Simple Technique to Stop Your Puppy from Mouthing, Biting and Nipping!!

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Puppy Mouthing and Chewing

Puppy Mouthing, Biting and Nipping…and a Simple Technique that will help you put a stop to it..

First off its important to know…  your 8-16 wk old puppy is most likely not showing true aggression when they mouth and nip you.

Mouthing, Biting and Nipping are all perfectly normal behavior for a young puppy and part of their development.

BUT… Just because puppy nipping and mouthing is considered natural and normal… doesn’t mean you should continue to allow it. You also don’t want to encourage it by letting them nipple on your fingers either. 

It just means we shouldn’t punish them or decide straight away that your puppy’s aggressive. This is a normal puppy behavior we can train them to stop, using the same simple technique their littermates and Moms used.

Puppies don’t have hands, so they investigate new objects with their mouths.

To a curious puppy, everything about this world is brand new and exciting. They’re learning as they go and it’s up to us to teach them right from wrong.

You can almost hear their thought processes when they’re discovering something new:

  • “Hmmm…what’s this? [chomping on it]
  • Something to eat? No? [tossing it around]
  • Can I play with it? Maybe.
  • Can I make it squeak?!!!”

Can I make YOU Squeak? Oh yeah.. sorry about that!

When puppies are “play biting” their littermates or on their Mom’s tail or nipples, they quickly learn a bite that’s too hard will not only lose them a playmate… but possibly a late dinner.. depending how strict Mom is. 

DEFINITION: Bite inhibition, sometimes referred to as a soft mouth (a term which also has a distinct meaning), is a behavior in carnivorans (dogs, cats, etc.) whereby the animal learns to moderate the strength of its bite. It is an important factor in the socialization of pets.

Littermates & Bite Inhibition

Hey that’s my ear!!

Bite inhibition is one of the most important social skills that puppies begin to learn from their Mothers and littermates.

Puppies start to learn bite inhibition from their littermates and Mom

Puppy checking… if his Mom’s ear taste as good as that stick?

Between 6-8 weeks puppies start to really play together and they can also get pretty rough!

Puppies “wrestle” and mouth and nip on eachother’s ears, face and tails.. but if one of the puppy’s bites TOO HARD,  the other puppy will let out a very high pitch “YELP”!! Letting their sibling know.. “Hey Dood! That was WAY too hard” and they’ll walk away!! 

The offending puppy is usually pretty startled and taken aback that they hurt their sibling, while the offended puppy walks off to either find another sibling to play with or just stops playing altogether (for a minute) but either way.. their version of “Puppy MMA”.. starts up again!

These interactions continue on a loop until eventually the puppies learn from eachother how to modify their behaviour by easing back on the strength of their bite in order to continue play.. this is how littermates teach eachother “Bite Inhibition”.

This is also why it’s so important for puppies to remain with their littermates and Mom for at least the first 8 wks of their life.

Puppies who are sent home to early like at 6 wks.. unfortunately, for both the puppy and their owner, will miss out on learning some of these important social ques.

A very simple behavior modification technique. That teaches lifelong socialization skills.

Mother and baby bulldog love bites

Love Bites – Puppy and Mama!

Dog Moms have a slightly different technique but basically the same concept. If one of their puppies bites her nipples or tail too hard (depending on the Mom), she’ll either growl and run off OR with stricter Moms, she’ll just growl until the puppy stops and rolls over on their back into the.. “I surrender” position. They’ll very rarely YELP or bite back.

Most canine mothers are very patient and loving but when need be.. can also be pretty strict. Dog Moms teach their puppies important lessons about boundries and social ques.

Canine behaviorists have claimed that puppies raised by a stricter Mom, are actually easier to train and make better companions! I can see why that would be true.

Goldendoodle Mom and her puppy

Doodle Mama being protective of her shy baby.. 

Ok, Ok now that I’ve explained all the why’s and how’s about littermates and Moms and how they teach eachother bite inhibition.. Now how you can teach your puppy…to stop biting you!!

When you take a puppy home, they might try to play bite you and your family and friends, exactly how they did with they’re siblings. That’s how they know how to play… until we teach them otherwise…

Polar-Pup-Attack

THE SIMPLE YELP TECHNIQUE:

Luckily, we can use the same behavior modification technique that littermates use with eachother to put a stop to puppy nipping and biting! JUST YELP!!

  • Whenever your puppy’s teeth touch your skin, let out a high-pitched “YELP, it’s really that simple..
  • The Yelp alone should startle them enough to stop them in their tracks and you should see an instant reaction in their face.
  • If they ignore you.. then you might not be doing it loud enough or high pitch enough.
  • Dont be shy to YELP! Yes, you’re gonna sound kinda crazy.. just believe me this works and it works quickly. 
  • Stop all play and interaction for a good 30-40 seconds or so.
  • Turn your head or back on them, no eye contact. If it was really hard I’ll walk away completely…you don’t need to say anything more then the YELP!
  • After you’ve waited 30-40 seconds of zero interaction or eye contact, you can continue play and this time bring a chew toy they can chew on.
  • If you feel their teeth again, yelp, ignore and resume.. do this in a loop until they get it.
  • Ask everyone whose going to be in contact with your puppy to do the same. Tell them not to be shy about it too. 
  • BE CONSISTENT! THIS IS KEY.
  • Even when your puppy’s bite doesn’t hurt, you should still pretend that it does with a YELP of pseudo-pain. This teaches them that no amount of biting on humans is OK.

The puppy will begin to get the idea, thinking, “Whooahh! These humans are sooo super-sensitive. I’ll have to be much more gentle.”

Labradoodle Ava and her Bones

Labradoodle Ava and her Bones

The force of the puppy’s bite will progressively decrease until biting becomes mouthing and eventually, mouthing will succumb to licking or just plain slobbering. 


YOUR FINGERS ARE NOT CHEW TOYS

images (1)Don’t invite your puppy to nipple by sticking your fingers in your puppies mouth.

Mouthing your fingers and hands might be cute for now.. but it won’t be cute when they’re teeth are MUCH bigger.

Your puppy eventually figures out that it’s not just you who’s “overly sensitive” but it’s ALL these big and little humans.


THE IMPORTANCE OF CHEW TOYS!!

Teething puppies crave to bite, so make sure to provide them with plenty of teething and chew toys

TOYS not only help with painful teething but they also help you to avoid bored puppy syndrome... a bored puppy may start biting on you just to get some interaction or attention.. if there are no good chewy toys around then they WILL find something to chew like maybe your shoes or basically anything else laying around that they can sink their soar or bored teeth into. 

CHEAPEST DOG TOYS

Don’t have a toy on hand? Puppies also LOVE simple things like toilet paper rolls and socks tied in a knot or as silly as it sounds…they LOVE plastic containers (like the empty yoplait yogurt containers)! You don’t have to spend a fortune on dog toys to keep your puppy entertained and away from your things.

There’s lots of DIY dog toys you can make at home for next to nothing. You can also visit your local dollar tree and buy them a bunch of those rope toys and cheap stuffed animal toys for a buck a piece!

READ MY POST ON DIY DOG TOYS! 

Toys, Toys and more toys! Don’t bring them out all at once but hide some away and swap out different toys every few days so they stay interested.


USING TOYS TO REDIRECT YOUR PUPPY’S BITING? WHEN AND WHEN NOT TO DO IT…

Make sure check out our list of appropriate chew toys and bones.

Giving your teething puppy something they CAN chew teaches them that chewing on you is obviously NO FUN but chewing on this amazing toy or bone is GREAT FUN!!

Just make sure to use the YELP technique first… and then give them a toy. You dont want to unintentionally reward the behavior and teach them that biting on you.. automatically makes you produce a fun chew toy or yummy bone!

Puppies and Dogs are very intune when it comes to learning cause and effect. I think sometimes, even better then us humans. ;)

Alot of dog trainers will say to automatically redirect puppies with a toy when they bite. I have to disagree with that one.

There should be some time seperation between the bite and providing them with a toy. I believe the YELP and giving them 30-40 seconds of no interaction at all works best to teach them that the cause and effect of their bite doesnt get them a reward it means.. “Hey, you hurt me and now I don’t want to play anymore… but maybe I’ll bring a toy next time we play and we can start over“.

Hope that makes sense? I am not a professional dog trainer. I’ve just raised enough puppies to know what works.


WHEN DOES TEETHING END!?

