Question: My puppy is biting too hard. Is this normal? How do I stop it?
Often a puppy will chew too hard on fingers and toes, or any other exposed body parts. Don't worry. This is completely normal. (It is often mistaken for aggressive behavior).
When a puppy is in the pack, he will chew on his litter mates. This is a form of play. His mouth is like our hands. Puppies do not experience the same pain we feel. They have fewer nerve endings in their skin. To chew on your hands is a sign of endearment.
Stopping this habit is extremely easy as long as you follow these directions exactly. I have tried many tactics, but none even came close to working as well as this. It will work for the children, too, even if you are the only one giving the lesson. This will take place in about five minutes on one particular day. You will probably never need to do it again.
You are going to play the game with him. Do not scold or punish him. Just play the game. Here's how:
While he is biting your hands, use your thumb and index finger to force his upper lips up against the sharp canines. (The area between your thumb and finger will rest on his nose). Give a squeeze just hard enough to make him yelp. Once you let go, he will probably charge you for more. Give it to him. This time, squeeze just a little harder, and hold the pressure for about three seconds of yelping. He will either give you a disgusted look and disappear behind the sofa, or charge you again. He may appear madder than heck, and growl as he's charging.
This should not be taken as aggression. Remember, this whole thing is a game to him. Each time he returns for more, let him have it again. Extend the hold time for two seconds every round. Do this for as many times as he returns and bites too hard. (If the biting becomes gentle mouthing, there is no need to continue). Do not quit in the middle of the game. Keep playing until he learns he can't win. Otherwise, he wins by default, and you've created a monster.
Eventually, he will go off and pout. Don't go after him. Leave him alone. He will come back in a better mood after a good nap. (Remember how you felt the first time you lost pitifully in Monopoly?)If you find it necessary to do this over and over, it means you are being too soft on him. (It should only take one five minute session to teach him). Remember, the whole idea is to convince him he can't win at this game. Do not hold his mouth closed! This will encourage him.
If you are having further trouble with biting, please schedule a private session with us.
We would be happy to help you overcome this.