Puppies naturally mouth, nip and bite nearly everything they come into contact with. This behavior helps with teething, and for older puppies is a part of exploring their world. Play biting is not an aggressive behavior, but is still obnoxious and can be painful.
Socialize your dog with other well-behaved dogs and puppies. Puppies learn bite inhibition from their siblings, and other dogs can help your dog learn bite inhibition if she hasn't yet mastered the skill. The other dog may yelp or stop playing when your dog bites, and this is a highly effective way to teach your puppy not to bite.
Redirect your dog's biting to an appropriate toy. When your dog bites, hand her a chew toy and praise her for chewing on it instead. Seven-month-old puppies may be done teething or may be developing their molars. Chewing helps relieve the pain of teething, and after your dog is done teething, biting may remain a habit. Providing an appropriate chewing outlet can greatly reduce the frequency of nipping and biting.
Stop playing as soon as your puppy bites. Yelping like a hurt puppy may help with some puppies, but other puppies will be unaffected by yelping. Wait two to three minutes, then return to playing and stop playing again if your puppy bites. This helps your puppy understand that biting stops playtime.
Hand-feed your dog occasionally. Regular hand-feeding can cause your dog to refuse to eat unless hand-fed, but periodic hand-feeding teaches bite inhibition. Hold food out for your dog, and if she eats it gently, continue feeding. If she bites your hand, say, "no" and remove the food for five to 10 seconds, then try again.
- ASPCA: Mouting, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
- Dog Breed Info Center: Successfully Stopping Puppy Biting
- How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With; Clarice Rutherford
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge DVM et al.
- Most puppies naturally grow out of play biting in the first year or so of life.
- A taste deterrent such as bitter apple can deter your dog from biting. Spray it on ankles, hands and other areas your puppy frequently bites.
- Puppies are especially likely to bite when they are highly energetic. Take your puppy for frequent walks and give her time to calm down when you come home before playing with her.
- Avoid tug and chase games while your puppy is learning bite inhibition. While these games are fine when a puppy stops biting, they can encouraging play biting.
- Don't give your dog socks, shoes or clothing to chew on. This teaches her that people and their clothing are acceptable chew toys.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.