Puppies usually start to play with each other at about 2 ½ weeks old. Initially they are crawling on each other and biting; as their mobility increases the wrestling and biting increasing. As they get older they will begin barking at each other to initiate play, sometimes even baring their teeth. Once toys are introduced, stealing or grabbing of toys and getting everyone to chase you is the new game. But that game usually ends in a tackle with biting and fighting over toys. This is how dogs play!
Teething is more likely to involve chewing on household items whereas play biting is a form of social play. If he is teething, have toys that you can place in your freezer that your puppy can chew on and soothe his gums. Buy bully sticks or another hard bone that your puppy can chew and relieve the pain of his gums.
When your puppy is biting you, he is biting because he considers you ‘another puppy’ not an Alpha or leader. If you are providing your dog with enough play, attention and exercise, this behavior should be a rare occurrence.
How To play and teach your puppy to play
I am a strong believer in the fact that puppies need to play tug of war. If your dog is aggressive he is going to be aggressive, playing tug of war does not make a dog aggressive. That is like saying every child that plays with a toy gun is going to be a murderer when he grows up. If your puppy is not pulling on an object, they are going to bite you. Purchase rope toys or use an old beach towel with knots in it for the puppy to tug on. Small children can actually run with the beach towel dragging behind, the puppy will latch on to the beach towel and leave your child’s clothing alone.
“But he looks so cute”
You may want to crawl up on the floor and cuddle but that is not what your puppy wants. When you are on the ground, you are at his level and are ‘dog’. Just because you want to cuddle, doesn’t mean that is what your puppy needs. He is telling you he needs to be stimulated and exercised.
What else can I do?
Other techniques involving discipline like holding the mouth closed, pressure on the tongue and more, sometimes elicit pain, which can cause the puppy to become more excited or anxious and increase the mouthing. If this is a continual problem for your dog you need to be prepared and play with a training collar and leash attached. Correct the puppy with a firm correction and a “No” reprimand. Once the puppy is corrected, cease playing with him until he calms down; this may actually mean that you crate him or leave the room so he can’t bite you (don’t leave your puppy unsupervised in a room).
I believe that your puppy should wear the collar and leash in the house at all times when you can supervise him; this way if he gets into trouble you are prepared to correct.
No one in the house should be wrestling with the dog. This will teach the dog that it is acceptable to jump all over humans and bite them. This is never acceptable.
Stay one step ahead
All Puppies have a witching hour; this may be after waking up or eating or when your puppy is over tired. If the mouthing is due to waking up and being full of energy, schedule your walks around that time. Long walks to tire the puppy out; and not stopping and sniffing, you want to keep the puppy moving at a constant pace. Yes, he may not have all of his shots, keep him on the sidewalk or road and keep him away from other dog’s feces. He has enough immunity from his mother’s milk that this is ok to do. You can play fetch and tug of war but keep the puppy on the leash so he can’t run from you or redirect to your pants or body parts.
Some puppies bite more when they are overtired. That is a perfect time for a nap! Place your puppy in his crate and let him sleep it off. Yes, he may bark and cry initially but he will eventually fall asleep.
If you don’t like a behavior, think about your puppy like a puppy not a dog or a human. Stay one step ahead of misbehavior and make sure you are walking your puppy a lot. A tired puppy is a good puppy. The best way to stop the mouthing is to never place your dog in a position where he can mouth.