How to Get Puppies to Stop Biting

It's natural for a young puppy to bite your hand playfully. Here are some things you can do to stop this behavior:

  • Offer your puppy a toy to chew on instead of your hand. Praise him when he chews on the toy. He'll soon prefer the activity that's rewarded [source:].
  • Distract your puppy with acceptable activities, such as playing fetch. Discourage aggressive games, like tug-of-war and wrestling.
  • Don't give your puppy any attention when he bites. All attention (even negative attention) is positive reinforcement. Rather than talking to your puppy or reacting to him, simply walk away and ignore him for five minutes. This will discourage any behavior you don't want repeated.
  • Offer positive reinforcement, like pats and praise, when your puppy plays nicely.
  • Sometimes it's necessary to provide negative reinforcement when your puppy bites. For example, you might put vinegar on your skin so that biting you will be unpleasant [source: American Animal Hospital Association].

Dogs are related to coyotes and wolves, and aren't naturally domesticated [source:]. That's why dogs sometimes bite aggressively. If your puppy is biting aggressively rather than playfully, keep these things in mind:

  • Dogs tend to bite when in an unfamiliar environment, so familiarize your puppy with the people, animals and things around him.
  • Try to avoid situations your puppy may find stressful, such as hunger, pain, separation and being confined.
  • Provide lots of love and attention to help your puppy feel secure.

The key to changing your puppy's behavior is consistency, so make sure everyone who interacts with him is on the same page and cooperates with the methods you've chosen [source: American Animal Hospital Association].