Pele and her teeth

My husband showing me our Poodle puppy and her missing teeth…

 

By 8 week a puppy has all their baby teeth. As the puppy grows between eight and sixteen weeks, the head and jaw will grow, which will cause the teeth to have spaces between them. They will also start to look too small for the puppy’s mouth

Teething starts in earnest around 14-16 weeks old. That’s when the puppy teeth are gradually pushed out by the permanent adult teeth.

Between sixteen weeks and eight months, all the baby teeth fall out and are replaced with their permanent adult teeth. They start in the front with the incisors.

The baby teeth are replaced in order through the mouth. The older your puppy is, the farther back the transitioning between the teeth will be.

  • Most baby teeth are all gone by five months, and all adult teeth will be visible between eight to twelve months.

Once your puppy has all their adult teeth – most the obsessive and/or destructive type chewing pretty much stops or at least slows way down.

Dogs will always enjoy chewing on a bone or a toy but you’ll see FAR less incidents of them chewing up stuff they’re not supposed to or mouthing on you. This also depends (like with everything) on the individual puppy. All puppies are so different. I’ve had dogs who have never chewed up anything they weren’t supposed to again after 5-6 months and then others who seem to love chewing up stuff no matter how old they get.

Puppy proofing your environment is extremely helpful during the teething stage…or more like absolutely nessesary! Don’t leave out your most expensive things, at puppy level because they’ll probably get chewed up! Period.

TEETHING TIP: Frozen wash cloths and dog toys you can freeze.. feel good on their soar gums and loose teeth.

Read More: Puppy Teething Timeline


Puppy Play Rules and Consistency

DON’T PLAY ROUGH GAMES WITH YOUR PUPPY…

PLAYING ROUGH GAMES WITH YOUR YOUNG MOUTHY PUPPY.. will only encourage your puppy to bite even more and can give them the wrong idea.

You should encourage other forms of play during this stage of development that won’t entice them to nip & bite on you but to bite on a toy or bone instead.

Mini Chocolate Aussiedoodle Goose with 2 balls - Puppy Vaccine Protocol

Examples can be playing fetch with a ball or a game of tug of war with a rope toy (not your clothes).

You may of heard dog trainer advice that discourages you from playing games of tug of war with dogs and puppies because they say it can cause aggression… but I believe this depends on the puppy, how excitable they are and how you’re playing games of tug of war.

Mercy May Dreamydoodles Aussiedoodle

Why Playing Tug of War With Your Puppy Can Be A Positive Game..

  • Tug of war is an excellent way to bond with your dog or puppy
  • Tug of war lets your puppy tap into their natural instincts to chew and bite but without biting on you
  • Tug of war gives your dog an outlet for energy and an opportunity for physical exercise, even when you can’t go outdoors
  • Tug of war teaches dogs about your rules and your boundaries.

TRAINING YOUR PUPPY WHILE PLAYING TUG OF WAR…

Tug of war is a good game that wears your puppy  out while teaching them to focus. It’s also a good way to introduce the “take it” and “drop it” commands.

Encourage your puppy to grab an appropriate toy for playing tug-of-war, then hold up a treat as they pull and shake the toy, and then say “drop it”.

Give them the treat only when they release their grip on the toy.

Keep in mind that a puppy’s joints are still developing and puppy teeth are sharp – so don’t get too carried away. If your puppy becomes overstimulated or aggressive with the game, stop the game and walk away WITH the toy.

By abruptly ending the activity, your puppy learns that playtime continues only when their not being aggressive and you say so. They’re not the one in control. If they continue the unwanted behavior, then it’s best to find another game to play.

Read More: The 3 Rules of Playing Tug of War Without Encouraging Aggression in Dogs

Two Goofy Labradoodles Playing with a container and a ball? Sometimes a puppy’s favorite toy ends up being the least expensive or something you meant to throw away.

Learning Games to Play with Your Puppy

Learning games can help you to teach your puppy basic commands, show them how you want them to behave, help them to learn to focus on you, and most importantly – form a close and strong bond.

