When the puppy bites: Even the cutest puppy has 28 teeth from the age of around six weeks, which it can already use effectively. It is true that he can only poke uncomfortably with the needle-point mini-weapons and not cause serious injuries. Nevertheless, every dog owner should make sure that his puppy learns bite resistance. What can I do if my puppy bites?
Most young dogs have already made some progress in this regard by interacting with their siblings. Every now and then you can hear that bite resistance is innate and you don’t have to train anything. However, this is a mistake that can have serious consequences. Because this ability is of great importance for a safe coexistence between humans and dogs: It prevents dangerous injuries if an exceptional situation should arise from an animal point of view.
First step: Natural anti-bite training
Even the kindest dogs can bite – for example, if someone accidentally steps on them violently and the pain scares them. However, even the smallest four-legged friends playfully learn to control their natural weapons: if the siblings of a litter play together and a puppy bites, the one who is bitten reacts immediately: he either pinches back or he withdraws from the game. Both are unpleasant from the biter’s point of view and he learns that biting too carelessly has negative consequences for him. The siblings quickly understand that they can only insert their new teeth with care. The natural development and socialization thus offers through these lessons in the litter an optimal basis for a healthy and safe bite inhibition of the adult dog. Unfortunately, many people do not continue this important training after their puppy has moved in. This is also of enormous importance for small breeds or very social and sociable dogs, because they too can get into stressful situations and then bite without notice. A bite-resistant four-legged friend will instead show a defensive snap.
Second step: playful practice at home
- Even as a puppy, a dog has to learn that people have sensitive skin that should not be “nibbled on” while playing. If your puppy bites, you have to make the boundaries clear to him and interrupt the game with an acoustic signal such as “ouch” as soon as his teeth come into contact with your skin or clothing.
- Then briefly withdraw your attention so that he can get to know the consequences of biting immediately. Usually around 15 seconds are sufficient. If your animal companion bites again during this period, it is best to leave the room briefly for a minute.
- Repeat this exercise a maximum of three times in the course of 15 minutes and then finish the corresponding game – otherwise your four-legged friend’s concentration would be overwhelmed. Scolding or a slap are of course taboo during this exercise. Also because your little bully could misinterpret this as a further invitation to impetuous play – after all, dogs like to run wild with one another. For this reason, you should absolutely avoid all forms of harsher bolt games, which include your companion’s teeth and their pinching.
- However, an alternative is also important: after the break from play described above, offer your four-legged friend a tug toy – he can let off steam with his teeth and learns in this context that he is welcome to nibble on it. Chew toys are also an option.
What are the challenges in anti-bite training?
If small children live in the household, the training poses additional challenges, because young dogs like to playfully nibble on children or their clothes. So only let the puppy play with the child under supervision. From around school age, you can teach your child how to stop playing with the dog on their own if the puppy touches it with its teeth.
As strange as it may seem at first glance, overly peaceful puppies are another challenge. Because to learn a bite inhibition it is necessary that the dog wants to bite first. Puppies that do not even show their teeth when they play together do not offer us any opportunity to exercise: Without biting attempts in puppy age, there is no training in bite inhibition. In fact, it makes sense to provoke such puppies to bite through games or tasty treats that they want to grab immediately.
In any case, practicing with most puppies requires a lot of patience: Always keep in mind that you will only achieve effective results through consistency. Anyone who says “Ouch” out loud once, but enthusiastically romps on with their four-legged friend the next time they pinch their teeth, need not be surprised if long-term successes fail to materialize. These successes will not come from one day to the next, but rather slowly. Learning can take longer, especially for breeds that were originally used as hunting dogs. Warning: At four months before the permanent teeth replace the milk teeth, a young dog should have his teeth under control. If this is not the case, it is highly recommended that you seek professional help, for example in the form of a dog trainer.