I feel for you – those pup teeth are like little needles. Ouch! It is a really good sign, however, that your pup is play -biting. It is a sign that he is starting to bond with you and wants to play! As such you should never tell him off for play biting. If you tell him off, he will only find other things more exciting when you take get to take him to the park – such as children, a skateboarder, a buggy etc. However, play biting does hurt and so here are a few tactics for helping it to be directed elsewhere and also for it to reduce. Be aware that play biting tends to be at its worst before a pup is allowed out – making sure that your pup has plenty of small play sessions throughout the day so he is sufficiently mentally stimulated. These can be both crazy revved up games, plus calmer games such as find it or sniffing for food. He also needs around 1 hour of exercise split up into three or 4 short walks. Other things to think about include is he getting enough good quality food? Enough companion ship from you? Or are his teeth hurting? In which case, ice cubes are great.
Once you have dealt with the above issues, whenever your pup starts getting excited, get hold of a large toy for him to play with (rather than your hands). If you can’t do this, or you have already given your dog lots of play in the last 30 minutes. You can “make like a tree” – stand very still and tuck all your limbs in until he gives up because you are “boring”. Don’t look at your dog and don’t say anything. It used to be that trainers recommended saying “ow!” but now this is not recommended as usually it is just seen from the puppy as punishment for it to work (and punishment is a very bad idea for a puppy of this age), or simply doesn’t’ work! If the play biting continues, you may need to walk out of the room for a few minutes. Return to join in a calmer game (with a large toy), when your puppy has calmed down. Good Luck.
Penaran Higgs BSc Psychology, PgDip CABC (Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling)