There’s nothing quite like having a new puppy. That fresh puppy smell, those floppy ears, and – ouch! – those sharp little puppy teeth. Puppy biting is no joke! If your new pup is treating you like a chew toy every time you try to play , use these tips to teach them to play nicely. 

Does Your Puppy Go Nutso At Night?

Why is it that when the sun goes down, those shark teeth come out? If your puppy gets hyper around bedtime, they might be overtired, just like a human child who has missed a nap. 

At night, your puppy might become so tired that their body generates a boost of cortisol and adrenaline to help them stay awake. This boost may be the reason why puppies get hyper and out of control in the evenings. 

If your puppy gets hyper during playtime, you may need to put them to bed early. Puppies need up to 20 hours of sleep per day, including naps, and may not be able to stay awake long enough to make it to bedtime.

How To Play To Prevent Puppy Biting

Your puppy’s milk teeth are sharp, and they may not know how to be gentle. While your puppy is still learning to play appropriately, you can limit your contact with those razor-sharp shark teeth by using large soft toys. 

When your puppy nips you, redirect them by waving around a soft toy. Praise your puppy when they go for the toy, rather than your fingers. 

If your puppy is teething, they may find it comforting to nibble on your fingers. Freezable teething toys can help numb the pain and spare your fingers. You can also soothe sore gums using other toys or rags, soaked in water and frozen.

Should You Allow Soft Puppy Biting?

When your puppy is still with their mom and littermates, they learn bite inhibition through mouthy play. If they bite their sibling too hard, that pup will shriek and stop playing with them. Puppies learn to develop a “soft mouth” when playing with their siblings.

But most puppies leave their littermates at just eight weeks old when they’re still learning those fundamental social skills. What’s more, your puppy will need to learn to be even  more  gentle with delicate human skin than they are with their wiggly, fur-covered littermates.

Bite inhibition is a useful skill your puppy can learn when they’re in that mouthy phase. Your puppy can learn to control the amount of force with which they close their mouth around your fingers. 

When your puppy is feeling playful, but not hyper, you can let them gently nip your fingers during play. When they bite too hard, try yelping “ouch!” and removing your fingers from their mouth, then stopping playtime for 10-15 seconds. 

Most puppies understand that reaction and will be more gentle when you continue to play with them. However, if your puppy is overtired or just especially exuberant, they might get even more excitable when you yelp and try to escape. If your puppy does not respond to a yelp and a break from play, you will need to give them some alone time, preferably behind a puppy gate. 

There is no need to resort to any physical retaliation like smacking your puppy on the nose, or yelling or scolding them. Nipping during playtime is not an expression of dominance or aggression. It is simply how your puppy learns to play appropriately. By ending playtime when your puppy gets too rough, you can teach them that the fun ends when they do not play nice. 

Get Your New Puppy Off To The Right Start With Healthy Houndz

Instill a lifelong love of learning by teaching your puppy with modern, positive-reinforcement based training techniques. 

Healthy Houndz offers in-person training for pet parents in Toronto and North York, as well as remote training lessons via Zoom for pet parents worldwide. 
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