Puppies can be savage little beasts. They're like piranha fish and their teeth feel like little needles. The force they can exert is surprising. They chew on anything they can get in their mouths, including your fingers. And it hurts!
It’s important to begin teaching them from the beginning not to bite humans; that your fingers are not play toys.
Over the years I’ve read about many techniques that people advise and frankly, some are hit and miss and many of them don’t work at all.
I've heard some people say that puppy mouthing is O.K. as long as they are being gentle. I don’t agree. It may be cute for a pup to be gently mouthing your finger or hand but I think puppies should be taught it’s not O.K. to put their mouth on you for any reason. This way the message is clear and there are no gray areas, no confusing messages.
Any behavior that you don't want from your grown dog should be taught while they are still puppies. What may seem like cute behavior in a little pup can become a major problem in an older more powerful dog. The time to stop it is now!
Over the years I’ve tried many different techniques but the one I've always come back to is the one that has worked on every dog I’ve owned. As with any puppy lesson some dogs take longer than others to get it but in the end the result has always been the same. It’s a very effective technique.
Puppies chew. They enjoy chewing and biting things. That’s just a fact. They explore their world with their noses and mouths and chewing on something feels good. That’s fine as long as the object they are chewing on is not part of your anatomy.
The trick for me is to teach the little tiger that biting my fingers is not a pleasant experience. It’s a simple technique and it may sound cruel to some but it doesn’t hurt or harm your pup in any way.
Depending on your particular dog, and they are all different, it may take only a few times or it can take many repetitions over several days to accomplish the goal.
The basic principle is that a puppy or for that matter, an adult dog won't continue to do something once they realize the immediate result is always unpleasant. If you can link the action with the uncomfortable result in their brain, sooner or later they will stop.
What do I do? Whenever my finger finds itself in the mouth of my puppy I simply press down on the lower jaw toward the pups’ chest and say NO, then release it as I remove my finger! If your finger is a little deeper into his or her mouth I’ll press down on the back of the tongue with a “NO” which triggers the gag reflex and you then remove your finger.
Always have a chew toy nearby to offer as an alternative. I don’t offer the toy until he has tired of my response to his biting. Usually after 4 or 5 quick repetitions of this your puppy gets the idea and then they just sniff your hand at which point I offer the toy. When they begin gnawing on that they get a lot of exuberant praise. I always provide an alternative to any bad behavior and end each lesson on a positive note.
As I said, this does no harm to your puppy but naturally this is not a pleasant experience for him. That’s the idea. I want him to learn that when he bites my hand the result is not enjoyable.
But puppies are persistent little creatures and 5 or 10 minutes later they will do it all over again. Continue the same process for as long as it takes. It usually only takes a couple of days but stick with it and the lesson will be learned.
There is no anger on my part during this process. There is just consistency. I employ this method every time they bite. Get everyone in your family on the same page so the message is the same from everyone.
Instead of saying “no bite” or no biting” which is fine, I prefer to use the “NO” command only and I use it for any behavior I am not happy with. This helps teach your puppy that “NO” means it’s in their best interest to stop what ever they are doing. You’ll be surprised at how effective “NO” becomes after they’ve graduated from “No Biting 101.”
My wife and I are watching my son and daughter in law's new 9 1/2 week old Yorky for a week while they vacation and it took a day and a half to stop the biting. Of course she'll do it again. She'll continue to test our resolve and the lesson will have to be reinforced for as long as it takes to convince her we mean it.
Even though each biting incident may end successfully it will take several of these until it’s cemented in your puppy’s mind. Don’t get frustrated. Just be patient and consistent and you will be successful. It works!