Cocker Specific Discussion > Puppies

How Do I Stop My Puppy from Play Biting


Jane S:
Mouthing/Play biting in your puppy

**You can read a useful article on Puppy Play Biting by Dr Ian Dunbar HERE **

Almost all puppies will nip, mouth or play bite. It is perfectly normal behaviour. However, unless you control it, it can get out of hand and turn your puppy into a menace who you no longer enjoy. Its a problem that differs in severity with each puppy, but you need to take firm control from the start.

The biting can happen for a number of reasons including becoming too excitable in play, being encouraged to play rough, being tired and wanting some peace. The main thing to remember is control and consistency. All family members must treat the puppy the same. No one must accept any biting of a person at all. Whenever a puppy puts his teeth on you, you need to stop and teach it NO.

Play-biting when a puppy is playing they can become excited and start to nip. In this case it is up to you to spot when this is about to happen. Change the activity from jolly play to gentle play or let the puppy rest in his bed. If a nip happens before you can stop/change the play, stop immediately, say a very firm no and turn away from the puppy. Totally ignore him/her. Do this any time it happens and he will soon learn what has caused you to turn away. It is preferable though to stop a nip even happening. Learn how much stamina your puppy has and to spot the signs of him becoming tired or bored. Change the activity or put him to bed. Hopefully the nip wont happen.

Playing rough the simple answer here is dont play rough. If you or someone else goads the puppy on it will respond in the only way it can a nip that can soon turn into a bite and a problem dog. Dont allow any rough play at all. Encourage chase the ball games instead or teaching obedience.

If a puppy gets over tired particularly when young children wont leave him alone, again it is likely to nip. That too can turn to biting. The puppy must be allowed to rest and have its own space where it can be alone.

Persistent biting/mouthing if your puppy is persistently biting/mouthing, try the above technique of saying no and turning away. If that does not work, you can put the puppy out of the room. Again, dont look at him/her or acknowledge him in anyway. Put him out of the room and leave him for a couple of minutes. Do this every time he doesnt stop at no. He will soon learn what is happening. The puppy wants to be with you so he will learn that biting gets him taken away from you and the biting should stop. Do not try to stare at your puppy. He may get confused and feel threatened and react even more badly.

Remember the play-biting stage if handled correctly passes quickly. Most puppies have found their place by the time they are about 6 months or so old. Those who are still having problems are often not being given consistent messages from all those around them. Be consistent and dont be afraid to back to stage one if problems start to re-occur.

By P Gair 2003                  


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