.

So every week you will get a this week they need X amount of sleep and it will vary depending on their age.

Because you know, not drastically because a young puppy needs 20 hours a day, and a full grown dog needs between 14 and 16 hours a day.

Shelby is very passionate about getting her 16 hours of sleep, trust me on that one. And it makes her a lot nicer and a dog to deal with. And the same is true of your puppy. So give them as many naps as you physically can.

Because the more naps you give them the better rested they are, the more even-tempered they’re going to be, the less likely they are going to be to go to that extreme the over tiredness gives them because, like I said earlier, they are like an overtired toddler.

And so yeah, it’s one of those things that you’ve got to kind of choose the right solution for the right problem and diagnosing that problem is sometimes a little bit tough up. And I promise I am still talking about puppy writing. We’ve not ventured into veterinary yet.

So yeah, structured naps for an overtired dog is really a puppy is really, really important.

Observe

And you may actually notice when you start like observing in like the finer details, that it’s around seven o’clock every night that they get extra bite, that they get really zoomie and that they get totally like lay down John, essentially with their day. And at that stage, you’ve got an okay 7:30 or 7-ish.

That they need to be down for a nap before that happens.

Ideally, we don’t want to get him into that stage. Because we want to miss that stage. So that they can go to sleep. And not reinforce that biting mom, or biting dad or biting the kids is an acceptable thing.

The more they do it, the more they’re going to learn to do it again. So the less we can create that opportunity for them to do so, the easier it’s going to be for us to contain the bites and do what we need to do with the rest of them.

So you know, if basically, if we can avoid a problem with the problem, you know what I mean?

It’s it’s not not dealing with it, it’s just structurally being sensible about things. And once they learn, you know, through play and through life, generally, that putting teeth on a human is not acceptable.

That will fall into place even when they are tired.

I think this little puppy is tired somehow, maybe that's why he's biting
I think this little puppy is tired somehow, maybe that’s why he’s biting

The Over excited, Over-aroused, Over Stimulated biter…

The other time biting becomes a big, big problem is when you’re playing, right?

We’ve you’ve I know I’ve had it with puppies and I like you just you rile them up that little bit too much. Just that little smidgen and then all of a sudden, it’s like you see this sort of haze of crazy just descend?

And whilst it’s hilarious, like especially when you sing got notes and I’m laughing even just thinking about it because I’ve had a puppy client recently, who’s very, very excitable and I mean, typical golden retriever, Puppy, especially going through a puppy, but definitely going through, and you just see a little haze of crazy just descend, and all of a sudden he’s gone.

And as adorable as it is, it also creates an opportunity for them to do to exhibit behaviour, we don’t want them to exhibit which is biting shopping, which is what we’re talking about. Um, and again, it just means that we then have to try and keep a very fine balance on pay.

The graph…

And I’m, I’m a real believer that a big part of dog training is taking out what I call the spikes. So if you were to map your dog’s day on a graph, um, can you tell I’ve got a physics and like accounting background, sometimes good God. But if you mapped it out on a graph.

So like, they may get a spike when you take them out in the morning, going, Oh, really excited, really happy, overly excited. And then you know, they’re going to come back down, they’re going to sink a little bit more.

Then they’re going to sort of even out and then they might spike again around the next time you go out or around playtime or are from nap or whatever it is. And they also can sink the other way, which would be like a low point. Or we could say like aggression. But in a puppy, that’s not really going to happen. And that’s more something I use with older reactive dogs.

So don’t worry about that with your puppy. Because puppies don’t typically understand aggression. But yeah, so those spikes we want to try and even those out, we want to kind of bring that down and make it less of a leap up. And more of just like a hill, a gentle little hill, that evens itself that goes up and evens itself out nicely. Because that spike, that that sharp leap to like 100, essentially is going to create is going to encourage that over-arousal.

If we can kind of keep them in the nice little safe zone, instead of pushing them straight into that crazy mode. It means again, that we’re not facilitating their need desire, or, essentially, we’re not pushing them into that point where they can no longer exhibit self-control, okay, because the whole thing is we’re teaching them self control.

When that spike comes up, it just means that they find it so so difficult to focus on you on what they should do. And all the roles just kind of go straight out the window. And that’s what we don’t want, we want nice even play.

