Puppies often bite, which is why many owners may overlook the behavior. A nipping puppy can be cute, but a biting full-size dog can be dangerous. If you want your puppy to grow into a well-behaved dog, you need to understand why he bites and train him to stop early on.
Why Puppies Bite
Biting and mouthing are in a puppy's nature. Mouthing is where the puppy wraps his mouth around something, but doesn't apply biting pressure. One of the problems that arises with puppies is that many are taken from their mother before she has a chance to teach them about biting. Puppies who are taken from their mother before 12 weeks will be more apt to bite. This is how they explore the world around them. Specific reasons include playing, trying to become alpha, hunger, exploration, excitement/hyper behavior, fear, anger, herding tendencies and teething.
Break a puppy from biting using a mother dog's technique -- yelp when he bites you while playing. This works because he understands that he's hurting you. When he stops biting or begins to lick you, praise him. Begin playing with him again until he bites you again and repeat the yelp noise and praising when he stops. Give your dog chew toys and use positive reinforcement to encourage the dog to bite the toys instead of you. You can also put your dog in time-out whenever he bites. Above all though, you need to be patient. Puppies will bite and it will take time to curb the behavior.
It can be acceptable to let your puppy mouth as a way to explore the world around her. However, biting is not acceptable and if you don't break the behavior, your dog will think it's OK. As your dog gets older, the bites will get harder. Even if your dog is playing, she may hurt someone. Your dog may even begin to use biting to get what she wants. Do not let this happen. Take precautions early in life to prevent this from happening.
Getting Professional Help
Sometimes you can't break the biting behavior of a puppy on your own. This is when you'll need to hire a professional. In some cases, the puppy may have a problem with aggression or you're not sure how to act as the alpha. Either way, the professional trainer will work with you and your puppy to break the biting habit.