Play biting in puppies is a very common behaviour, so don't panic.
Puppies Like to explore with their mouths, and won't quite realise when they are biting too
hard. For this reason, the way we react to play biting is very important. We want to help our
Puppies realise what is and isn't appropriate.
There are 101 different theories surrounding play biting and how best to react to it in order to
get your puppy to stop. Ultimately though a lot of these theories are misguided and some may
even encourage further biting. Ranging from yelping out loud after a bite, to sticking a toy in
their mouth as fast as possible, it is important to understand the way your puppy interoperates
Bare in mind everything puppies do is for attention and all attention is good attention. By this
we mean everything! Telling them off, pushing them away, making a loud noise, giving them
a toy ect. All of these responses to biting are rewarding your puppy with attention and
therefore reinforcing that biting gets them everything they want.
So, what is the best way to correct inappropriate biting?
As we know attention is crucial, we want to make sure the puppies get no attention what so
ever after mouthing occurs. As soon as teeth touch skin, walk away from puppy so they learn
that biting means they lose out!
If the biting can't be ignored or walked away from, the next step would be to perform what we
call a timeout. For more information on timeouts please see our blog titled 'The Timeout
As a general rule with Puppies we want to reward the good, ignore the bad and for anything
we can't ignore we use timeouts. This basic set of rules, along with a little bit of consistency
and perseverance will teach your puppy its basic manners and reduce the chances of
rewarding inappropriate behaviour.
If you feel your puppy or even older dog is mouthing more than the normal amount, it is
always best to consult a qualified behaviourist for further advice.
George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor