How to Train a Boston Terrier Puppy to Not Bite

Easy
2-5 Days
Behavior

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Play with a toy
Play with your Boston Terrier puppy. Use a chew toy or other appropriate chewing target.
Step
2
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”.
Step
3
Stop play
When your puppy releases your arm or hand, stop playing and walk away.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat consistently. If your puppy bites or mouths you, startle him into stopping and cease play, affection and attention. Withdraw and walk away.
Step
5
Reinitiate play
Reinitiate play after about a few minutes, withdraw when biting or mouthing occurs.
Recommend training method?

The Redirect Biting Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Initiate play
Play with your Boston Terrier puppy.
Step
2
Distract
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.
Step
3
Direct to the toy
When your puppy turns his head, wave the chew toy to get his attention focused.
Step
4
Play with the toy
Allow your puppy to grab and chew on the toy. Play with the toy, including tug of war or fetch.
Step
5
Be consistent
Never let him continue biting your hand, always redirect to an appropriate toy.
Recommend training method?

The Deterrence Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Apply bitter spray
Put a bitter spray on the sleeve of a long sleeve shirt and initiate play with your Boston Terrier puppy.
Step
2
Deter biting
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.
Step
3
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”.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat over several days when playing to establish that biting and nipping are not pleasant.
Step
5
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.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bruiser
Boston Terrier
9 Months
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Question
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Bruiser
Boston Terrier
9 Months

We give him chew bones but only let him eat like half at a time. Lately, in the last week, he has started to get aggressive when we try to take from him. He growls and bites now. In fact, he bit me so hard it drew blood.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Pocholo
Boston Terrier
7 Weeks
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Question
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Pocholo
Boston Terrier
7 Weeks

The problem is that the dog is bitting me and my children and it is very concerning also he needs to be potty trained because he is pooping and peeing in the house.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello! While this is very common for puppies his age, it is definitely something you want to put a stop to before it becomes a habit that follows him into adulthood. I am going to send you information on the nipping/biting, as well as potty training. This will be a fairly long response, but it will be full of useful information. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Question
Herbie
Boston Terrier
14 Months
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Herbie
Boston Terrier
14 Months

He overall is a great dog but there is a problem. We will just be sitting there and out of nowhere he starts barking at me and biting me arms, hands, anything he can grab and I try and give him a chew toy as an alternate but it doesn’t work. I put him in his crate to calm down but then he is more aggressive when I let him out. I do not think he is doing it in a mean way but he does break the skin and it hurts. Help!

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the pictures of Herbie and the question. You may need to consult a behaviorist because this seems rather impulsive. There are many trainers online who offer skype sessions which would work best because they can "meet Herbie" and speak directly with you to assess him. Has he always done this? If it is a new behavior I would take Herbie to the vet to rule out a medical issue that could be potentially causing the problem (teeth problems, an illness, an unknown injury). I strongly suggest a trainer work with Herbie, and you can take a look here as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-be-aggressive. Lastly, make sure that Herbie gets lots of exercise outside every day in the form of walks in the fresh air. Playtime at the dog park to socialize him would be great as well. Good luck!

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Question
Dexter and Bugsy
Boston Terrier
8 Weeks
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Question
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Dexter and Bugsy
Boston Terrier
8 Weeks

I just got 2 Male puppies from the same litter. They are bweeks old. Bugsey seems to play pretty I just got 2 Male puppies from the same litter. Bugsey seems to play pretty aggressively with Dexter and doesnt seem to stop even when dexter whines. Is this normal and how should I stop the behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sean, Both pups need to learn good canine social skills - which includes give and take with play and taking breaks when another pup needs it. Some puppies are good at teaching each other and some are very different (timid vs. tends to bully) and it's harder for those pups to learn when they are the only teachers for each other. Moderate their play to help them learn - making them take breaks when one pup seems too rough or the other overwhelmed. Let the more timid pup go first and see if they go back to playing - if so you can let the rougher pup go to play more also. If not, use an exercise pen or crate to let the pups have some downtime from each other. The biggest thing I would actually recommend is to enroll both pups in a puppy play class or puppy kindergarten class that has time for moderated off-leash play with other puppies. Playing with a variety of puppies in a controlled environment should help both pups learn good social skills (confidence for one and more gentleness for the other). Check out the article linked below for more info on the benefits of such a class, what to look for (no class is probably perfect but it will help you get started with finding one), and measures to take to keep younger puppies safer in public. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hugo
Boston Terrier
2 Years
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Question
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Hugo
Boston Terrier
2 Years

Bites every person who comes to our house

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mrs. Ferguson, Check out this video by Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression. Here he demonstrated safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A It sounds like he needs a lot of structure and boundaries in general to build respect. Have him work for everything he gets for a while by having him perform a command first. For example, have him sit before you feed him, lay down before you pet him, look at you before you take him outside, ect.. If he nudges you, climbs into your lap uninvited, begs, or does anything else pushy, make him leave the room. Teach him a Place command and work on him staying on place for up to an hour, even when you walk into the other room for a minute. Practice crate manners. Work on teaching a structured Heel. Forget about getting places during a walk for a while right now, instead go somewhere open, like your front yard, a park, or culdesac and practice a heel where his nose does not go past your leg. If you need to hire a trainer to help you with the aggression, look for someone who uses a lot of boundaries, positive reinforcement and fair discipline tactfully. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression - many trainers are only experienced with fear based aggression and you could have some other types of aggression happening also, so ask the potential trainer about their experience with aggression. Small dogs can have any of the types of aggression that larger dogs can have - they do not view themselves as any different than larger breeds. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 There might be additional things that need to be addressed, but without specific details about his temperament, history, and the nature of the bites I can't include additional advice. It might be worth hiring a trainer who specializes in aggression to help you also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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