Did you ever experience a situation where your puppy would just give you a bite out of the blue and you may be wondering what’s causing this reaction and how you can calm him down?
Before you dive into addressing this undesirable behavior, you ought to find out
- What are the stimuli or factors that cause your puppy to start biting. Is he biting you, your family members, visitors, strangers in the park or other species?
- What are the WAYS that you can do to calm him down and help him to “kick” off this biting habits?
WHY Puppy Bites?
Puppy mouthing is inevitable part of a puppy development process. This starts when his teeth start growing, and he feels some discomfort.
There are many reasons as to why a puppy bites, ranging from emotion triggering factors such as fear, excitement, frustration or nervousness to protecting his resources (such as food and toys) or territory. He could also be biting you as a result of just wanting to seek your attention.
In normal circumstances, puppies don’t really use his teeth to bite unless he faces the following situations.
Sense of Danger
This is a normal reaction when a dog faces any life threatening situation such as when someone is invading his territories He will initially start growling at that person and if he senses that person is showing signs of nervousness and anxiety, he will start his biting attack.
This could be the result that you “force” him to do something that he dislikes or you are taking away his beloved resources.
For example, I have once tried to take away my Chihuahua’s favorite toy as it is badly destroyed and before I knew it, he had his teeth on my hand. It never came across my mind that he would bite me as he is always so lovely and obedient.
So, it is always to stay alert if you are going to do something that your puppy dislikes. He is likely going to react in an unpredictable way.
This is likely to happen when your puppy finds that he is alone and getting bored and stressed in his small little confinement space (such as bathroom or bedroom) with nothing to keep him occupied. He starts to chew and bite things since he had nothing else to do in an unstimulating environment for the whole day.
In fact, your puppy might not be aware that he is biting you. He could be thinking that he is showing his love for you when he “gently” bite you. This is the case where your puppy is not training on using the right “strength” to control his bite.
Puppies tend to learn the “ART” of biting and nipping from their mom when they are in their puppy hood. When they bite too aggressively, their mom will leave them, and they will learn that this biting is prohibited.
Your puppy might not have been trained on this if he leaves his mom too early. What you can do is to always have a chewy toy with you and whenever you see your puppy attempting to bite you, instantly stop moving your feet and take out the chewy toy and wave at him enticingly. This will direct his attention to the toy, and he will grab it to continue his chewing.
You could also attempt to let him know that his biting is causing pain and injury to you. When he bites on you, instantly give out a high-pitched yelp and leave him alone for about 60 seconds before coming back for him.
This is to let him know that when he bites you, the fun and attention will be OVER. He will be left alone. He will gradually be trained that biting is not an acceptable behavior and will stop doing this action to you.
Unfamiliar Environment Or Encounter
This could be a case when your puppy is not properly socialized. He might get nervous and anxiety in an unfamiliar environment and become aggressive and start his attack on other people, animals or objects as a means to defend himself.
I have this bite from my Chihuahua when I first did his nail trimming. This is a totally new experience for him, and he gets really nervous. As this is also my first experience doing this job on him, both of us are naturally excited and nervous.
After that “biting”, I learned through the “Painful” way that I will need to assure him that he is SAFE with me and to distract his attention (using any of his favorite stuff, could be his toy or treat) from the nail cutter and gentle clip on the tip of the nail.
As you can see, this is a new encounter for him, and he isn’t mentally prepared for that, so that triggers his aggressiveness and strikes that bite despite I’m his “Loved” one.
When there is a sudden change of your puppy behavior from submissive to aggressive, it could be due to some hidden medical issue. Your puppy is unable to “talk” to you that he is in pain and can only show his frustration through his aggressiveness.
You may inspect your puppy’s body for any visible injury but at times, it could be some inner health issue that you would certainly need help from a veterinarian.
Have you ever considered this as a factor? Similar to humans, when you do not get sufficient sleep, you tend to be easily irritable and emotional agitated. This applies to dogs as well. Puppies need at least 14-16 hours of sleep daily.
Being overtired is one of the primary causes for a puppy to start his biting. You see, your puppy is unable to “tell” you that he needs some good sleep. (He may be suffering from a sleeping disorder or his sleeping spot just don’t fit him well). He would just show his frustration to you through his way (Biting).
Make sure that he gets a good sleeping place and monitor if he is able to catch some good sleep. Sometimes, you might have overlooked choosing an appropriate sleeping place for him.
For example, if you are placing him to sleep in his crate, is the crate specious and comfortable for him to be in? Is the location of the crate away from the crowd?
If you are placing the crate right in the living room, there is no way that he can catch a sleep till everyone in your family is asleep. This can easily disrupt his sleeping cycle, causing him to feel tired.
HOW To Calm Down A Biting Puppy?
Once you have identified what’s causing your puppy to exhibit his biting behavior, you will be in a better position to tackle the issue.
Crating Your Puppy For Biting
Yes, you hear it correctly. Crating is an effective approach to calm down an aggressive puppy who likes to bite. By putting him in a crate, you are giving him time to “cool” down and to prevent him from continuing his biting.
The KEY takeaway is not to let your puppy associate crating as a punishment. So, it’s important that you reward him with his favorite food once he has calmed down and you are letting him out of the crate. This will help to create positive reinforcement that by not biting, he will be rewarded.
Distract His Attention
You can make use of his favorite toys or treats to get his attention away from what is causing his emotional upset. (get his sight away from the stimuli)
For example, if your puppy is feeling uncomfortable when he is facing a new environment (perhaps you are brought him to your parent’s home, and he has not really settled down in this unfamiliar environment), you can have him placed in a portable crate along with his favorite toy so that he gets to calm down in his familiar environment while you can slowly get him to adjust to the new situation.
Socialization – A Prevention Approach
A well socialized puppy will not have much emotion related behavior issues. He will be confident in handling any new situations, new people and of course, other species.
And when your puppy is well-trained, you would not have to calm him down since he would not be biting, don’t you agree?
So, to prevent your puppy from exhibiting any behavior problems, train him on socialization as soon as you get him home. In fact, you can start the training when he is 7 to 8 weeks old. The earlier you have him trained, the faster he will be able to interact well in his world.
When he feels safe to be around with people and animals, there is NO reason why he should react aggressively.
Another benefit of socialization is that your puppy will be able to interact with a well-trained dog, and they will be able to train him on some “right” behaviors such as biting. Don’t be surprised if you find that your puppy gets to learn from another dog on biting inhibition.
This is what socialization is all about, teaching him that making friends, playing with them is FUN, and he gets to learn the desirable behaviors from them as well!