How To Teach Bite Inhabition  

Teaching requires effective communication. Puppies simply don’t know their teeth hurt. Yelling or physical punishment won’t explain what’s wrong and can make biting worse. Grabbing, pushing, hitting or another contact with a biting pup makes him think you’re just playing rough, too - and hurting him can damage the bond you share or prompt him to retaliate even more. Yelling can be interpreted as you're “barking” just like him, and escalate his excitement.

Explain in terms your puppy can understand. While he won’t know specific words, use exaggerated body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to get the point across. Puppies don’t want to hurt you, and they don’t want the games to stop, so use this to teach a powerful lesson.

Be firm but kind. Instead of yelling when the biting becomes uncomfortable, say "No bite" in a firm but kind tone of voice, and then pout. Do not engage in bite play. This works especially well with tough pushy puppies.

 

If the mouthing hurts, yelp just as another pup would announce pain. Don’t pull away from him as that encourages a game of “tug” that you won’t win. If the yelp doesn’t make him let go, push in toward his mouth to prompt his gag-reflex so he’ll release.

 

Give the pup a time-out immediately after correction. Thirty-to-sixty-seconds is long enough for him to get the message. Confine in a small room out of sight before giving another chance and resuming the game. If he again bites too hard, repeat the yelp and time-out to teach the lesson that bites make the fun stop.

 

It may take several repetitions before he figures out the cause/effect that HE controls the game and can keep the fun going by acting like a gentleman. Once the pup mouths gently, praise him and allow the attention to continue.

Practice “Good” Bites

Once your puppy develops a soft mouth, teach him to stop mouthing on request and never to initiate mouthing. Periodic training sessions are essential throughout his life. A good drill might be to allow the pup to mouth for 15 seconds, then say "off" and offer a food reward or toy. He must stop mouthing to get the reward, which also pays him for stopping. After he takes the reward, he can resume mouthing for another 10 to 15 seconds if he likes, then repeat the exercise. You can start this by holding a treat in your fist and when he is gently interacting with your hand reward by offering the treat. Hard mouthing gets no treat.

Bite inhibition doesn't mean stopping the mouthing behavior altogether. That's too much to ask, and would be equivalent to tying your hands behind your back. Any dog may bite if provoked. But a dog with good bite inhibition that bites will cause no harm. And that's a comfort zone owners owe to themselves and to their dogs.