Puppies spend a lot of their time playing and exploring things around them. Since they use their mouths and teeth when they play, they often bite, gnaw, and chew. And sometimes, their owners’ hands get the brunt of their biting.
Do you want to know why your puppy is biting your hand a lot? Continue reading to discover the answer and learn the one simple trick to curb this behaviour.
At what age do puppies stop biting hands?
If your puppy is biting your hands excessively, teething is the most common reason behind it. Puppies begin to lose their baby teeth when they are around 8–16 weeks of age. This process can last up to 8 months.
As your puppy’s baby teeth are replaced by adult dog’s teeth, his gums will feel painful and itchy. To alleviate his discomfort, he will bite anything, including your hand. Once your puppy’s teething stage is over, his puppy biting phase will slowly wane.
Having said that, make sure to take necessary measures that will help inhibit his biting. Or else, this may evolve into destructive behaviour.
Why does my puppy bite me when I pet him?
Playtime for puppies includes biting, which explains why your puppy bites your hands when petted. Although this behaviour may seem alarming, it is not done out of aggression. Young dogs engage in play biting with other pooches.
If they bite too hard, the receiver of the bite yelps and stops playing. This helps them learn how to control their bite force, which is also known as bite inhibition. As you read on, you will know how to teach your puppy bite inhibition too.
Why is my puppy biting me aggressively?
Much like young children, puppies are prone to overexcitement and temper tantrums. It can lead them to bite their owners’ hands hard. In some cases, it is done out of fear, which is quite common in abused or neglected dogs.
How can you tell if your puppy is biting your hands out of playfulness or aggression? You will know if he is being aggressive when:
- he has a stiff and tense body
- his lips are pulled back and his teeth are bared
- he starts growling, barking, or snarling
- his bites will inflict more pain than his usual playful bites
Aggression, even in puppies, can be very scary. However, do your best to remain calm to keep him from becoming more aggressive. Bring him to a quiet room and leave him for a few minutes until he calms down.
If your puppy is biting your hands aggressively, very often, contact a qualified dog trainer to conduct dog training classes. Or if it gets out of hand, hire a behaviourist for your puppy.
Why does my puppy bite me and no one else?
If your puppy is biting your hands, but he doesn’t do it to other family members, it could mean that he sees you as his mother. This is a very common behaviour in puppies that are separated from their mom too early.
Most puppies learned bite inhibition from their mothers. They nip and bite them frequently and will be reprimanded if they mouth too hard by growling and baring teeth. If your puppy hasn’t experienced this with his mother, then he will rely on you to do the same.
Another reason why your puppy chooses to bite you and only you is that you make him anxious. This could be due to interacting, holding, or cuddling him way too much. If his body language shows signs of wanting to be left alone, do not push your luck. Give him some space and try again at a later time.
Puppies are very sensitive to loud noises as well. Sometimes it can cause them to be overexcited, which results in biting. So check the volume of your voice the next time your puppy nips you.
The One Trick – How do you teach your puppy bite inhibition?
Puppies can really be nippy until about they are 5 months old. If it goes unchecked for longer than that, it would be more difficult to resolve the issue. How do you discipline a puppy for biting? The best way to stop puppy biting fast is through bite inhibition.
Although this puppy training technique will not completely remove his biting behaviour, it will ensure that your puppy’s mouthing will not inflict any harm or damage. Let your puppy learn to control his biting by following the simple steps below:
- Form a fist and move it towards your puppy’s mouth just enough to make him feel discomfort but not to the point of choking.
- Give a command that you want to use to stop your pup from chewing in the future. A simple “no” will suffice.
- After giving the command, take your hand out and wait for a few seconds. If your puppy attempts to chew your hand again, repeat the steps mentioned until he gets it.
Make sure that you utter the command using a firm and assertive tone of voice. Avoid using the high-pitched voice typically used on pups when they’re being cute.
A word of caution: Limit the repetition of these steps to a maximum of 3 times within a 15-minute duration. You’ll need to do a puppy timeout—ignoring him for about 30–60 seconds—at this point.
If this doesn’t work for him, swab lemon juice on the part of your hand that he likes to nibble on. Wait for his reaction before you praise him for letting go of your hand.
Make sure that you utter the command using a firm and assertive tone of voice. Avoid using the high-pitched voice typically used on pups when they’re being cute. This is not the appropriate time for the dog talk tone.
What are other ways to stop puppy biting?
- Do not be discouraged from playing with your puppy. You don’t need to worry about him mouthing your hand if you provide him with chew toys. If he tries to bite your hand, divert his focus by giving him safe toys to play with.
- Wrestling and rough playing with your hands is not recommended. Go for non-contact types of play such as tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and fetch.
- In relation to the pointer above, do not wiggle your finger in front of your puppy. Playfully slapping his muzzle should be avoided as well to prevent him from engaging in aggressive play.
- A puppy learns to develop undesirable behaviour if he lacks sufficient human interaction and exercise. Thus, make sure that you provide him with enough entertaining and physically and mentally stimulating activities daily.
- Always use positive reinforcement on your puppy. Reward good behaviour with praises and treats. Never inflict harsh punishments such as hitting or sticking your fingers down his throat. These will only teach your dog to fear your hand and hinder you from curbing his biting behaviour.
Whilst some puppies can learn right away, they are likely to mouth again. With consistent repetition, you will find that the frequency of unwanted behaviour will gradually reduce. Eventually, a simple command would be enough for him to stop nipping.
Above all, it is important that you consistently display a calm and assertive demeanour in dealing with your puppy so that he will recognise you as an able pack leader and behave appropriately.