Tired of your puppy's jaws-like playing? Puppy biting/mouthing is a natural, normal behavior. This form of play is essential in developing a dog with good bite inhibition, the ability to control the strength of their bite. If your puppy learns to control his mouth and he does bite in the future, he is less likely to cause much damage.
To help with your puppy's mouthing, we recommend the following tips:
1. Let your puppy use his mouth. In the beginning it's okay to let your puppy mouth but provide feedback when the pressure increases. When your puppy mouths harder, say 'Ow!" and turn away and ignore your puppy for a few seconds. Resume play once your dog settles down. If your puppy becomes more rambunctious and amped up, you can say "Ow" and leave the room for 30 seconds. Over the next couple of weeks, you will react to any pressure on your skin. Even light mouthing with no pressure will cause an "Ow" and a temporary pause in play.
2. Play appropriately with your pup. Wrestling with your pup and putting your hands in your dog's face will encourage him to mouth and bite your hands. Use toys that create distance between your hands and the toy. Play games like tug with rules or scent games.
3. Socialize your pup to friendly, vaccinated dogs. Puppies need to learn to control their mouth around dogs as well as people. If you don't know any, enroll in a puppy class.
4. Give your pup appropriate toys and chews. Use food dispensing toys like Kongs to feed your puppy his meals and provide bully sticks and marrow bones. Replace your hands with a chew and praise your pup when he chews appropriate toy.
With some patience and gentle guidance, your pup will learn to control his mouth and be on his way to becoming a well behaved member of your family.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant