Dog and Puppy Training Tip: Play Biting in Dogs and Puppies

Owning a puppy or dog that play bites can be frustrating and painful! It is normal for puppies to play by biting each other and they actually teach each other not to bite so hard. We want to teach our puppies that play biting is not an acceptable way to play with humans at all and we do this by using dog body language. When two puppies play and one bites the other too hard, one will squeal in pain and the two puppies will stop play, separate by moving away from each other, then finally resume play.

When your puppy bites you hard, you need to let him/her know that this is not acceptable behaviour by saying a command such as “STOP” and immediately standing up and turning around cutting off all contact for a while before resuming play. For sensitive puppies, this is all that is needed but some puppies are very persistent and need a firmer approach. If your puppy repeatedly bites you hard, even though you have walked away, you will need to physically remove your puppy from yourself and put him/her in a “Time Out” area. The object of “Time Out” is to separate the puppy from you, so that he/she is not getting any attention from you.

Keep repeating the “Time Out” approach many times. This can be exhausting as the puppy just never seems to stop!! But keep going as you will soon get results.

Do not push your puppy away as this will encourage him/her to jump right back at you!
Eventually, your puppy will begin to understand “gosh – these humans have very sensitive skin”!!  Start off slowly with this training and allow gentle mouthing for the first week, so that it gives the puppy a chance to learn what is expected of him/her.

Remember: Play-biting is a “work in progress” and you will only see small improvements every week until the behaviour has been eliminated.

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Happy Training!

Isabelle Adams-Papé IMDT
121 Dog Training – Hong Kong (no longer operational)
Ringwood Dogs, Ashley Heath on the Hampshire and Dorset border, UK
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