Why Does My Puppy Bite Me When Playing

Getting yourself a new puppy is going to be a rewarding experience for you. Imagine the joy of having your lovely little one keeping you company when you are feeling down and sharing your joy when you are happy.

But when your puppy starts biting you consistently when you are playing with him, this is when the trouble comes in. You will be suffering from biting marks all over your hands or legs unless he is properly trained.

Your puppy bites for some reason. By knowing what trigger that biting will help you to address the issue.

Puppy bites during the play as he needs to get feedback on his biting intensity. This will develop his acquired bite inhibition. You can help him with inhibition training by letting him socialize with other dogs, as dogs are much better at giving your puppy a reaction when being bitten.

Why Puppy Bites?

First thing first, you should not stop your puppy from biting. Yes, you hear it right. Do not stop your puppy from biting as this is part of his natural behavior as he is growing up. 

Play biting and fighting is certainly the growing process of your puppy and only when going through this process, does your puppy know how to “handle” his biting.

But that doesn’t mean that you should let your puppy keep biting you. You will need to have him trained on biting inhibition. 

Your puppy needs to bite in order to gather feedback on the biting pressure to properly adjust the force of their jaws. This is what is often known as “acquired bite inhibition” or ABI.

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Having your puppy trained on the appropriate way of biting (biting intensity and frequency) during puppy hood is extremely important so that when he is in adolescence, he would be a “safe” dog that knows how to manage his biting.

Thus, it’s important that your puppy learns and acquires what it takes to manage his biting during his puppy hood. It would be difficult for him to be trained on biting inhibition when he reaches adolescence stage as his teeth will be big and sharp with strong jaw muscles. 

If you observe your puppy closely, you will see him biting on another puppy when they are playing around. This is in fact his way of learning how to manage his biting strength based on the feedback from the other puppy. Through this interaction, he will gradually develop his ABI.

What Should You Do?

There are 2 steps to your puppy biting inhibition training, They are Intensity and Frequency aspects.

You will have to focus on the intensity first because intensity had a time limit on it. This had to be carried out when your puppy was in his puppy hood whereas frequency of the biting can be corrected anytime, even when he had passed the puppy hood window period.

As you see progress in the training, the intensity of the biting should get softer before it gets less frequent.

Start With Biting Intensity Training

I would recommend that the best approach will be through socialization. Enroll your puppy in a puppy training class so that he gets the opportunity to play around with other dogs. 

Dogs are much better at giving responses when they get a bite. So when your puppy gets to play with other dogs, the response given by them will certainly be extremely helpful in assisting him to develop his ABI.

Of course, if going to training class is not an option for you, you can have your puppy play with your neighbour’s dogs. This will also help to train him on his biting and nipping skills but the progress might not be as good as a training class.

Your puppy will also have to learn how to handle his bite on humans. You have to teach him that  humans are super sensitive and every bite leads to pain.

So whenever your puppy bites on you, give out a loud “Ouch!” just as if you are hitting on a hard object.

Remember the following:

  1. Do not jerk your hand or leg away from your biting puppy as quick movement will only drive him to bite harder and keep chasing you.
  2. Remain calm and restrict any movement. You need to train your puppy to back off.
  3. Give out that loud “Ouch!” and your puppy will likely start to back off from you. 
  4. Give him the praise “Good Boy!” and gently pat him once he had backed off. If you have a treat with you, you can reward him for that “back off” action.

You need to have patience as 1-2 times of training won’t get you anywhere. You will need at least 3-4 weeks of constant training to see results.

Remember the goal is not to stop the biting but to make the biting get softer and softer as the training progresses.

Also make sure that you give your puppy that loud “Ouch” when he bites on your shirt or pant.

You see, your puppy is not able to differentiate the texture between skin and clothing, so if you allow him to bite on your clothing without giving him any reaction, he will learn that it is okay to bite on any parts of your body and that defeats the purpose of your training.

What if your puppy simply doesn’t back off with the biting during the training?

My suggestion to you is to get up and leave. Abort the training. This is what happens when a puppy bites another puppy too hard during playtime. The other puppy will walk away and stop playing with him.

So adopt this approach. Walk away and leave him alone. Your puppy will then know that he needs to adjust his biting intensity if he wants to continue with his play.

Come back a minute later to continue with your training. Remember to keep him away from your sight when you leave him alone. You have to get away when your puppy is too intense as continuing with the training will get you nowhere.

Learning Period For Bite Inhibition Training

After about 18 weeks, your puppy learning windows on bite inhibition training will be “closed” and the biting intensity training strategies shared in this post will not be effective. So act now before it’s too late.

In the event that you have got a dog that is more than 8 months old and not yet developed his ABI, you can now only focus on the frequency training. The intensity training simply won’t work on him now.

I would suggest that you reach out to a qualified trainer to help you out with the biting inhibition training.

Work On Reducing The Frequency Of The Bite

As your puppy biting gets softer over time and turns into soft mouthing, you are in a good position to work on the frequency incidents.

Focus on engaging him in impulse control and obedience training as well as positive reinforcement for good behavior. These training can help him to stop his mouthing behavior.

When he attempts to bite you, say “No Bite!” (train him on this command during his obedience training) and give him a reward the moment he backs off (positive reinforcement for his action to stop biting you).

Myths To Avoid

Train your puppy to “leave it” or “drop it”

This is certainly not going to provide the right kind of biting training that your puppy needs to develop his ABI. 

By refraining your puppy from biting, how is he going to get any feedback  to correct his biting intensity? You should only teach your puppy on these commands ONLY after he has mastered the bite inhibition.

Tap on your puppy nose

This will often make your puppy feel that you are a “bully” and will stop his interaction with you. It doesn’t really help with your puppy inhibition training.

Make use of a muzzle. 

This will stop all mouth interaction and make no sense. You are totally cutting off your puppy from any biting inhibition training opportunity

Redirect your puppy to a chewing toy.

This will work well if you are addressing your puppy teething issue to help him relieve the teething pains by chewing on the toys. 

Apart from relieving the pain, this does nothing to teach your puppy on ABI. Toys don’t tell your puppy that he is in pain when he bites aggressively!

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Play biting is not considered as bad behavior just like a baby who likes to cry at night, this is just part of the natural grown up behavior.

It may cause you much inconvenience but if you start your biting inhibition training soon enough, you should see progression in his ABI and get yourself a safe adult dog when he grows up.

But if your puppy is not only biting you when playing but also in other situations, you may find this post of interest to you!

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