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Avoiding Puppy Biting

Help your puppy learn the right and wrong way to go to the toilet


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Going to the toilet is one of the most natural things in the world, but you will need to spend some time helping your puppy understand when and where it’s OK. It’s one of the first things you should teach your puppy, and it’s worth picking up some hints and tips before you bring your pet home. That way you’ll be ready to get started as soon as your puppy needs to go.

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Why Do They Playbite?

Puppies play bite because this is how they would play with the other puppies in their litter. ‘Rough-housing’ is part of day to day activity between pups, and puppies actually have to learn the difference between how to play with them and how to play with you. Sadly as puppies get older, if they don’t learn this distinction, their play-style doesn’t change and their increased strength and adult teeth can make play dangerous.

Learning to regulate how hard teeth come down, and what is and is not ok to bite on, is called ‘bite inhibition’.

Although some owners may like to play rough with their dogs, it’s important to consider if the behaviours will still be ok when your dog is fully grown and has adult teeth. It’s also important to consider that your dog may interact with people who are not as capable of playing rough, such as children or the elderly. Making sure your dog is never in a position where they could accidentally injure someone is the best way to protect them and those around them.

For more information on safe play and handling, see our puppy handling page

Teaching Not To Bite

Within a litter environment, puppies learn when they have gone too far because one puppy will cry out or squeal. At this point, play stops, so puppies quickly learn the limits. Training to prevent puppy biting uses this principle, to make sure your puppy learns that when playing with people teeth are off limits. 

Tips for training safe play: 

  • Say ‘ouch’ whenever your puppy’s teeth come into contact with your skin and pull your hand away. Stop play for a few seconds, so your puppy knows that using their teeth leads to the fun stopping!
  • If your puppy is playing well, don’t forget to praise them! Rewarding good behaviour is the best way to encourage your puppy to do that behaviour again. 
  • Don’t use your hand as a toy – this is really confusing for a puppy, as it’s harder for them to learn what they can and can’t use their teeth on. Always use size and development stage appropriate dog toys. 
  • Don’t give your dog a treat if he is licking, biting or pawing at your hand. You want to help your dog understand that he will never get a treat with these behaviours. Wait until he is calm and a little back from your hand before you give any tasty tit-bits! 
  • Puppies like to chew, so if your puppy is trying to chew on your hands or feet, give them something appropriate to chew on instead so they don’t feel frustrated. 
  • Be patient and understanding – mouthing is normal behaviour for a puppy, so it’s