Puppies start learning about the force of their bites when interacting with their littermates. If a puppy nips a sibling too hard, the other puppy will react with a squeal and move away from the play. The rough puppy soon learns that painful nips make the game stop, and adjusts bite pressure accordingly. We can employ the same concept in training with the “ouch” technique.
Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition with people doesn’t recognize the sensitivity of human skin, so he bites too hard, even in play. Some behaviorists and trainers believe that a dog who has learned to use his mouth gently when interacting with people will be less likely to bite hard and break skin if he ever bites someone in a situation apart from play—like when he’s afraid or in pain.

Alternatively, you can keep a leash attached to your dog when you’re around to supervise him. Let the leash drag on the floor. Instead of leaving the room when your dog mouths you, you can immediately take hold of his leash and calmly lead him to a quiet area. When you get there, tether him to a heavy piece of furniture or put him behind a baby gate to confine him. Then leave the area or turn your back to your dog for the brief time-out. When the time-out is over, untie him or release him, and resume whatever you were doing.
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
Everyone in the family should be consistent with this training. Children should be taught how to handle a bite from a puppy, and should be supervised when they are playing with the puppy. The children may have to learn how to play with the puppy just as the puppy needs to learn to play with them. Be careful not to allow the puppy to mouth or bite on your fingers. Some people mistakenly see this as affectionate or cute behavior. It is, in fact, teaching your dog that it is all right to bite people, and can develop into serious dog aggression if untreated. Not a message that you wish to leave with your puppy!

If you want to prevent and stop your dog biting, then the best time thing you can do is start training your dog when it is a puppy. Puppies naturally love to play, and enjoy interacting with people. But they are also impressionable, so if you teach them right from wrong early on and enforce it consistently, then they will not develop bad habits such as biting.
Encourage noncontact forms of play, such as fetch and tug-of-war, rather than wrestling and rough play with your hands. Teaching your dog to play tug-of-war prepares him for dealing with arousal and frustration. To keep tug-of-war safe and fun for you and your dog, you’ll need to follow strict rules. Once your dog can play tug safely, keep tug toys in your pocket or in a place where you can easily access them. If he starts to mouth you, you can immediately redirect him to the tug toy. Ideally, he’ll start to anticipate and look for a toy when he feels like mouthing.
If you want to prevent and stop your dog biting, then the best time thing you can do is start training your dog when it is a puppy. Puppies naturally love to play, and enjoy interacting with people. But they are also impressionable, so if you teach them right from wrong early on and enforce it consistently, then they will not develop bad habits such as biting.
Make sure to have a variety of goodies available that your puppy can chew on instead of you. Your puppy has an intense desire to exercise those jaws, so stock up on several different types of hard treat-stuffable rubber toys and bones. Plush toys are great for team play, but they don’t have the tasty payoff that comes from a toy stuffed with peanut butter or a durable bone.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to a certain group of antibiotics. Dogs and other animals can carry MRSA without showing any symptoms, but the bacteria can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in people. In some people, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.
Another (extreme) reason puppies can bite is if they are trying to assert their dominance over you. If this is the case with your puppy, it must be stopped immediately. When you have a dominant puppy his biting will only be the beginning of many behavioral problems. To learn how to establish your position as the dominant one or leader in your owner-dog relationship click here.
Games with your puppy should only happen with toys. Engaging in slap fights or encouraging your puppy to nip at your hands during play time will lead to confusion when you try to inhibit the biting in other contexts. Tug, fetch and “find it” are wonderful games that help grow the bond with your puppy, but also provide ample opportunity to hone your dog’s mouth skills. It’s normal for puppies to slip up during playtime and accidentally grab a finger instead of the toy. When that happens, mark the nip with an “ouch,” drop the toy and ignore your puppy. Wait ten seconds, then go back to playing. Your puppy will soon make the connection that her teeth belong on the toy, not you.
If you want to prevent and stop your dog biting, then the best time thing you can do is start training your dog when it is a puppy. Puppies naturally love to play, and enjoy interacting with people. But they are also impressionable, so if you teach them right from wrong early on and enforce it consistently, then they will not develop bad habits such as biting.
If your puppy bites at your feet and ankles, carry his favorite tug toy in your pocket. Whenever he ambushes you, instantly stop moving your feet. Take out the tug toy and wave it enticingly. When your puppy grabs the toy, start moving again. If you don’t happen to have the toy available, just freeze and wait for your puppy to stop mouthing you. The second he stops, praise and get a toy to reward him. Repeat these steps until your puppy gets used to watching you move around without going after your feet or ankles.
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