Your Dog Training Questions: My Puppy Bites Me

Your Question:

Jim,

I have a new puppy. She is a 6-month-old Maltese. We are potty training her, socializing her with our friends and generally following all of your advice. Everything seems fine, except that when we are pet her and play with her she bites and sometimes her bites are way too hard. Will she grow out of this?

My Answer:
If you have ever observed puppies in a litter, you will see a lot of play fighting, including biting. This is how puppies teach each other something we call bite inhibition. If one puppy bites too hard during play, the other will yelp to let him know. Soon puppies learn how to control the strength of their bites, but sometimes they have to learn this from you.

The first thing is to never punish your puppy for biting. Don’t strike or yell at the puppy. First of all, it won’t work and second, you could compound the problem by creating fear in your puppy. Instead you want to supervise your puppy and eventually redirect the biting.

When your puppy bites, stop playing and redirect their behavior. If you have been teaching obedience teaching your dog commands like sit, down, etc., this is the time for them. Keep up the good work with training, walking and socializing your puppy and you should have no problem getting your puppy to stop biting you.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

4 Responses to Your Dog Training Questions: My Puppy Bites Me

  1. janine moden

    July 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I have an 8 month old goldendoodle. I’ve used the cd you sent me to help in training, but one problem persists. This is adversarial leash tugging. William sits, downs, and comes well. When I walk him he sits when I stop, and heels well. I use a prong collar and/or a “gentle leader”, and a chain leash. The problem is this: when he’s in boisterous mood and we’re in familiar surroundings, like around the neighborhood, he often grabs the leash and growls and pulls and jumps and runs behind me and through my legs, etc. I tell him to sit, he does, then resumes the behaviour when we start off. I’ve tried just dropping the leash, but again the behaviour resumes as soon as I pick it up. His actions are very aggressive and defiant, but not viscous. Can you help me with this? I’ve tried food to distract him but it ends up being a reward, I think, so I’ve stopped that. Another problem: he tends to be mouthy around the house, and grabs at my hands. What to do?
    Thank you for your help,
    Janine

  2. janine moden

    July 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I have an 8 month old goldendoodle. I’ve used the cd you sent me to help in training, but one problem persists. This is adversarial leash tugging. William sits, downs, and comes well. When I walk him he sits when I stop, and heels well. I use a prong collar and/or a “gentle leader”, and a chain leash. The problem is this: when he’s in boisterous mood and we’re in familiar surroundings, like around the neighborhood, he often grabs the leash and growls and pulls and jumps and runs behind me and through my legs, etc. I tell him to sit, he does, then resumes the behaviour when we start off. I’ve tried just dropping the leash, but again the behaviour resumes as soon as I pick it up. His actions are very aggressive and defiant, but not viscous. Can you help me with this? I’ve tried food to distract him but it ends up being a reward, I think, so I’ve stopped that. Another problem: he tends to be mouthy around the house, and grabs at my hands. What to do?
    Thank you for your help,
    Janine

  3. JBurwell

    July 11, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Janine:

    I will send you a private email to discuss. I will send that to you today

    Jim

  4. Afiya

    October 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I have a 1 month 2 weeks Shih tzu and when I play fight with him.. He bites.. What should I do? Keep doing it or scold him