How to Train a Puppy to Stop Biting Other Dogs

Easy
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Training your puppy when you bring him home with you is generally the number one task on any new dog owner’s list. From obedience to house training to preventing separation anxiety, there are tons of issues to tackle during his journey through puppyhood, and managing them all at once is not always easy. There are bound to be things here and there that fall through the cracks,

One of the issues that puppy owners come across often is the painful nipping that comes along with some rough play. Puppies have sharp little teeth that can cause some discomfort for other dogs if they’re uncertain of their own strength. Socialization with other dogs is important for puppies to develop good manners, but dealing with a nippy puppy can be a chore all on its own for both the owner and the other dogs in the area.

Defining Tasks

Biting and nipping is natural puppy behavior and it is common for a puppy to not have manners when it comes to interacting with other dogs. Puppies learn manners from their mother and littermates and sometimes, the provided role models are not quite what we’d hope. Puppies can also pick up bad habits from their environment, whether it was accidentally reinforced or not. Despite this, your puppy should learn the appropriate behavior as soon as possible, starting from when you first bring him home, and should be reinforced for at least three to six weeks in order to assure that the better, more appropriate habit is established.

Positive reinforcement for the appropriate behavior and interrupting bad manners are both tools to utilize during this training, as it can keep a small problem from developing into a much larger one later on.

Getting Started

Before your training begins, make sure your puppy is fully vaccinated. Puppies shouldn’t interact with other dogs outside of their litter until they’ve received all of their vaccinations in order for them to stay happy and healthy.

Once that is done, invest in a few chew toys and other items that are good and healthy for your puppy’s teeth. Treats and snacks that are made to be a little tough and chewy are ideal, but remember not to get anything too hard, or this could damage the teeth! Use these items often for downtime, play time, and rewards.

The Socialization Method

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Step
1
Wait to bring your puppy home
Ideally, your puppy should be kept with his mother and littermates until at least eight weeks of age. This is where he will develop some of his bite inhibition and manners.
Step
2
Start socialization as early as possible
Once your puppy is home and vaccinated, begin exposing him to plenty of other dogs and people.
Step
3
Use good role models
Focus on meetings with dogs that are calm and well behaved, as they can help teach your pup good manners and how to properly use his teeth without causing harm.
Step
4
Have continuous play dates
Have play dates as often as possible! The more exposure your puppy gets to other dogs, the better.
Step
5
Avoid dog parks early on
Dog parks are notorious for being free-for-alls where both good and bad influences are likely to mix. Avoid bringing your puppy to a dog park where you aren’t sure of the sorts of confrontations he may come across. Biting at a cranky park visitor can result in some extremely dangerous circumstances.
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The Bite Inhibition Method

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Step
1
Watch for inappropriate behavior
Keep an eye on your puppy as she plays and interacts with other dogs. Supervise each and every time to prevent any incidents from happening without you knowing.
Step
2
Stop play when necessary
If she begins to bite and nip excessively or inappropriately, put a stop to play time as soon as you see the behavior.
Step
3
Separate
Take your pup and place her in a separate area, away from the other dog for a few moments. This will help teach her that as soon as she starts biting, playtime is over.
Step
4
Reintroduce when possible
Once she has calmed down some, bring your puppy back to the play area to continue to interact.
Step
5
Repeat often to offset bad behavior
Continue to separate your puppy whenever she exhibits bad manners with her teeth. Eventually, she will realize that not using her mouth will get her what she wants: continuing to play and interact with the other dog.
Recommend training method?

The Redirection Method

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Step
1
Offer plenty of alternatives
Set out plenty of toys and other things for your puppy use his teeth on other than the other dog.
Step
2
Rotate options out
Take out and put new toys into the area often so your puppy always has something exciting to explore.
Step
3
Reward for appropriate use
Toss in some treats on occasion when you notice your pup behaving appropriately.
Step
4
Prevent instead of interrupt
Keep hands and fingers away from your puppy’s mouth and teeth to discourage biting. This can translate over to his behavior with other dogs and he may be less likely to use his teeth.
Step
5
Use ‘leave it’ to your advantage
Use obedience training to teach your pup to ‘leave it’ when you don’t want him to bite something or someone. Reward him for focusing his attention on you instead of the thing he wants to bite.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Maple
Labrador Retriever
4 Months
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Question
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Maple
Labrador Retriever
4 Months

Hi, we just adopted a month old stray. She acts younger then what she is. However, whenever she’s playing with our other dog bear (7 years old) she constantly tries to bite his legs. She doesn’t respond to growling or anything he does to get him to stop. We have tried separating them and she automatically goes back to do it again. Is there anything else we can do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, I recommend teaching her Out (which means leave the area), Leave It, and Place. I would also crate train if you haven't already, so your older dog can be given a break as needed, and because sometimes when puppies get overly mouthy and wound up they are actually over-tired and need some down time to wind down doing something like chewing a kibble stuffed Kong in a crate for a while. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Surprise method for crate training - she is older so there will likely be a lot of crying the crate at first if you didn't introduce it already. Stay strong. Typically pups will adjust in about 2 weeks if you can be consistent with training and not give in when you know pup doesn't really need to go potty. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate I would keep a drag leash on pup as well. Tether her to yourself with a hands free leash when she isn't crated and your older dog wants to be left alone. With pup tethered to you, you can use part of her daily kibble rations as treats instead of fed in a bowl, to reward her obeying things like Leave It, lying down calmly on her own, being Quiet instead of whining, and chewing her own toys. The rule should generally be that pup give the older dog space unless the older dog initiates the play first. When they do play, have pup wearing that drag leash and periodically have two people call the dogs apart (dragging the end of pup's drag leash if she doesn't come, and excitedly getting her to chase you back to where you called her from, like its a game). Once they are apart, have each dog obey a few simple commands, then let the older dog go first to see if he wants to play more and re-engages her. If he does and they were okay, tell her "Go Play!" and let her go play. If he seems done, then distract her with something new to do. Keep their play moderated, on his terms, and teach her to give him space when he wants to be left alone. This will take time and a lot of supervision on your part. This comes with practice. I also recommend enrolling her in a puppy kindergarten class that has some older puppies between her age and 6 or so months, and gives time for moderated off leash play, so the puppies can practice social skills and bite inhibition with each other. You can have these times with friends' with puppies, or some places like Petco will have free puppy play groups too. As long as she isn't truly aggressive, just moderate the play, choose older puppies who can hold their own with her, and give her breaks when she is getting too aroused and not listening to the other dogs. Doggie social skills and bite inhibition is something typically learned from playing with other puppies before 6 months of age. Older dogs play differently, so the type of feedback a puppy will get from other puppies is different and can be helpful. Things like other puppies who stop playing with her if she bit too hard and didn't stop when they yelped. That natural consequence of the puppy not playing can be a good learning tool for another puppy, not to mention practicing things like taking turns being in the dominant vs. submissive role, how to bite another puppy softly so they will still keep playing with you, what a play bow is, and how to take natural breaks during play when tired - and respect others need for a break too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Toby
Shorkie
6 Months
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Toby
Shorkie
6 Months

Aggressive towards other dogs, he will not stop barking at people

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kim, Often this type of behavior at this age is a combination of pup being possessive of you - which is similar to a dog resource guarding, but instead of a bone they are trying to keep others away from you, and a lack of socialization and thus suspicion and fear about new people and dogs. I would work on building pup's respect and trust for you in the following ways. Follow the Working and Consistency methods https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Commands that are good for respect building - Out, Leave It and Off are especially important for giving pup directions right now. Place, Down and Heel are especially good for respect building. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ First, I will say working with a training group that has several trainers so that people who are experienced with fear can practice being "strangers" during the session will help the training go a lot faster than doing this on your own, so that might be worth considering. I would start by desensitizing him to wearing a basket muzzle, especially if there is any aggression toward people along with the barking. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Practice walking pup past wiling friends and family you have recruited who are strangers to pup, using the concepts of the passing approach method from the article linked below - this method is related to dogs, but the concepts of passing someone over and over again while working on obedience and rewarding good responses of calmness, tolerance, and focus on you, rather than fear responses can be used to address the dog and people responses. Gradually decreasing the distance between him and the people who are helping you as he improves - the important part is to look for not only a lack of fear aggressive response but specifically for times when pup is actually in a calmer mindset and reward that. Passing Approach method: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs As pup improves and can handle being close to people, then people can practice being in closer quarters (with safety measures like the muzzle or leash tethered securely to something as needed to avoid a fear bite), and tossing treats to pup when he is responding calmly around them. Have the people toss treats while acknowledging him very little when he does well. When pup can handle being around people in general in a variety of situations, then have people give him commands and let him work for the treat rewards to further build trust. Finally, have them go on walks with you, where you can hand off the leash to the other person and pup will follow them also, so that pup is working with and following more people in a calm, respect and trust, based relationship. With other dogs, you can also use the passing approach but I wouldn't do up close interactions without a trainer to oversee present. For that part, I would work closely with a training group and their well trained dogs, or join a G.R.O.W.L. class, which is a class specifically for dog reactive and dog aggressive dogs, to work on their aggression and reactivity while muzzled, in a structured environment under the trainer's leadership. I can be hard to do all of this at the pace need, with the right body language and speed pup needs to keep everyone safe and improve, so this is often much easier when working with a great training group who has a staff of trainers and access to well trained dogs for pup to get used to lots of people and other dogs, not just the one trainer or other dog. Always take safety measures like back-ties, going at a safe training pace, reading body language, and using a basket muzzle if needed, to keep everyone involved in training and interactions safe. The younger pup is, the better the outcome is likely to be, so I would definitely prioritize the training right now, while pup is still at a good age for seeing a lot of improvement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Boris
Unknown
9 Years
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Question
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Boris
Unknown
9 Years

