How to Stop Puppy Biting, Mouthing and Jumping up

If you have a new puppy, it’s common to have questions about how to stop puppy play-biting, mouthing and jumping up. Find out more with Purina.
puppy chewing a cushion

Your new little bundle is likely to be excited on meeting you and family, and will see you as new playmates to have fun with. However, it's essential that early on, they learn rules around what is or isn't acceptable behaviour. Without this, your puppy will grow into a dog who will carry puppy habits such as play-biting, mouthing or jumping up into adulthood. As adults, puppy habits such as these become more serious problems; being bigger and heavier, dogs can cause injury without meaning to.

So, when your pup comes home with you, start to teach good manners straight away. This means gentle, positive reinforcement – reward the 'good' where your puppy is displaying the behaviour you want to see and ignore the behaviours you don’t want to encourage. Never punish your puppy verbally or physically. You will just make them fearful of you and it will not have the effect you desire.

Puppy biting

Puppies in a litter together will play with each other and this will involve lots of rough and tumble and play-biting - but you don't want puppy biting to be a continued behaviour, especially not into adulthood. Whilst it's fine for you to have fun together, playtime shouldn't involve teeth, and it’s a good idea to use gentle training to discourage puppy biting.

Puppy teeth are sharp, and the occasional nip might happen while you or your child and the pup are playing. Many puppy owners experience this play-biting, and many wonder how to stop a puppy from nipping. Discourage your puppy nipping fingers or hands by saying ‘no’ in a gentle voice, taking fingers away and giving a toy instead. Always have a soft toy nearby to give as a substitute. If the play biting continues, finish the game and walk away from your puppy so they learn that if they want to play with you, teeth are not an option! Done consistently, your pup will learn that play-biting is not appropriate.

When training, reinforce good behaviour with praise and a treat, so your pup is encouraged to develop good manners. Do not use punishment such as shouting at/smacking your puppy to try and stop puppy biting. This can make things worse and break down their trust in you - they will learn much more quickly by positive, kind reinforcement.

Puppy jumping up

Don’t despair if you’re wondering how to stop a puppy jumping up. Most puppies jump up as it is natural greeting behaviour and of course they want your attention. If your puppy frequently jumps up at you or your child, this behaviour should be discouraged by ignoring them (and even turning your back on them), waiting until they put their paws on the ground, and then crouching down and giving them the attention they want – and a tasty treat. Soon they will learn that if they want your attention, the way to get it is to be polite with all four paws on the ground. Make sure everyone in the family does the same thing – and if one person is encouraging the puppy to jump up, your training will be pretty unsuccessful! Once your puppy knows how to ‘sit’ when you ask, you can ask them to do that instead and reward them. Make sure though that you give the reward when the pup is doing the behaviour you desire – even if for the shortest time! They'll soon associate sitting instead of jumping with treats. Actively teaching them the sit command also means you can use this to help you with preventing jumping. For more puppy training tips see here.

puppy jumping up

Puppy mouthing

All puppies 'mouth', especially during puppy teething which will be from about 12 weeks onwards up until they are about 6 months old. Gradually their baby teeth will fall out to be replaced by adult teeth. Just as a baby might experience discomfort as they teeth, so too might your puppy and they may develop an insatiable appetite for mouthing. As with play-biting, using your fingers or hand as a puppy mouthing toy is not to be encouraged. Giving your pup chew toys meant for puppies will give them an outlet for this natural need to mouth and will also distract them. Have appropriate toys at hand and give your puppy a satisfying toy anytime they try to mouth your hands, or chew something in the house that they are not meant to. As always, reward the behaviour you want with lots of praise.

Puppy chewing

Many puppies like to chew things as they’re growing up. It’s a way of exploring their surroundings and discovering new things. Puppies also ‘teethe’, and in these cases, it is natural and safe for your puppy to bite their favourite toys.

Why do puppies chew?

If your puppy is chewing things, it can directly point to puppy teething as the root of their behaviour. You might assume that you should stop a puppy chewing right away, but this chewing is totally natural and when their chewing is directed at safe toys it is a healthy exercise.

If however your puppy is chewing things that are inappropriate or dangerous, it is a good idea to help manage the behaviour to stop puppy chewing from getting out of hand, and direct it onto something more appropriate. Excessive chewing can also be down to boredom or stress, so addressing these root causes will not only help stop a puppy chewing but improve their wellbeing as well.

puppy chewing a toy

A qualified and experienced behaviourist can help your find the cause of your puppy’s excessive chewing, also if you are concerned, take him for a check-up with your vet right away. In the meantime, here are some general tips to keep puppy chewing on the safer side.

  • Make sure you have a safe secure place for your puppy to be if you have to leave them alone. This should be somewhere comfortable where they are used to being that is free from anything that could be dangerous or get damaged if chewed! A crate can be very useful, but needs to be introduced properly and seen as a safe, snuggly place. Don't leave your puppy until he or she is used to being in their crate and is settled – and a crate should never be used for long periods of time.
  • Give your dog lots of safe chew toys that help alleviate boredom. If you can redirect his chewing to these toys, he won’t focus so much on the items you do not want him to chew.
  • When you see your puppy chewing something off-limits redirect their attention to a safe chew toy that he can chew to their heart’s content.
  • Praise your puppy when you see him chewing a safe and appropriate toy.
  • • Considering putting your puppy in a playpen when you’re in the home but can’t watch them all the time. Make sure they have some safe chew-toys as well. That way they’ll have room to play safely.