Even though puppies are quite soft, fluffy, and adorable, they are also unfortunately born with extremely sharp baby teeth. These teeth serve a purpose of helping puppies learn bite inhibition, so they know how hard is too hard when using their teeth. There are also a few ways you can help your puppy learn how to properly use their mouth.
Trade for Toys
If your puppy is using their mouth inappropriately on your skin or clothes, offer them an appropriate toy for chewing. Puppies need to chew, especially as they are teething, so it’s important to allow them a proper outlet for their behavior. Have proper toys that your puppy enjoys chewing in various areas around your home to make trading easier.
Offer Soothing Chews
Puppies are teething from around 4-6 months old, and greatly benefit from chews and toys that can help soothe their sore mouth at this time. Kongs are one toy that can be stuffed with peanut butter, cheese, or even just wet dog food mixed with kibble and frozen. Some puppies also enjoy chewing on frozen plush toys, or even frozen carrots. In addition, companies such as Benebone and Nylabone make longer-lasting chew toys that can provide your puppy with some relief.
Ask for an Alternate Behavior
It’s hard (or even impossible) for your puppy to bite if you ask them to do something else. Sit, down, hand targets, or go to bed are some of the many behaviors that you can ask for instead. This is most useful for puppies that are a little older and have learned some manners, and should be used in conjunction with providing puppies an appropriate outlet for their chewing.
Let Your Puppy Nap
In many cases, when puppy biting gets out of control, the puppy is overtired and needs time for a nap. If your puppy is crate trained, this is a great way to help your puppy. When distracting with a toy or asking for an alternate behavior doesn’t work, a crate can help your puppy settle and take a much-needed break!
Puppy Biting Ends the Fun
Finally, an important point to remember is that puppy teeth on clothes and skin should end the interaction with your puppy. Pushing the puppy, pulling away, and other behaviors might encourage the puppy to continue their “play” with you. Instead, if you feel teeth too hard on your skin or clothes, make sure to immediately stop playing with the puppy. You can stand still or walk away, and pair this with other options like trading a toy or encouraging a nap.
Puppy nipping and biting often improves after they are done teething, but the guidance you give on proper chewing and how hard is too hard to bite during their younger months will help set your puppy up for success as they grow.