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Over-The-Top Puppy Biting: Find Out When Intervention is Needed

Fun Fact: Puppies bite. A lot. Some bite more than others, but they all bite (or "mouth") at some point in their adorable puppy-hood states. It's just part of raising a puppy... Or is it?

In most cases, yes... As much as none of us want to hear it, puppy biting is just part of raising a puppy. As we detailed in our last blog post, there are lots of very effective ways to manage puppy biting and keep it to a minimum while your puppy outgrows the teething/biting stages of puppyhood. The goal with all of these techniques is to ensure that the biting doesn't become habitual and last beyond puppyhood. If you follow all of these techniques, the chances of your puppy successfully outgrowing this inconvenient habit are very high. With that being said, you have to be MORE persistent (and consistent) than your puppy. Make sure you don't throw in the towel too soon... Puppies can teeth for 2-3 months, and they may want to mouth/play-bite for this entire duration. Patience is key. You need to give your puppy plenty of time to learn what is and is not acceptable. If you stick with it, 99% of the time, you will see results.

But what about that other 1%???

Occasionally (and by "occasionally," we mean very rarely), we'll come across a puppy in training that is just an over-the-top play-biter. None of the typical interventions such as redirecting to special toys, tons of exercise/play sessions/training sessions, and/or crating seem to work. This type of puppy comes out of the crate biting & continues trying to do so until he/she is directed back into the crate. Instead of taking/playing with a brand new toy, this type of puppy ignores the toy and continues trying to bite the toy holder (a.k.a... you). Instead of taking treats (you need to try ALL different types of yummy treats first) during a training session, this puppy is jumping up at you trying to bite your hands, or he/she is latched on to your leg, the leash, etc. This type of puppy would rather jump up at you and try to bite you instead of exploring your big fenced-in backyard, chase the toy you're repeatedly trying to engage him/her with, etc. This type of puppy is what we sometimes refer to as "a bit bratty."

Notice that we didn't say aggressive. Or dominant. The chances that your puppy is truly dominant or aggressive are slim to none. In fact, in 10+ years of training and having worked with hundreds (probably well over a thousand if we had to guess) of puppies & dogs, the number of truly aggressive/dominant puppies we've come across is in the single-digits. Most of these persistent, mouthy puppies are just "a bit bratty." Does that mean there's something wrong with your puppy? Nope! It just means he/she might need a little bit more focused work to combat this play-biting so it doesn't evolve into something more concerning down the road. Furthermore, a puppy that is this persistent about play-biting is usually going to be very persistent/focused in other areas as well! So, if you can find a way to harness that focus into more positive interactions... You're going to have one fun pup!

So what's the secret into unearthing this "fun pup" we speak of? First, you have to stop the play-biting so that said puppy is able to start focusing on something else and can learn that there are other fun things to life. These over-the-top play-biters wind themselves up so much trying to bite you that they miss out on lots of other fun things like exploring your yard, playing with a toy, going for walks, or just learning that being petted/handled is an enjoyable experience. Truth be told, there's no "secret" trick or tip to stopping this extreme play-biting... Training is all you need! More specifically, balanced training. If you're not familiar with balanced training, stay tuned for our next blog post where we'll be giving you the low-down on what it is and how it can help your relationship with your dog.

Being able to tell a puppy (or dog) "yes" AND "no" when you are dealing with specific issues like extreme mouthing/biting is a true game-changer. Balanced training enables you to have this well-rounded line of communication with your puppy and, even better, it won't damage your relationship with your puppy! No spraying your puppy in the face with water, spanking your puppy, hitting your puppy with a newspaper, or making super loud noises to scare your puppy needed. These are all very personal forms of corrections that are actually hard to equate with the meaning of "no."

You see, the thing is, puppies (and dogs) don't speak English. When we tell them "no," we might as well be telling them "yes" if we haven't taught them the meaning of "no."

While we can teach them the meaning of "yes" quite easily using marker training, teaching "no" fairly and clearly in a way that won't damage your relationship with your puppy is where balanced training comes in. It's the piece of the puzzle that we often find to be missing in owner-dog relationships. So, if you're struggling with an extremely mouthy puppy or just find that telling your puppy/dog no is consistently unproductive, get in touch with us. While we can't tell you how to implement a balanced training approach with your dog within the confines of a blog post, we can absolutely show you how, and we can guarantee that your relationship with your puppy/dog will be all the better for it.

Happy training!

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