Redirection is KEY
It's important to understand that between 3 and 6 months of age your puppy is teething. Meaning, just like kids they're getting all their adult teeth coming in at the same time. If you've ever experienced this with a child, it's very similar. They want to bite on everything including you! It's key to note that this behavior is prompted by a painful experience that's happening in their mouth. They're biting to help soothe the pain they're feeling. This behavior will occur during this age regardless of how you handle it. But handling it properly is key.
Redirection is going to be the BEST tool you can use. So instead of your puppy biting on you, they can bite on a frozen Kong or bone to help ease the pain. Providing them with plenty of textures and options is the easiest way to have good ways to redirect them.
Handle the Puppy Training Properly
Know that although puppy nipping is extremely normal behavior, it's also not ok to allow them to bite you. This is the part where you step up with your puppy training and teach them right from wrong. It's good to have a word or sound that means something they're doing is wrong. We recommend using something short and loud like "AH!" or "AH-AH!" when using this method. You'll want to make this loud sharp sound anytime your puppy starts puppy nipping. Then redirect them to an appropriate item to chew on.
Make sure when using this method that you don't accidentally reward the behavior of them biting you with a toy. You want to make this sound first to communicate that what they did is wrong and then you provide them with the toy afterwards, but not immediately afterwards like you would with a reward. It's best to ask them to do a behavior like a sit for you before you give them their chew toy or bone.
Understand Why Whats Happening & Why
Although puppy nipping can be extremely frustrating to deal with, know that it's a direct result of pain and try to have some empathy for your pup. It's never a good idea to hit your dog or try to hurt them back for doing this behavior. Years ago, trainers would advise that you bite your dog back so that they understand how much it hurts or to push your dogs tongue down so they bite it. We now know that methods like these ones described are not only ineffective, but they can cause more damage down the road.
Whenever dealing with a teething dog, take the opportunity to implement good dog training techniques and you will see beneficial results. Studies have shows that redirection and aversion sounds do help to minimize the puppy nipping phase. Mostly, keep in mind that you're not alone in this process. Every new puppy owner that gets a young puppy goes through this and knows just how stressful it can be. If you're not successful in trying to redirect your puppy, check out our dog training options. We're happy to help guide you in the right direction.