There’s nothing as exciting as getting a new puppy! But the excitement can quickly turn to stress because puppies are like toddlers with sharp teeth and no hands running around in your house.
All puppies use their mouths to explore and play so puppy mouthing and biting is a natural behaviour and likely doesn’t mean that your pup is aggressive at all, so rest assured there.
But it’s still a problem because dogs need to know that in the human world we don’t put teeth on skin. And sharp puppy teeth hurt!
This can be especially difficult when you have little kids to train as well. Kids just want to play without being chewed on and puppies just want to play… by chewing.
So what to do? Here are a couple of my starting tips:
- Teach your kids as well as your puppy. Puppies don’t have great impulse control so we need to help them handle their excitement by being calm and still when they’re getting over the top. I usually tell little kids to, “be a tree,” when puppy is getting too bitey. Running, flapping arms around and squealing all encourage the puppy to escalate the biting and jumping further. I do not have kids discipline pets – they have a role in learning calmness and respect with animals but they can’t be expected to take on all responsibility with the dog when they’re still learning themselves.
- Start play sessions with a toy rather than getting a toy out after the biting has already started. Occupy pup’s mouth with a chewable or soft toy during play. If you get the toy out after they start biting, this can redirect them but you need to be careful the puppy doesn’t see it as a reward that comes out after the biting.
- Ensure puppy gets a break. You probably feel like you need a break with all these kids and puppies running around. And you know what? You deserve one. Nap time and personal space are important for everyone, including your puppy. Just like kids, puppies can get tired and cranky, and they need a lot of sleep!
Puppies can be hard work, but this too shall pass. Try to focus on the joyful moments and savour puppyhood because it’ll be over before you know it.
If you need help with puppy training, check out the resources at our website including my online puppy course that goes through puppy raising essentials in more detail.