My puppy bites…

Will he grow out of it?

My puppy bites…

She’s teething, right?

My puppy bites…

Is he just playing?

Unfortunately, the answer can be yes and no.

Here’s what we mean…

My puppy bites. Will he grow out of it?

Puppies like human toddlers use their teeth to chew, gnaw, explore and play. Unlike humans, adult dogs use also their teeth to chew, gnaw, explore and play. A quick answer is therefore – no—unless you address the biting, there is a good chance your puppy’s behavior will continue into adulthood. If you do address the issue, see what we recommend below, your pup will learn that gnawing on appropriate materials is not just permitted, but encouraged, whereas inappropriate biting is not.

My puppy bites. She’s teething, right?

Puppies lose their needle-sharp baby teeth around the age of four months. The 28 baby teeth are replaced with 42 adult canine teeth, which include molars. The fact that puppies’ teeth are changing is not why they bite. Dogs in general and puppies in particular have a hereditary and fundamental need to gnaw. If you substitute appropriate materials—bully sticks and natural bones—for inappropriate materials—skin, ankles, bathrobes, coats, leashes, scarves, chair legs, rugs, etc, you will find the teething process easier to handle.

My puppy bites. Is he just playing?

He might be playing, or he might be angry at being yanked on a short leash, or he might be frustrated by rough play with no down time, or he might have learned that biting starts a very fun game, or gets him his way, or simply chomping feels good. The real question is, my puppy bites. What should I do?

Here’s what we recommend:

Biting often occurs during play or transition times. If there is a pattern to biting episodes, (ie, rough play, play with young kids, zoomies and that hour before bed), take the time to dress your dog for success. Put a leash on the pup in advance. When the behavior happens, step on the leash. Stop your dog’s momentum. Walk up the leash or take the leash in your hand. Approach your dog in a calm manner. Answer your pup’s question—may I bite you? by settling your dog. Yelling NO! to a dog is not an effective means of communication. Neither is exciting the dog with yelps, screams or an instant time out. If you can, allow your dog to release on her own.  Always offer a gentle, quiet, reward for doing so.