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How To Stop a Puppy From Biting

puppy biting
puppy biting

Understanding and Managing Puppy Biting Behavior

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. But it’s not all puppy breath and playtime—soon, your puppy will bite everything they can get their mouth on. But why do puppies bite so much when they are young? Is it normal? Should you be trying to stop your puppy from biting you? When does it indicate there’s a problem?

Here’s a breakdown of puppy biting behavior and what you can do to help your puppy learn how (and when!) to use their mouth appropriately.

Why Do Puppies Bite?

It’s normal for puppies to use their teeth during play and exploration. It’s how they learn about the world, and it plays an important role in their socialization. Not to mention, puppies also chew on everything—including you and your clothes—while they are teething.

Here are a few reasons why puppies bite:

  1. They’re Exploring the World Puppies learn a lot from biting things, including other puppies, their pet parents, and inanimate objects. They receive sensory information about how hard they can bite that particular object, what it tastes like, and whether they should modify their behavior. Depending on the feedback a puppy receives, like the taste and consistency of the object or the reaction they get, a puppy may continue to bite, change their bite pressure, or stop entirely.

  2. Your Puppy Is Teething Adult dog teeth start to grow in when your puppy is 12–16 weeks old, and your puppy’s gums may be a bit sore during this time. Because of this, puppy biting tends to hit its peak when a pup is about 13 weeks old. During this time, you’re likely to see an increase in chewing on objects—including you, your clothes, and maybe even your hair.

  3. It’s Play Behavior Some puppies nip or bite to entice play. When puppies bite each other, they learn a very important skill: bite inhibition. With play biting, puppies learn how much pressure they can apply with their teeth and what happens when they bite too hard. For example, let’s say Puppy A and Puppy B are playing together. When Puppy A bites too hard and causes pain in Puppy B, Puppy B will cry out and refuse to continue to play with Puppy A. Puppy B may even move away from Puppy A. Through this interaction, Puppy A learns that if he bites too hard, other puppies won’t play with him. So, Puppy A makes his play bites softer, so they don’t result in play with Puppy B ending. Some puppies may learn through a one-time process, while other puppies need multiple play sessions with multiple puppies to learn to soften their bite. Your puppy will try to engage in play by biting you because, to them, this is a normal dog behavior. When this happens, you will need to understand how to respond so your puppy has clear and gentle guidance.

How To Get a Puppy to Stop Biting

Curbing your puppy’s biting and nipping largely depends on why he’s doing it in the first place. Here’s how to stop your puppy from biting for common reasons.

If Your Puppy’s Chewing Your Belongings

Schedule exercise, play, and sessions for mental stimulation for your puppy. In addition, they will need time to sleep undisturbed. When they have extra energy, are bored, or are overtired, your puppy may chew on random items (or you) as a result. Give your puppy a wide variety of puppy toys to chew on, and pick up other household items within their reach that they shouldn’t chew on. If you see your puppy biting on inappropriate objects around the house, calmly redirect them to a toy instead. Once they engage with the toy, praise them.

If Your Puppy’s Teething

Puppy teething toys ease sore gums and are typically made with softer plastic so they won’t hurt the baby teeth or incoming adult teeth. Some teething-friendly toys include:

  • N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring

  • Nylabone Puppy Chew Freezer Dog Toy

  • Playology Puppy Teething Bone

Always supervise your puppy when they play with any toys to make sure that they do not chew off small pieces and swallow them.

If Your Puppy’s Biting You to Play

If your puppy bites to start play or during play and will not be redirected to a toy, immediately get up and remove yourself from the puppy’s area. Go into another room or to the other side of a gate or barrier so the puppy can’t follow. Remain out of the area for about 30 seconds. When you return, get a toy and resume play. You may need to repeat this process. Remember: If your puppy is tired, this can increase biting. Your puppy may need to be encouraged to nap.

Never encourage nipping by enticing a puppy to chase your hands or toes. Soon enough, your puppy will get bigger and their teeth will be sharper. The puppy nip that used to be harmless will turn into a bite that is no longer fun.


Puppy biting is a normal part of their development and a way for them to learn about the world. Understanding why your puppy bites and how to respond appropriately will help guide your puppy in using their mouth properly. With patience, positive reinforcement, and appropriate toys, you can help your puppy grow into a well-behaved dog.


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