How to Train a Havanese Puppy to Not Bite

Medium
2-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Puppies are adorable, and arguably a Havanese puppy more than most. With that delightful soft curly fur and black button nose, the Havanese pup could easily be mistaken for a teddy bear. However, if you've been on the receiving end of a nip from the pup, it doesn't matter how sweet he looks, the bite still hurts. 

Now is a step-through moment to nip (pardon the pun) this bad behavior in the bud before it becomes established. It's probable that you get advice from friends and family, some telling you to smack the pup, others saying it's not fair to do so. 

Once, out of desperation, you shouted at the pup, but he seemed so cowed afterward you didn't like to do it again. But what is the right way? How should you teach that adorable teddy-bear pup not to bite? 

Defining Tasks

Havanese are a mild and gentle breed that make for a great family pet. But just like any breed, he does need to learn good manners, and this includes not nipping. Even more than this, it's important to teach him a general rule that biting as a whole is not acceptable. This means teaching the pup some self-control so that he doesn't become over-excited, which is the most common reason for biting or nipping in puppies.

Getting Started

You need minimal equipment to teach a Havanese, or any puppy, not to bite. Most important is knowledge and understanding how a puppy's mind works and how you can get the message across. 

It is helpful to have the following equipment: 

  • Toys, such as tuggers or balls, so that you can play without your hands being near the dog's mouth
  • Treats to reward the pup when he does well
  • A place you can withdraw to when the puppy gets over excited and won't calm down
  • A watch or means of timing 15 seconds. 

The Self-Control Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Are you mad? Teach a dog self-control!
Most pups bite not because they are aggressive but because they get over-excited. By regularly interrupting play in order that the puppy calms down, you can avoid over-excitement and reduce biting behaviors.
Step
2
Understand the plan
The idea is to play in short bursts of around 15 seconds, then stop and wait for the pup to calm down. The game resumes once he is calm, hence rewarding the better behavior. Because play stops before he gets overexcited and starts nipping, this makes this behavior less likely.
Step
3
Time 15 seconds of play
Start a game with a tug toy or an object that doesn't involve the dog having direct contact with your hand. Engage him in a game, but keep an eye on your watch and stop after 15 seconds. Put the toy down and wait for the dog to grow calm.
Step
4
Praise the dog's calmness
Once he grows quiet, praise him and tell him how clever he is. This helps him understand that calm is good.
Step
5
Restart the game
Now restart the game as a reward for being calm. Keep repeating in this cycle, so the pup has short periods of play interspersed with timeout periods.
Step
6
Adding a cue word
As the pup gets better at controlling excitement, put this action on cue by using a command. When you stop play say "Calm" as he grows quiet, then praise him. You can also gradually extend the length of the bursts of play, by adding on 5 seconds, being sure not to overtax the pup and have him play for so long he gets over excited.
Recommend training method?

The Do's and Don'ts Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Don't: Smack or punish the puppy
This may seem to work, but what's happening is the pup becomes fearful of you which inhibits the biting. However, he doesn't learn the more general rule that biting anyone is unacceptable. Indeed, he may even hide feelings of aggression or frustration and bite unexpectedly as a result of being fearful of your reaction.
Step
2
Don't: Use your hands as toys
Young puppies investigate everything with their mouths. Thus, it's unfair to expect a pup not to bite your hand if you offer it out as a toy. Don't tease him with your fingers or prod and poke the puppy into reacting.
Step
3
Do: Use toys
Chose toys that put some distance between you and the puppy's teeth, such as tuggers, balls, or cuddly toys. Use these in games so the dog doesn't learn to grip your skin.
Step
4
Don't be bashful
It's important to squeal and cry loudly, and then play act that you are hurt when the puppy nips. You may feel strange doing this, so explain to the family what's going on and why, so that you don't feel inhibited about communicating with the pup in this way he understands.
Step
5
Do: Seek professional help
If you are struggling with a bity puppy then call for professional help sooner rather than later. Young puppies are receptive to learning and so now is the time to correct that bad behavior. Speak to a certified animal behaviorist or a dog trainer who uses reward-based methods.
Recommend training method?

The Bite Inhibition Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
What is bite inhibition?
Puppies learn a lot about what's OK and what isn't through play with their littermates. Biting is a perfect example. During a game when a puppy nips another, that other pup is likely to squeal and object. He may even stop the game. Thus the first puppy learns to nip more gently (or not at all) so that the game doesn't stop.
Step
2
Why teach bite inhibition?
Bite inhibition is a form of self-control. Thus the dog learns to control their biting behavior and stop it. This is different to smacking a dog to make him stop biting. With the latter the dog stops himself biting out of fear of that one person. Although the difference is a subtle one, it matters. A dog that has learned self-control will not bite when his paw is trodden on. However, if someone other than the owner steps on the paw of the smacked dog, the dog is still likely to bite because he hasn't generalized his learning.
Step
3
Take a lesson from the littermates
To teach bite inhibition think about how the pup's littermates react. They squeal or cry when bitten, and withdraw from the game. This gives the pup a verbal signal that the bite hurt, plus the fun stops, which is a form of punishment.
Step
4
Put theory into practice
In practical terms, this means yelping or crying out when the pup mouths your skin. Let your hand go limp and then make whimpering noises. Most importantly, end the game he was playing. Do this every time and the pup will understand that humans are really delicate and for the game to continue he has to be really careful not to mouth their skin.
Step
5
Walk away as needed
If the puppy is so overexcited that even yelping doesn't get through to him, then be prepared to get up and leave the room. This is the ultimate withdrawing of attention. Only return and resume the game once the pup is calm.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Oreo
Havanese
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oreo
Havanese
3 Months

