While the biting game that puppies play can be fun when your dog is small, it is not so fun when baby teeth disappear and adult teeth come in. Mouthing is a natural behaviour of puppies but adult teeth are far more damaging than puppy teeth. Adult dogs that nip or bite were not taught to not bite as puppies and this is a behaviour that is not welcome.
Once your dog’s behaviour goes beyond mouthing it can lead to serious issues. Some dogs bite in an aggressive manner while others are doing it out of fear. Both situations can be dangerous because biting can lead to injury to other dogs and to people. This can lead to legal issues and in the worst scenario it can mean that your dog needs to be put down. Puppies must be taught not to put their mouth on a human. You need to work with your dog to stop this type of behaviour right away when it occurs.
What Causes a Dog to Bite?
Puppies start to bite when they are teething. The pain from new teeth coming in can cause a puppy to try to get rid of it by biting down on something. The puppy will bite down on anything to get rid of teething pain including hands, arms, toys, etc. Most often this behaviour will stop once the teeth come in.
Some dogs bite out of fear. If a dog is afraid it tends to react by biting to show that it is scared. Some dogs will bite as a warning that it doesn’t like to be in the situation that it is in. Other dogs bite for attention. The bite offers a signal to anyone that the dog has a certain territory and that the person should leave its area or pay attention to the dog. Certain breeds of dog nip because they are aggressive and this lets people or other animals know that they need their space and that they do not want to be touched.
When your puppy starts to teeth and tries to nip or bite you they are trying to reduce their pain. You can offer assistance to your puppy by giving it items to chew on such as a chew toy or a bone. You can play with your puppy but don’t allow the puppy to bite you. If your puppy nips you tell them “no” in a firm voice and use a treat / reward system when they listen to you and do not bite or nip.
You can use a simple “no” cue to teach your dog that the activity that they are doing is unwanted. The noise is a signal that the activity is something that they must avoid. Repeated use of these items can show your dog that they are doing something that is not approved of. Consistency is the key and rewarding your dog for good behaviour is how you get them to do what you want them to do.