What to do if your puppy is biting or chewing

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Biting and chewing are both normal behaviour for a puppy. But if your puppy is biting or chewing things they shouldn’t, we’ve got tips and advice on how to nip any unwanted nipping in the bud.

Why is my puppy biting?

Don’t worry if your puppy is biting when you first bring them home. Biting plays a key role in how your puppy explores the world around them, and how they interact with their siblings. For your puppy, biting and rough play with fellow pups is an important and fun part of their social development. But learning when to inhibit their bite around other dogs – and people – is just as important.

How do I stop my puppy biting?

It’s essential that your puppy learns not to bite people. A bit of nibbling during play is common, but if your puppy is biting hard, state a very abrupt “no” and withdraw yourself from interacting with them. This should soon stop your puppy biting people under any circumstance.

Puppies also need lots of time with other dogs of all ages and sizes to learn when not to bite and play rough. There is a limited time in your puppy’s development, known as the socialisation window, where they need to get used to the people, dogs and places around them. After this window closes at around 16-18 weeks, it’ll be much more difficult for your puppy to learn important doggy social skills and to stop biting other dogs.

Related blog – How to socialise a new puppy

Why is my puppy chewing?

For a puppy, chewing serves many developmental needs – it supports play, exploration and teething. Chewing is known as an ‘occupier activity’, keeping your puppy busy while also aiding their mental development. But unwanted chewing is also common, as they don’t know what is or isn’t appropriate to chew on.

How do I stop my puppy chewing things?

It’s usually easy enough to teach your puppy to stop chewing things they shouldn’t, and if you deal with it early enough they won’t chew as an adult (although some puppies unfortunately never really grow out of it!). Key to stopping your puppy chewing your home and possessions is take away the things they might want to chew on – and, crucially, give them something more exciting to get their teeth into instead.

Having a selection of chew toys should stop your puppy chewing anything else. Give these to your puppy on a rotating basis to keep the novelty value of each toy fresh, and mix things up a bit with different types of toy. Try flavoured and squeaky ones for immediate gratification, and puzzle-based ones to make them work for their reward. These can aid your puppy’s mental development – and help tire them out, too.

We also recommend you puppy-proof your home by putting things they shouldn’t chew out of reach. Get down on the floor at puppy level and try to see what might be considered chewable – electrical cables, clothing, footwear, furniture, even houseplants – and make sure all temptation is removed.

If your puppy is chewing because they’re teething, you should keep one or two of their toys in the fridge or freezer. Chewing on a cold toy will help ease the pain and inflammation chewing causes – and ease their mood.

What do I do if my puppy is chewing wood?

Chewing wood around the home is very common in puppies, with table and chair legs taking the lion’s share of the damage. Chewing on skirting boards or doors is also quite common if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety because it’s perceived as a way to escape. It’s especially important to stop your puppy chewing wood because it can break and splinter, and cause your puppy harm. But as long as they have plenty of chew toys, your wood and your puppy should both be safe. You can also buy pet-safe, bitter-tasting sprays to stop your puppy chewing furniture or other items you want to protect. This is another good way to teach your puppy what isn’t great to chew.

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