So try not to get them too excited, is kind of the bottom line of that entire speech.

I want to really quickly on the back of that, say that, that excitement is also something that is really imperative when we talk about dogs, puppies, nipping biting kids.

play bites - two littermates playing and biting one another
two littermates playing and biting one another – this is just how puppies play. it doesn’t mean they see you or your child as a replacement for their littermates, it’s just that this is the only way they know how to play!

Explaining the problem of Puppies biting & Kids

this is why puppies and children are really really tough because your child and tends to be an incredibly exciting part of your dog or puppies life, okay? Which means that that spike happens when they see your kid because a child’s fear and the noises they make when they’re scared and the actions they take when they’re scared. I pretty much a categoric list like if you bullet point it then that they match very, very well.

What excites a dog of what makes like encourages play from a dog. High pitched squealing I mean, it’s not a sensor, but that is something that the prey drive works on. Running away. Yep, now the one of the prey drive, right, um, and then like flailing arms everywhere or whatever.

Again, similar, and it’s just, again, I don’t mean to say that your puppy is looking at your child as prey that is not the thing. It’s just our dogs essentially play and prey drive ran on the same scale. So they, they live in a little world together.

Because the way mammals generally learn to hunt, if they were wild, is by practising play behaviours with siblings, pack mates, whatever sort of structure they have in their little society. That’s how they learn how to do a lot of this stuff. So, play and prey drive are intimately related. That is not to say that your dog is going to eat your baby.

This can actually can also lend itself to a specific person too, I know that I asked my audience and one of them came back and said that their puppy tends to bite their husband or their partner more than they buy them.

Not to lie, this is very, very common, because it’s like our, our other halves, sometimes don’t use the same methodologies that we use and that can be really tough. But the important part is that your puppy learns, generally speaking, that we don’t put teeth on people, okay, that teeth on people bear is not acceptable. If there’s one person that is an exception to that rule. That’s not the worst thing in that world in the world.

We do want to try and make sure that our pup understands that. And they are going to learn quicker, if you and your partner take a united approach to things, the only thing I’m going to be very, very subtle with and say there. Because this is something that you and your partner are going to have to iron out.

Positive reinforcement, which is the technique that we tend to use with our dogs, and it’s scientifically proven to be the best way of dealing with our dogs, also works on humans.

This is not to say I don’t want you going out and getting a clicker and conditioning your partner to do absolutely like to go do the dishes.

fingers shouldn't be bitten, but we know that, right?
fingers shouldn’t be bitten, but we know that, right?

But How Long Before They Stop Biting Me?

So another question I get asked a lot is like, or I see problems with a lot is the speed of which our puppy will or will not start, like responding to this training. I’m not gonna lie, it does take time, it takes consistency, and it takes you to apply it across the board.

And it takes, which is really, really tough, right, because our puppies tend to be exhausting. Even when we do only have over four hours a day, it’s just like, oh my god, you work full time job. And I totally get that you’re probably utterly knackered, and you just kind of want to go for a nap.

You don’t want to have to do all this the whole time. But that is what it takes. And if you do practice it consistently, it will take I’ve had huge strides, and I mean like 90% 95% from about sort of 10 or 20% to about 90 95%. So like an 80% Jump within a week. And when it goes from being bitten the entire time that you’re with your puppy, pretty much to every now and then when they just lose control a little bit, which, you know, is happens we all lose control every now and then.

When you can do that within a week, within seven days, that doesn’t feel as bad I find so I’ve seen massive, massive strides in that amount of time. And you can do it quicker. But not please don’t expect it to be working the first time you try it is kind of my point.

So yeah. Remember again, I’m going to end Besides that your puppy will not grow out of this, this is not something they will just magically learn to do unless you teach them. Okay? It does need to be a consistent approach, you do need to be patient, and it will take time. While whilst I know, that’s really frustrating, please bear with us, because they are trying. And they are very much trying to be a part of our world and they are learning so much. So the more sympathy you can give them at this stage, the easier it’s going to be for you in the long run.

But if you’ve got any questions after this, by all means, just ping me a message.

And I am happy to help.

If you need more help with your pup, go check out the Pupdates because they are really useful. I kind of poured my heart and soul into them. So yeah, if you want a little slice of my soul for $24.99 Go get it!

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!

 

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