Are your puppy’s needle teeth turning you into a pincushion? Mouthing is typical puppy behavior. They do it a lot when they’re playing … it’s how they play with each other. The thing is, a fur coat can take those needles much better than we can!
One of the most valuable lessons you can teach your dog is bite inhibition — that human skin is very fragile.
That said, how do you teach it? As with any lesson you are teaching a young puppy, patience, persistence and consistency are key. When the pup starts to mouth, if it bites down hard you yelp “OUCH!” like you’ve been severely wounded. Don’t yell it like you’re mad (and you will be, because it hurts!). Instead, act like you are hurt. Then immediately turn your back for a few seconds and ignore the pup. Turn back and find the nearest appropriate chew toy, give that to your pup, and praise heavily when he chews on that instead of you.
Puppies don’t want to hurt their playmates. They just don’t realize the strength of their teeth. When Puppy Brother wrestles with Puppy Sister and bites down too hard, she yelps and ends the game. That’s no fun! When your pup chews on you too hard and you yelp and turn away, his favorite playmate ends the game! He will learn that biting down is a sure way to put the brakes on his good time. Remember, puppies have no attention spans! You will likely have to repeat this many times before Fido gets the picture. This is normal.
Grabbing your pup’s mouth shut, jamming your finger down his throat, rapping his nose … all these things can make the behavior worse. He’ll either think you’re roughhousing with him — which will make him play harder! — or he’ll grow afraid of your hands, which you certainly don’t want!
You can teach your pup great bite inhibition. It’s a lesson that will help make a safer future for you, Fido and your family.