If you type in puppy into google one of the top searches that comes up is 'How do I stop my puppy biting'. It must be searched thousands of times a day.
Puppy biting and mouthing is a completely normal behaviour. Their jaws are not strong when they first emerge, so they need the super sharp teeth to help with eating and their exploration of the world.
Puppies peak in their teething is around 12-16 weeks, so it's not unusual for their behaviour to reflect this. Teething tends to coincide with a stage of development when the puppy is more adventurous and less frightened.
So Why Do Puppies Bite?
Puppies will play bite, mouth and chew for many reasons:
To explore the world.
To interact with you.
Chew helps a puppy to relax as it releases endorphines.
Chewing helps the removal of their baby teeth when the time comes.
When emotions are in high state or arousal.
You may have read in many books that shouting 'Ouch' in a loud voice will teach your puppy to stop biting and mouthing you but this advice is very out dated and I personally do not think it works. For many puppies the loud noise will excite them more which will encourage the biting behaviour and in fact make it worse.
How To Stop Puppy Biting?
The real answer is you will never stop puppy biting but there are many things to consider that will help manage your puppy's biting and mouthing. So let's explore that,
Provide your puppy with plenty of good chews. I recommend long lasting edible chews such as calve hooves, yaks milk, pizzles, cows ears. Also it's important to have plenty toys with different textures for your puppy to mouth.
Puppies will use their mouths more when over aroused so try to ensure you don’t stroke them, give them your hands or pick them up during these times. Use toys or give them things you are happy for them to mouth.
If puppy does start to play bite, try and redirect them onto a chew or soft toy.
Ensure your puppy is getting enough sleep. Puppies need a lot of sleep, a young puppy needs around 14-16 hours sleep in a 24 hour period.
Manage all of your puppies interactions with children. Children tend to get a lot of the puppy biting, this is likely to be because of the way children handle the puppy. The often pick the puppy up or cuddle the puppy at times the puppy does not want it and the only thing the puppy can do at this moment is mouth. It's important that children get educated on how to read the puppy and give the puppy plenty space when needed.
Puppies need entertainment and enrichment. Is your puppy desperate for attention or some mental challenges? Have a program in place to ensure you avoid giving your puppy opportunities to practise undesirable behaviours.
Your puppy may be hungry so give them a small snack to see if the biting behaviour reduces.
The use of a playpen can be very handy, it gives you a safe space to contain your puppy and can provide the puppy with a chill out zone.
Don't Punish Your Puppy! Puppy Biting Is Just A Phase!
Whatever you do, don’t argue with them, point your finger, say “Ah! Ah!” or “No!”. Remember to teach them what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do. After checking puppy is getting enough sleep, re-directing their attention onto another activity or calming them own with food-based training or chews would be my first advice to try.
If you need any help on this please get in touch, I work remotely or in person depending on your location.