How to cope with puppy mouthing/biting

Getting a new puppy is a very exciting time, but one issue that a lot of families struggle with is puppy biting/mouthing.

Puppies explore the world with their mouths. Therefore, our hands, arms, legs, and clothing are all at risk of feeling those pin-sharp tiny teeth, and this can be quite scary for young children.

The good news is providing they are managed appropriately the vast majority of puppies grow out of being mouthy by around 6 months of age.

Keeping excitement levels under control

Most of the biting/mouthing occurs when a puppy gets over-excited. The key is to have plenty of toys to hand so that you can keep encouraging your pup to take their excitement out on something more appropriate.

Keeping excitement levels under control when your pup is around young children is important as they are more likely to squeal or run away from the pup once the mouthing starts, and this will just entice the puppy to do it even more. The pup may see the child as an interactive squeaky toy.

For pups that like to nibble on ankles or try to play tuggy with trouser legs, a top tip for children is for them to wear wellington boots. By doing this, the child can just stand still until the pup realises he isn’t going to get a response and move on to something else.

When it comes to your pup playing with a child, we recommend tying a soft toy onto a piece of rope so that the child can drag the toy around for the pup to chase and grab. This way, the pups teeth are well away from the child’s hands, but they can still have fun together.

You might be tempted to give a verbal warning to your puppy for using their teeth inappropriately.  However, it’s important to note that this approach is very confusing for the puppy. In his world, he isn’t aware he’s doing anything wrong, so to scare them into not doing something could be potentially very damaging for your relationship.

Other reasons why a puppy might bite

Puppies also get very mouthy when they are tired. In homes with young children, there can be a lot of stimulation and therefore the pup may not be getting the rest and naps he needs. Remember – a tired pup can be a grumpy pup.

Frustration is a major reason why puppies tend to get nippy, especially the time it takes for them to become fully vaccinated. To keep them occupied consider enrichment feeding, regular short training sessions, and scent games. Once they can start going for walks things generally get a bit easier but try not to overdo it or your puppy will easily become overtired.

If you are really struggling with a nipping episode, it’s best to leave the room and give yourself a ‘time out’ so that the pup can calm down and you can find something more appropriate for him to do.

Sign up for our family-friendly online workshop!

Our free, digital workshop will take you and your family on a fun-packed, four-legged journey exploring what keeps dogs healthy and happy – complete with videos, quizzes and facts. All you need is a Google account. Don’t worry if you don’t have an account, you can set one up via the link. Show your dog you love them, sign up today!

Still need some support?

If you are struggling with managing your puppies biting/mouthing please don’t hesitate to contact us for support.

How helpful was this?

Thanks for your rating

Could this article be improved?