Photo of a tan puppy laying on a rope toy

Puppy Biting, Chewing and Toy Manners

It’s normal and necessary for puppies to bite. Sometimes, they bite anything and everything. Teething is serious business and biting feels SO GOOD to a puppy. It’s important that we address biting properly so that your puppy won’t cause harm and also ensure that their need to bite is addressed and satisfied. Many people wonder what to do when a puppy bites. Learn how to stop your puppy from biting you using some of these pointers.

Tips and tricks for biting puppies:

  1. When your puppy bites your arms, feet, etc. it’s important to offer them a REPLACEMENT. There is no need to yell, punish or hold their mouth closed (this is NOT an effective way to teach a puppy to stop biting – they NEED to bite) – simply offer them an alternative from the items below.

  2. When your puppy bites clothing, shoes, pants, dresses – teach a solid “leave it”. You can begin with a treat and work up to asking them to leave he clothing item (train it first!). I have a some great videos on teaching leave it at

  3. Hand feeding – Hand feeding helps puppies learn to be gentle with our hands. Every chance you get, I recommend you allow your puppy to eat their food from your hand.

  4. Take it, drop it, trade – teaching your puppy to take toys and food with permission, drop toys and items on command and trade items will help your puppy become gentle and aware of the appropriate use of their mouth. This will also help to ward off any possible issues with “resource guarding”. Give your puppy more than you take so that they never feel the need to grab or hide items from you.

  5. Puzzle feeders – Offer your puppy some mental stimulation when they are in a biting mood. This will help them take their mind off of biting and satisfy their need to use their mouth. Puzzle balls and puzzle feeders are great for times when your puppy is being mouthy.

  6. Use the opportunity to teach “bite inhibition” – meaning we train the puppy to not bite TOO hard. This way when they play with other dogs and interacts with their mouth, they have learned to play properly. You can help your puppy have a “soft mouth” by yelping loudly if they bite you too hard. If your puppy stops biting when you do this, reintroduce your hand again to see if they are more gentle the next time. You can say “good gentle” if they are gentle the next time. If they are, great! Let them gently explore your hand again. If they are still too rough, replace your hand with a chew toy from the list below. (It is never appropriate for a puppy to bite our arms, feet, clothing, etc.). 

Satisfying items for teething puppies:
My preferred toys for teething puppies are small rope toys tied on each end – they are also available in fleece varieties. You can even store them in the freezer which will feel so good for a teething puppy. Plush toys are great for chewing (be sure they don’t eat any pieces. A Kong stuffed with goodies can be frozen as well. Other teething type toys for puppies are available at pet stores and many of them can also be frozen. Having a great VARIETY of toys will always help when you are trying to take the interest away from your puppy biting you and on to a toy instead. You might consider rotating toys or hiding special ones for times when your puppy is really biting. This way the toy is “new” and more interesting and likely to be chosen over an arm or shoe. Please be a partner to your puppy and work to figure our solutions rather than punishing them for normal behavior that they are doing to fill their needs. 

Deciding what to do about puppy biting is important for many reasons. How we handing puppy biting can shape the way they react to us in the future. If your puppy bites, be sure to handle it with patience and love so you don't make it worse.

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