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Mouthing and play biting in puppies

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

By Kierin Lund

Aug 2, 2022

“Ouch, that hurts!” Biting is a normal behavior in puppies. Very much like human babies, they often explore everything with their mouths. Since they don’t have hands puppies frequently use their mouths as part of the normal play with other dogs and humans. This is because the pup is experimenting with how much pressure they can use before they hear a squeal from their puppy playmate.

The pup is learning bite inhibition while they are trying out the level of pressure. Although normal, puppies have sharp teeth and their biting can be persistent. Some breeds like German Shepard puppies are known as baby sharks because their biting last so long in months in comparison to other breeds and is so intense! It is not uncommon for puppy pawrents to quickly become frustrated, potentially causing a poor relationship with family members.

To reduce these unwanted behaviors, you will need to prevent, manage, and modify your puppy’s environment to reduce opportunities for mouthing and biting.

What to do with a puppy that bites their owner?

  • Don’t rough house with your puppy. This encourages behavior that has trouble with boundaries.

  • Don’t yell or shout at your puppy. This is likely to make the behavior worse. It also teaches your puppy that humans can be unpredictable and scary.

  • Keep a pull toy available at all times. This is so you can trade- your body (hand, arm, leg, foot) with the toy.

  • Provide opportunities for learning that downtime is good for the family. Be aware of the need to play with toys for 10 minutes 3 times a day for bonding and enjoyment of getting to know your new family member. Take note of which toy(s) your pup enjoys!

  • Make sure your puppy’s basic needs are being met in terms of adequate exercise by playing, and interactive playtime with other pups.

  • Teaching behaviors such as the ones that The Wonderpup Way provides is a great way to begin your journey of joy with your new family member!

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