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A Boston Terrier puppy is a bundle of playful energy, and puppies often play by using their mouths to grab things--toys, rawhide bones... your hand!
These people-motivated dogs like to play and bite at your hand or ankle to get your attention and let you know they want to play some more. Most puppies tend to be “mouthy” as their teeth come in, and because your Boston Terrier does not have opposable thumbs, his mouth is his best option for grabbing onto something, or someone!
Boston Terriers tend to be a particularly “mouthy” breed. In a puppy this behavior is not generally meant to show aggression as much as it is a means of interacting with you, however, what is cute in a puppy will not be cute as your Boston Terrier gets older and biting becomes harder and more difficult to stop. Even a small dog like a Boston Terrier can cause injury if they bite, especially on delicate skin or on extremities like the hand or ankle. Teaching your Boston Terrier good manners, which include not biting or nipping even in play will serve you and your dog well in the future. It is a lot easier to guide a puppy not to nip and bite during play than an older dog that has established this behavior as a way of getting what he wants.
Training your Boston Terrier Puppy not to bite is important in establishing boundaries that your dog will respect as he grows up. You will need to communicate with your puppy that biting you is not acceptable behavior. There are several things you can do to establish this important boundary: provide appropriate chew materials, ensure that biting behavior is not reinforced by allowing play to continue or giving attention after biting or nipping, and establish you are his leader--dogs do not bite at dominant members of their pack. A puppy may need to chew as they are teething, but they need to understand what is appropriate chewing material: toys and bones, not people. You will need to provide firm direction without losing your temper, which is an emotional state easily misunderstood by young dogs that can cause them to become confused or anxious as a result. Be calm and consistent to inhibit biting behavior in your Boston Terrier puppy.
Make sure everyone in your household, as well as visitors, are aware of your “no tolerance for biting” policy, to maintain consistency and avoid inadvertently reinforcing biting. You will need chew toys to redirect your Boston Terrier's biting behavior to a more appropriate target. You can use a deterrent like bitter spray as well to discourage biting in your Boston Terrier puppy. Always make sure you use something pet appreciate that will not make your dog sick. Appropriate products are available from pet supply stores. Remember to be patient and firm to direct your young dog.
The Extinguish Biting Method
Play with a toy
Play with your Boston Terrier puppy. Use a chew toy or other appropriate chewing target.
Simulate sibling puppy
When your puppy grabs onto your hand or arm with his mouth, make a loud noise to startle him. This simulates what a puppy sibling would do, which is to yelp when bitten too hard. Let your arm go limp, but do not pull it away, which inadvertently reinforces your puppy by allowing him to “win”.
When your puppy releases your arm or hand, stop playing and walk away.
Repeat consistently. If your puppy bites or mouths you, startle him into stopping and cease play, affection and attention. Withdraw and walk away.
Reinitiate play after about a few minutes, withdraw when biting or mouthing occurs.
The Redirect Biting Method
Play with your Boston Terrier puppy.
When your puppy bites, nips or mouths your hand, tap him on the side with a chew toy. You puppy should release your hand and instinctively turn his head to see what is touching his flank.
Direct to the toy
When your puppy turns his head, wave the chew toy to get his attention focused.
Play with the toy
Allow your puppy to grab and chew on the toy. Play with the toy, including tug of war or fetch.
Never let him continue biting your hand, always redirect to an appropriate toy.
The Deterrence Method
Apply bitter spray
Put a bitter spray on the sleeve of a long sleeve shirt and initiate play with your Boston Terrier puppy.
When your Boston Terrier Puppy grabs your arm, do not pull your arm out of his mouth. Instead make a loud noise and grab with your other hand on his flank. Do not grab hard, but rather make a motion similar to what another, older dominant dog would do, to reprimand a wayward puppy.
Command 'leave it'
When your startled pup releases you after getting a mouth full of bitter taste, and reprimanded with a “nip” on the side, release his side and say “leave it” or “no”.
Repeat over several days when playing to establish that biting and nipping are not pleasant.
Use a command
Gradually start providing the command “leave it” or “no” as soon as your puppy starts mouthing your arm or hand. Your Boston Terrier should start to respond to the command as he learns that biting has unpleasant consequences.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021