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Hesitant to teach him not to bite

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by derekhhh, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. derekhhh

    derekhhh PetForums Newbie

    Mar 15, 2019
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    Hi guys,

    My puppy is 4 months old. Whenever he plays, he bites. He's pretty good about not hurting you, but he still does it whenever he's in "play mode", which is 80% of the time.

    I've learned several methods of teaching him not to bite, but then I wonder, how will he play? I imagine if I were him, and couldn't use my hands to interact.. like tying my forearms to my upper arms, how that would feel..
    Also sometimes I want to play with him using my hands. So I wonder how to teach him to play back without biting. I don't always have a toy on hand to redirect him to.

    So can my puppy play in a satisfying way without biting? I feel he's already bored at times because I don't have time to give him the attention he wants.. so I wonder if training him not to bite would make him stressed or unsatisfied.

    I'd love to hear any thoughts on this!
  2. Wachholtz

    Wachholtz PetForums Newbie

    Mar 15, 2019
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    I would teach him not to put his mouth on people, or bite people. Ever. Even if he is gentle about it now that doesn't mean he can't accidentally hurt you (or someone else) when he's bigger and stronger.

    My dog was really mouthy (granted he was an adult dog when I got him). I ended up teaching him to play with toys instead of hands and arms. He just got too excited and always ended up biting too hard and then I would get upset with him and stop and he would be stuck in a hyper, agitated state with no outlet. It was the same thing every time. Eventually, it got to a point to where I would completely ignore him when he wanted to play unless he came to me with a toy in his mouth. Since he's caught on I haven't had any trouble with biting or mouthing. I feel like a good game of tug is more satisfying to him because he can be as rough as he wants with a rope, he doesn't have to hold back at all. Maybe you can teach him to "shake" or "high five" to encourage him to be handsy too, maybe you can teach him to play with his paws?.
  3. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2016
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    When your pup was with his siblings he would have learnt that play biting was a perfectly acceptable form of interaction, provided that he was gentle enough about it. Human skin is a lot more delecate though and doesn't have the protection of fur so we humans prefer not to be bitten. Rather than trying to teach him not to bite you need to teach him what he can bite and encourage that. Keep a range of toys dotted around the house and when he wants to play bite you can direct him onto these. If he bites you then all play stops for a short period. This will teach him that if he wants to bite then he needs to bite the toy.

    Yes you can play with a dog without toys. There are lots of things you can do, including games of chase and wrestling, however I would be reluctant to do this at the moment with a pup who hasn't yet learnt not to bite you. I play lots of rough and tumble games with my adult GSD and she sometimes mouths at me, which I allow because she is extremely gentle with it. However, I wouldn't have been able to do this with her at 4 months else I would have constantly had to stop play due to hard nipping.

    If your pup is biting you a lot then first teach him to be gentle with his teeth (good bite inhibition is really important). Allow the gentle bites, but if he bites a bit harder then play stops and you ignore him. Over time he will learn to be gentle and then you can phase out biting altogether (or if you are like me then you can allow very gentle mouthing).
  4. Woah

    Woah PetForums Member

    Dec 24, 2018
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    Toys, toys, toys! That’s how a puppy gets to use his mouth (his equivalent hands as you describe). Tug toys, balls , or a favourite of mine a simple piece of old rag (cut up old towels or old T-shirts). We can play tug the rag, fetch the thrown rag, find the hidden rag (topped with a treat to make it reward to find), catch the rag in your mouth - all sorts - a cheap and easily replenished toy.
    Avoid letting him play the way he did with his litter mates. YOU might not mind but other humans are likely to, and just imagine if a child went to pet him and he did that. Your dog could be accused of biting when you know he was just wanting to play.
    My dog when very young was very mouthy too so I’ve been through this. When time I went to my parents house my dad would happily go along with this mouthy Behavior encouraging it even. But the puppy tried to play with my mum in this way and tore her skin on her hand with his sharp puppy teeth making it bleed. He didn’t mean it - he was trying to play, but being older her skin is now delicate so this is just not acceptable and needless to say I think dad learned his lesson from it !
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