 

  • Come. Create a circle with family and friends sitting on the floor. …Create a circle with family and friends sitting on the floor. Make sure everyone has a supply of treats. Put the puppy in the middle of the circle and take turns calling him to come. When he does, give him a treat, praise and ear scratching. Don’t get too rough with him so he doesn’t get overly excited. This is a good way to teach your puppy the come/recall command, as well as work on socialization.
  • Fetch. Ask your pup to sit and stay, then toss the toy a short distance away. The “get it” command is his cue to fetch. Call him back to you with “bring it,” and ask him to “drop it” in your hand or at your feet. Now that’s a lot of commands for a puppy to learn, so be patient and consistent, and give treats and plenty of praise for each command he performs. He’ll get the hang of the game, and learn some lifesaving commands in the process.
  • Brain Games. Puppies are very capable of learning the names of common items around the house, as well as names of other pets and human family members. Stimulating the mind is also exercising it, and helps your pup work off some energy.
  • Simple Tricks. Teaching your puppy tricks helps him learn to focus on you. Simple tricks include learning basic commands all dogs should know. When he knows sit, come, stay and down, then he’s ready to learn more complicated tricks like roll over, turn around and play dead.

Keep puppy play and training sessions short and sweet; around 10-15 minutes; to avoid overstimulating them or worse.. boring them. End all Training sessions with a success and reward. Training should always be a positive experience. Training that seems more like a game then a lesson are always the quickest way to teach new commands.

PUPPIES AND LITTLE KIDS

Charlie and her new kids - Going Home!

Charlie and her new kids – Going Home!

A young puppies playful excitment can be pretty overwhelming especially for younger children. Puppies have very little self control or self-awareness, they have sharp teeth and nails and they love to jump on people and kids!

Aussiedoodle Baby going home

While puppies LOVE little kids… Not all little kids feel the same way about obnoxious puppies! Especially, large breed puppies who are almost as big as a toddler and can easily knock them over and possibly hurt them. 

Supervising your young puppy with your young children as well as other people’s children is super important (not to mention polite) but this goes both ways. Kids can also be pretty rough with puppies too.

Kids need to be taught what is an acceptable way to play with a puppy, how handle a puppy and how to read a puppies ques. I do not recommend allowing your kids to carry your puppy around for fun. Puppies can be heavy and its important to support their bottoms and not all little kids are strong enough to do this causing the puppies legs to dangle.

Young boy and his Mini Aussiedoodle… and he is holding him correctly!

Most puppies do not enjoy being carried around unless maybe some of toy size breeds..all I know is the size of dogs we breed, don’t enjoy it. They dont mind being picked up for a minute or picked up and moved but they’re not big fans of just being carried around for fun. Have younger kids sit on the ground with the puppy and play.

Young Kids can also get bit by a dog or puppy because they don’t know yet how to read a dogs body language or vocal ques.. like growling, twisting, whining etc.

I dont recommend kids rough housing, play wrestling or chase games with your young puppy, not until your puppy is older and has more self awareness and control and fully understands the no bite rule.

Alot of younger kids love to get puppies to chase them!! While it may seem like a fun game for both parties and it does wear them out…  puppies can also get overstimulated, instincts kick in and the game ends with unwanted nipping and biting or kids getting knocked over..A crying child is never fun.

THE DADS AND KIDS WHO LIKE TO PLAY ROUGH!

My husband holding Teddy the Aussiedoodle

The “no rough play rule” can be harder to follow for some of our Dads (my husband) and kids who really like to play rough with their puppy.. but its important to explain why its better too keep playtime with your young puppy less of a contact sport and more like chill banter.. at least for now…

Eventually, most dogs do learn to “play rougher games” without getting mouthy.

Adult dogs can also learn what kind of play is OK with certain family members, and not with others. Like my dogs know not to jump or mouth me but my husband loves to be more physical with them which is fine as long as they know when to stop and whose off limits. This also takes time, training and a maturity level puppies dont yet have.

Poodles and Doodles are extremely intelligent dogs but as young puppies they’re just not as sophisticated or even slef aware enough to grasp individual boundaries… yet.

Some puppies get the “no teeth rule” right away and mouthing/biting is never an issue again once they learn – especially once teething is over – but some puppies take longer and are just naturally more mouthy. Every puppy is unique.

Put in the time. Be patient and consistent and your puppy will eventually get there too.

Puppy Training classes are another GREAT IDEA for puppy owners and their puppies to learn how to train basic commands and also a great way to socialize your puppy with other puppies their age!