We got some new puppies (we've had them for a year now) and he gets so jealous that we can't touch the puppies with him being there. He starts growing and snapping at the other dogs. He hasn't bitten any of them until they bled but he has accidentally bitten a person when he tried to nip at the dogs.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anneke, For this training need I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression, to come to your home and work with you in person. Look for someone who comes well recommended by their previous clients for dealing with aggression between dogs. This process will likely involve a combination of building Boris' trust and respect for you so that pup is less possessive of you, working on obedience commands that help with management, like Place, Leave It, Quiet, Out, Stay, and crate training, and counter conditioning pup to the presence of the puppies by rewarding Boris whenever they first enter the room or Boris is being calm or tolerant around them (without the puppies seeing you do so, so they don't rush over for a treat and start a food fight). Having all the dogs learn Place, and spend time staying on their Place beds in the same room can be a good way to start introductions. You may need to tether Boris to something secure with a leash that's long enough to have slack in it, so he only feels it tug if he tries to get off Place, so ensure he can't get to one of the puppies before you can intervene. Having the dogs practice heeling together with space between them, similar to the Walking Together method from the article I have linked below, could also be good for their relationship. In your case the goal wouldn't be getting a nose to nose greeting eventually, but just being able to walk them down the same sidewalk frequently with everyone calm. You will need other people to help you with this training though at first, since you want to keep a lot of space between the dogs initially. Walking Together article: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jack
Yorkie Pomeranian
10 Weeks
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Question
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Jack
Yorkie Pomeranian
10 Weeks

Bites too hard people and our other dog

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mark, Check out the Bite Inhibition method and the Leave It method from the article I have linked below. I would practice both of those. The bite inhibition method can be started now while you work on teaching pup how to Leave It. Also, check out the Out command from the article I have linked below. Once you have taught pup out by following the section on how to teach Out, then you can use the section on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness to enforce pup leaving your older dog alone too. Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tyler
American Bulldog
13 Weeks
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Question
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Tyler
American Bulldog
13 Weeks

We have a pomapoo that stays with us 2-3 days a week. Every time she comes she will go see Tyler and run around but Tyler will stalk her and pounce and start nipping her and grabbing her tail and sometimes it hurts the pomapoo, the pomapoo has turned round and told Tyler of but she will just keep going back and doing it again. I have said No, tried playing with her taken her away, but still goes back for more.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Toni, How old is the Pomapoo? If the Pomapoo is an adult, I would actually look for a puppy class that has time for moderated off-leash play with a variety of puppy breeds or different sizes, to help the puppy learn better social skills - skills which are best learned by playing with lots of other puppies in a controlled environment, where owners and the trainer moderates the play so no pup gets too overwhelmed. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Next, I would work on teaching commands to help the puppy learn to give space and be more gentle, including Leave It, Out, and Place - for when pup needs to disengage completely. When pup is so excited they aren't responding to you and can't seem to calm back down on their own, I would use an exercise pen or crate with a dog food stuffed chew toy for pup to have some down time and give the other dog a break, or tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area. Teach pup Out using the section on How to Teach Out. Once pup has learned what Out means, then also use the section on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce pup giving the other dog space when pup isn't giving it when the puppy indicates they need it, or things are getting too rough. Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Surprise method for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

The pomapoo has just turned a year today

The pomapoo has just turned a year today

Tyler has been in contact with other dogs and puppies and doesn’t do what she does to the pomapoo didn’t know if it had anything to do with both being girl dogs

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