How to Stop Puppy Biting, Mouthing and Jumping up
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 'bad'. Never punish your puppy verbally or physically. You will just make them fearful and it will not have the effect you desire.
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 stop 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 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. Done consistently, your pup will learn that play-biting is forbidden. When training, reinforce good behaviour with ‘good boy/girl’ voice commands and/or clickers, so your pup is encouraged to develop good manners. Do not use negative enforcements such as shouting at/smacking your puppy to try and stop puppy biting. 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. If your puppy frequently jumps up at you or your child, this behaviour should also be discouraged with a gentle ‘no’, helping them back down to all fours, and praising when they do this. You can use verbal commands when you do this, such as 'paws down'. Treats can be helpful in training. Make sure though that you give them when the pup is doing the behaviour you desire – even if for the shortest time! They'll soon associate sitting 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.
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. If this habit continues into adulthood it could cause some serious damage. Giving your pup chew toys meant for puppies will 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. Reward the positive behaviour with lots of praise.
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 ‘teeth’, 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 when their chewing is directed at safe toys and isn’t excessive, it can be a healthy exercise.
However, if your puppy is always chewing things, particularly if the things he chews are off-limits or dangerous, it is a good idea to help manage his behaviour to stop puppy chewing from getting out of hand. 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.
Your vet can help your find the cause of your puppy’s excessive chewing, so if you are concerned, take him for a check-up right away. In the meantime, here are some general tips to keep puppy chewing on the safer side.
- Encourage your puppy to stay in his basket when you leave your home. If he’s in his basket, he can’t get up to so much mischief. A crate can be very useful but needs to be seen as a safe, snuggly place. Don't leave your puppy until he or she is used to being in their crate, and are settled. Start off for very short periods, just in the other room and you can gradually extend the time away. However, don't leave your puppy alone for long periods.
- 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 off-limits items.
- When you see your puppy chewing something off-limits say ‘No’ to signal inappropriate behaviour. Redirect attention to a safe chew toy that he can chew without being told off.
- 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 him all the time. Make sure he has some safe chew-toys as well. That way he’ll have room to play, but won’t be able to chew things he’s not meant to.