Biting isn’t always a bad thing. A little nipping generally is normal dog behavior, especially from hyperactive teething puppies. You’ll just need to work on getting his energy out beforehand. However, if your puppy is causing wounds or drawing blood from your older pooches, he might be playing too rough or acting aggressively, warranting a visit with a trainer.
Learning His Role
Dogs are pack animals by nature; they stick together. As with any group though, someone has to be in charge. If your puppy is trying constantly to overpower your older dog, biting down on his snout or jumping on him, little Fido is just trying to figure out his role in the pack. He’ll continue to try to fight for that top spot as the leader by challenging and nipping at your other dogs.
During play sessions, it’s perfectly normal for your canine crew to bite each other, chase each other’s tails and even growl a little while wrestling. You just haven’t seen these quirks in a while because your other dogs grew out of that phase long ago. Now that baby Fido is in the picture, he just wants to play with his new doggy family members. They may just have no desire to play with him in return.
Most puppy biting is normal and completely harmless. It is possible, however, that your puppy is fearful of your other dogs, which can make him act aggressively towards them. If you see little Fido holding his tail between his legs or sticking it straight out when he’s biting the other dogs, or showing his teeth or leaning forward, like he’s about to pick a fight, these are some warning signs of aggression. You’ll need to seek help from a dog training professional right away, before Fido gets any bigger or before he starts a brawl that could land one of his pack members in the hospital.
No matter the cause of Fido’s excessive biting, before just throwing him in with the rest of the pack, work on burning up his energy first. Take him on frequent walks throughout the day, put him in a puppy play group, toss the ball around the yard or give him his own special toys to play with while the other dogs are outside going potty. Once you wear him out, he’ll be much mellower when he joins your older dogs, which can prevent any unwanted puppy nipping.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.