You can take a 6 wk training course at Petsmart or Petco for around $100 and it’s so worth it!

VISIT OUR POST ON THE BEST CHEW TOYS FOR TEETHING PUPPIES AND DOGS WHO JUST LOVE TOYS!

10 OF THE BEST TOYS AND CHEWS FOR DOODLE PUPPIES POST BANNER

Puppy Teething Alternatives to your skin and your shoes…

I can not recommend these Beef Gullet Chew Sticks enough for our puppy families! They can help keep your puppy occupied during crate training, help you during teething and also help give them a positive association to the crate, car rides, etc..

Slim Beef Gullet Sticks!

5-6″ Dog Chews, case of 25 to 50 on Amazon or Chewy!

Bones & Chews Slim Beef Gullet Stick 5-6" Dog Treats, case of 25

Bones & Chews Slim Beef Gullet Stick 5-6" Dog Treats, case of 25

Also another great article is TEACHING BITE INHIBITION – Relief from puppy mouthing by Melissa Alexander


THE PUPPY LAWS REGARDING THE AGE PUPPIES CAN BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR LITTERMATES & MOM

Moyen Poodle Puppies - Moyen Puppy Litter - Treating Coccidia in Puppies

Puppies start learning bite inhibition from their siblings and Mom. Puppies learn so much from eachother, it’s an actual law (in over 18 states) that puppies must remain with their littermates and Mother until they are at least 8 wks old.

As a breeder myself, I think this is a GREAT law and I wish it was in all 50 states.. especially, if it’s enforced… but unfortunately, there’s still a lot of irresponsible and uneducated dog breeders who send their dog’s puppies home between 4-6 wks old.

I can only speculate why people do this.. but my guess is it’s either because they don’t want to take care of the puppies any longer then they absolutely have to or they’re just totally clueless and uneducated about puppy development and the importance of early socialization in general. I’m not sure which is worse.

READ MORE: The True Cost Of Early Removal Of A Puppy From Its Mother And Litter Mates by SnowDogGuru.com

Aussiedoodle Puppy at 6 weeks old

One of our Aussiedoodle Puppies at 6 weeks old

Between 6 to 8 weeks old puppies have a HUGE social awakening! This is the age when puppies really start to play with eachother, learn to eat solid kibble that’s not moistened for them.

Between 1-4 weeks old, a litter of puppies will spend most of their day nursing and sleeping and this is done on repeat. They’ll gently paw and nibble on eachother (when they’re awake) but what you would consider true puppy play, doesnt start until 5-6 wks old.

Aussiedoodle Puppy play mouthing

6 wk old Mini Aussiedoodle playing!

PUPPY BUYER BEWARE

I’ve seen far too many posts from frustrated puppy owners online, who are struggling with their new puppy’s behavior problems only to find out that they’re so-called “breeder” sent their puppy home at 6 wks old..

The most common reason I’ve seen these “puppy sellers” use is “Mom was done weaning them” which is true, canine mothers are usually done weaning their puppies by 5 to 6 wks old…but they’ve JUST stopped nursing at 6 wks and some Moms nurse for 7-8 wks.

Nutrition is not the issue here though.. it’s the important social skills!

It literally takes 2 seconds and a Google search to learn how old a puppy should be before sending them home.

“Wags” she went home with her new family to Seattle Read more: https://www.dreamydoodles.com/2013-multi-gen-labradoodle-puppies-hershey-tippy/#ixzz2ZkViFoLC Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike Follow us: @Dreamydoodles on Twitter | DreamydoodlesNW on Facebook

Labradoodle Littermates with my daughter Olivia

I’m always grateful to see new puppy owners actively seeking advice.. I just wish they would of done more research before they considered bringing a puppy home.

8 week old Aussiedoodle and little girl

8 week old Aussiedoodle Puppy

I don’t just blame irresponsible “puppy sellers” because it’s also the responsibility of “puppy buyers” to do their due diligence before buying a puppy! Regardless of how cheap or cute the puppy is or if its “just gonna be a pet” you still should educate yourself on puppy care and development and who you’re getting your puppy from.

Remember, this cute puppy will be with you (hopefully) for the next 10-15 years. Don’t disregard the importance of who and where you’re getting your puppy from and the care they’ve recieved as well as their parents.


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