Expert Q&A

My new puppy is constantly biting me, and I’m concerned it’ll keep doing this as it gets older. Will my pet just naturally grow out of the nipping?

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

Most puppies typically do a bit of harmless hand-nipping. For all animals, playtime is meant to develop skills that the individual will benefit from in later life, so puppies use their mouths, tails and everything else when playing with you and other pups. It’s one thing to have a little puppy nip at your hand, but it’s quite another to have a toothy adult dog take a chomp, as you point out. The goal is to redirect your dog’s natural tendencies toward something more productive and less potentially dangerous.

The Humane Society of the United States advises that you offer a chew toy whenever you go to pet your puppy. If you have kids, have them do this as well, saving more sensitive hands. As you pet your puppy, let it continue to chew on the toy. This will keep its mouth busy and reinforce how much fun it can be for your pet to be around people.

One tip, according to the Humane Society, is to alternate which hand you use for petting and scratching and which one you use to hold and provide the chew toy. Try petting or scratching your pup first, since this stimulation usually gives puppies more energy and brings out the nipping/playing tendencies. When you think those might surface, hand over the chew toy.

Even without a chew toy at the ready, you must educate your puppy about proper social behavior. If your pup does bite, look right at it and yell, “Ouch!” and then ignore your pet until it’s calmed down. You might have to leave the room for a short while. Once things have settled down, try the petting/chew toy approach again. Your puppy should soon learn that one behavior results in a negative outcome, while another makes everybody happy.

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Tags: dog behavior , dog training , puppy

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