If your constant refrain is "my puppy keeps biting me and my clothes," know that you're not alone. As the owner of a young dog, dealing with nips and bites is par for the course, but a puppy biting clothes isn't something you have to live with for long. Once you've learned the reasons for a pup's tendency to bite, you can then work to keep him off your shirts and pants. You'll be teaching him proper behavior around people and saving your sweaters at the same time.
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Why puppies bite
Young, playful dogs use their whole body to explore and learn, which means your new pup will smell every inch of the kitchen floor, bat dust bunnies with her sweet paws, and use her mouth to gum, gnaw, nip, and even bite. Since your young dog's mouth is filled with more than two dozen tiny, sharp teeth, getting caught between them in your pet's mouth can actually be quite painful. Teething is one possibility when it comes to a puppy biting clothes and not letting go, but more often, this behavior is a type of social play.
While this mouthing and nipping may seem cute at first and even harmless in some cases, the concern with a puppy biting clothes and growling is that she could be doing it because she's afraid or frustrated by a certain situation. This behavior could possibly indicate that your pet is showing future signs of aggression.
How to curb biting
Indeed, a puppy biting clothes while walking is annoying, but there are several smart ways you can nix this habit. Consistency is key, as is patience and enough time, so consider the following ideas:
- Wait to adopt: Taking on a dog who's too young means he won't have had a chance to learn proper etiquette from his litter mates and his mother. By waiting until about 7 weeks of age, your pup will glean important social cues, such as "no play biting."
- Provide lots of toys: The right thing to bite is a rope toy or squirrel squeaker, not the sleeve of your delicate cashmere top. Make sure there are plenty of appropriate playthings available.
- Be consistent: If you let your dog nip the kids but you won't allow him to nip you, your canine will be confused. Tell your family and friends that the dog isn't supposed to bite — period.
- Play often: Try to initiate playtime regularly and often rather than waiting for your puppy to bring you a toy or start biting your clothes.
- Don't tease: Wiggling fingers or waving your hands in the dog's face could serve to excite him and cause biting. Your best bet is to refrain from taunting in this manner.
Puppy biting clothes
A puppy biting clothes while walking can put a damper on your play session or your daily walks. To get your pet to cease this behavior, you might try wearing pants that fit snugly, like leggings rather than wide-legged trousers. The same goes for when you're playing with your dog; skip long, flowing blouses in favor of tighter T-shirts or short-sleeved tops. This way, when you dangle a toy, she might go for the plaything and not your clothing. However, if the clothes-biting still happens (and it occasionally will), direct her behavior elsewhere and then follow up the correct action with a treat.
When all else fails, simply remove your pup from the scene and give her a rest in her crate. Whatever you do, don't yell, strike, or otherwise punish your puppy for this normal developmental behavior. The best training route is positive reinforcement with treats and lavish praise.