Wants to bite feet and hands

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

Hello! Here is some information on 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
Charlie
Havanese
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Charlie
Havanese
8 Weeks

Hi my puppy bites a lot and it’s annoying. What should I do to make him stop. The same thing with barking he barks at everything.

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

Hi there! I will address both concerns. So this will be a long response. I will do my best to keep it organized! 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. Now onto barking. Puppy barking serves many purposes. Puppies bark when they play, to greet you (or another animal), or defend against scary or intimidating interlopers. Consider your puppy’s bark as a doggy alarm: it serves as a warning about anything unusual, interesting, or exciting, like a friend or stranger’s arrival, a sudden sound, or an unexpected sight. Rather than trying to fully eliminate the barks, figure out why the pup barks and teach him the difference between appropriate barks and problem barks. How to Stop Your Puppy From Barking Once you've determined why your puppy is barking, you can start to train it appropriately to stop your dog from barking. Bear in mind that some puppy mental development is similar to a young child's, so many of the same reinforcement rules apply as you teach your puppy appropriate behavior. Provide consistent rules and responses. If your response to excited barking is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, your dog will get confused. Stick with the same response to the same behavior, and make sure other family members do the same. Be sure there are no physical or psychological issues causing the behavior. If your puppy is frightened, in pain, or feeling ill, it may well whine or bark. Be sure you've taken care of any environmental or health issues that could stand between your puppy and good behavior. Use appropriate techniques to train your puppy. Remember that your puppy is just a baby, and it only knows what you teach it. Avoid harsh discipline; praise and kindness and other types of positive reinforcement can help your puppy grow up to be a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog. Don't let your emotions get in the way of training. If your puppy whines when it's left alone, you may feel you need to comfort it. When you do that, you are rewarding the behavior and therefore teaching the puppy that whining or barking is the best way to get attention. Don’t bark back. When speaking with your puppy, the tone of voice and body language are just as important as the words you use. For some dogs, barking is a joyful expression. Use a calm voice when addressing your dog. Yelling can make it think you’re joining the chorus and bark even louder. Remove the audience. If your dog barks and you come running every time, you reward the behavior. Instead, the instance your pup stops barking, praise it and offer a treat. If it keeps barking, turn your back and leave the room. Most dogs want company, so leaving tells your dog it is doing something wrong. Your dog will learn to be quiet if it wants you to stay. Address situations that occur regularly. Barking at the mailman teaches pups to repeat the behavior over and over again. You may want to enlist your mail carrier’s help to eliminate the barking. Ask the postal carrier to feed your pup a treat once it is quiet and praise your pet for being silent. Provide door drills. Ringing the bell, knocking on the door, and arrivals or departures can excite or scare shy pups. Create an association between the door and door sounds with good things for the puppy. Stage arrivals at the front door with an accomplice “visitor” loaded up with treats to toss. This helps it to stop seeing visitors as threats. This is a form of desensitization training. Relieve the boredom. Many pups bark because they’re lonely or bored. Even if the dog has nothing to bark about, the barking may be better than silence. Chew toys that reward the puppy’s attention with tasty treats also fill up the mouth—it can’t bark and chew at the same time. Puzzles and toys like the Kong Wobbler can be stuffed with peanut butter or kibble treats and must be manipulated to reach the edible prize. Block scary sounds. Inexperienced dogs hear lots of “new” sounds that may inspire barking. When barking arises from fear, the pheromone product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. may help relieve the angst. White noise machines are available to mask sounds, or simply turn the radio to a normal volume and tune it to static. Your puppy is still young and exploring the world and the reactions he receives from his behaviors. This will take some time. But it will get better!

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Question
Twix
Havanese and shih tzu
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Twix
Havanese and shih tzu
2 Months

He always bites my sweatpants and fingers and just has a biting problem and he also gets mad and growls and aggressive and barks at me for no reason

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

Hello! Here is some information on 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
happy
Havanese
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
happy
Havanese
9 Weeks

Hello, i have a 9 weeks havanese called happy, the issue is whenever i tried to handle him, pat him or play with him he nips my hands, sometimes bite my pants when i'm walking him, or feast on my shoes it looks like his only joy is biting, i have a 2 years old kid the pup is always biting, we can't have a play session without being worry about happy biting our kid, thanks in advance for your help

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

Hello! Here is information on 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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