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