Puppies mouth, nip, bite and chew a lot. Although you might think this behavior is sort of cute, it can take a toll on your hands and arms, not to mention your shoes and socks. If puppies can cause damage when they bite, imagine what they can do when they’re all grown up. Once you understand why your puppy is biting, you can take measures to control it.
Puppies, like babies, spend much of their time exploring their world. And, like babies, puppies discover and investigate objects by putting their mouths on them. They’ll even investigate your hands, arms and legs by mouthing them. Besides simply mouthing objects, puppies bite and chew on them, too. Mouthing as a means of discovery usually subsides as your puppy matures.
Pups bite when they play. Dog trainer Casey Lomonaco pointed out in an article she wrote that puppies don’t play with blocks or dolls; they play biting games, among others. This helps them survive and navigate the canine world. A well-socialized pup will bite his playmate for fun, but if he bites too hard, his playmate will likely either yelp from pain or simply go away. Both end the play session, so the puppy learns to stop biting, or at least to bite gently if he wants a fun play session. But he also learns the effectiveness of the bite if he should ever need to use it.
Puppies teethe just like human babies do. This starts when a puppy is around 4 months old. Puppies have 14 upper and 14 lower teeth. But adult dogs have 21 upper and 21 lower teeth. When the permanent teeth start to come in, your puppy can feel it, and it’s uncomfortable. Provide plenty of chew toys around this time if you don’t want to see puppy bite marks all around your windowsills.
Your puppy might bite you because he’s bored and wants some attention. You might be engrossed in a TV show or in a computer trance, not realizing your puppy is staring at you with nothing to do. To get your attention, he might decide to nip or bite your leg. You will probably notice him if that happens. If you pay attention to your puppy only when he bites you, however, you are teaching him to bite. Play with your puppy to tire him out, and then you can engage in your activities in peace.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.