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How To Stop A Puppy From Biting

Dogs biting

If your puppy is biting you or other animals you could be wondering – is my puppy just born to be aggressive? The good news is that biting doesn’t always mean you have an aggressive dog, and its also a problem you can often fix with training. If the nipping continues despite the tips and training techniques on this page then you should hire a professional to deal with the problem.

Why It Happens & How To Stop It

There are several reasons why a puppy might bite, most reasons are innocent but this behavior should always be corrected.

1. Playing

Have you ever watched two dogs play with each other at the park? If you have then you will probably have noticed that their play often involves wrestling and rough-housing. To an uninformed outsider it can look like fighting but really its just their way of letting loose and having a good time. In the wild animals have a drive to play-fight because it sharpens their ability to defend themselves which is important when it comes to keeping predators away.

Puppies have not yet learned how rough is too rough, so sometimes gentle mouthing can become a nip.

What To Do: When puppies are young they learn their limits by the reaction of the friends they are playing with. If they nip and their playmate yelps in pain they quickly release and over time they learn to be gentler. You should do this too. When your puppy nips make a yelping sound or any short and sharp sound which indicates pain. Don’t pull, let him release the bite all on his own, then after a little while you can begin playing again.

2. Herding Instincts

You may find herding breeds nipping at the feet and ankles of people walking by. German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are just a few breeds who tend to display this type of behavior. As unpleasant as it may be, don’t think of this as an attack, and don’t get angry or dish out punishment as this can actually make the problem worse.
What To Do: Work to distract your pup with his favorite toy and a short play session. Move it around in front of him to make it interesting and he should quickly release your feet in favor of the toy.

If this doesn’t work it might be time to take a leaf out of grandma’s book of tricks. Did your grandma ever put something with a nasty taste on your thumb to stop you sucking on it? Apply Bitter Spray to your ankles and your dog will quickly learn not to go near them.

3. “I’m The Boss!”

Dogs are pack animals, so they have a drive to find their place in the pecking order. Puppies with a strong dominance drive (usually intact males) can guard their food bowl and possessions fiercely. You may notice a puppy growling when anybody gets near him while he’s eating. If a pup thinks he is top dog you could also find him trying to exert power over you and other family members which can rear its head as aggression. When a dog seems to “guard” you when other people are around its easy to think of it as a sign of love and affection, but he could also be trying to guard one of his “posessions” from outsiders.

Behavior like this doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you, it’s just that, like most pack animals, the designated “alpha” keeps the pack functioning correctly and expects certain privileges. It’s also common for other dogs to challenge for this position so the alpha has to react with aggression to ward off would-be competitors. This behavior of challenging and of aggressively defending challenges means the most powerful dog is always the pack leader.

It’s important that all members of your family learn not to tolerate shows of dominance, even children, because an alpha puppy could quickly take advantage of a child’s submissiveness.

What To Do: Become the commander-in-chief! Always enter doorways first and remember, you are the owner and have control over mealtime which is a powerful tool in your arsenal. We don’t send our puppies to bed without supper for being naughty, but it’s up to us to put their dish on the floor and to let them have it. Instead of letting your pup barge through you to get his food, make a point of eating first and make him wait for you to give him permission to eat. The same can be said of toys and playing – if your dog is showing signs of aggression make sure you are the one who has the toy in your hand when the game is over and that it’s you who decides when playtime begins and ends.

You can also get the boys neutered which quickly resolves a lot of the problems.

4. Lack Of Socialization

By meeting other friendly humans and animals a puppy will learn to feel comfortable around strangers.

Socialization is when you teach a dog to feel comfortable and safe around strangers, be it new people or other animals. When dogs are still very young they are more receptive to new situations which makes this task much easier. As they begin to mature, however, it becomes trickier and you could find they are cautious and guarded. If puppies have not been socialized they could feel threatened by strangers and react as if that person or animal is dangerous, which can result in biting.
What To Do: Always socialize puppies before they mature. Take them out and about, let strangers pet them and feed the puppy treats during these times to create positive associations. Let them play with other dogs and learn how to make friends. If your puppy has already matured and you have missed the window of opportunity read this article by the Animal Humane Society about socializing older dogs.

5. They Just Love To Chew

Puppies have a strong urge to gnaw on things, and because they don’t yet understand that it causes pain they could explore their curiosity by nipping at you.

What To Do: Find something more appropriate for your pup to chew on. Toys are not only tools to stimulate a puppy’s mind, they are also a great outlet for chewing. Be careful about the items you give your puppy to chew, hollow plastic objects can snap when bitten and leave razor-sharp edges.

When Nothing Is Working

Nipping can either be a simple annoyance or a sign of a larger problem with aggression. If the behavior continues despite these techniques you should recruit a professional. Not all dogs can have aggressive behaviors trained out of them, but, like children, puppies are impressionable and receptive to new teachings so training is usually able to resolve these issues quickly.


How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?


You might have thought adult dogs nap a lot, and you’d be right, but the amount of time puppies spend sleeping makes adult dogs look like live wires! Newborns can spend almost all of their day napping, and the majority of their waking hours feeding.

This post will cover the amount of rest your puppy should be getting each and every day and why it’s so important. We will also be covering what to do if your new dog is having sleeping problems.

Why It’s Important

When dogs are asleep their bodies are able to focus on growth and on increasing the strength of their muscles. A puppy has a lot of growing to do and they reach adult size a lot quicker than people do. If they don’t get enough sleep they could encounter a number of problems including:

  • Bad behavior

    A dog who doesn’t get enough sleep becomes agitated and can behave badly as a result. This bad behavior can include tearing up your furniture or mouthing. Things can go from bad to worse if the lack of rest is accompanied with demands to be active. If you exercise your pup too much their body will produce adrenaline to compensate, which can lead to hyperactive and unpredictable behavior.
  • Poor learning

    Did you ever try to sit through a class while fatigued? It’s the same thing for our dogs! When they are feeling the effects of sleep deprivation don’t expect them to pay attention or respond well to training.
  • Stunted growth

    Because sleep is so important to growth without enough of it development can be impacted.

How Long Do Puppies Sleep?

The time a puppy spends sleeping will depend on their age. A newborn could need up to 22 hours of sleep per day! As time goes on they will be able to spend more time awake and active, but could still need anywhere between 15 and 20 hours every day. The biggest chunk of this time will be spent overnight (which should usually be around 12 hours) with a lot of naps spread out through the daytime. You may find your dog needing a longer time to rest if they are a large breed.

If you find your dog’s sleeping pattern changes in an unexpected way or seems unusual there are several possible causes you should look into:

  • Stress

    When a puppy relocates to your home for the first time he could be stressed by the changes and feel uneasy about being taken away from his mother and siblings. This stress and separation anxiety can lead to insomnia. Allow him time to adjust to his new family and show him love and care throughout this period.
  • Dietary issues

    Is the food you are providing delivering the right nutrition to your new companion? Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs and it’s important that you provide them a diet which is appropriate for their age. Without adequate nutrition a dog can lack energy and may spend even longer snoozing!
  • Health issues

    There are several health problems which could lead to either insomnia or oversleeping including thyroid disorders, fleas and itchy allergic reactions. Speak to a vet if your dog’s sleeping pattern is unusual to rule out any medical cause.
  • Sticking To The Routine

    A dog in his crateIt’s a good idea to get into a routine so your puppy’s body clock can adjust to a healthy sleep schedule. At around 7 pm once he has eaten and is showing signs of drowsiness take him to a quiet, darkened room and put him in his bed/crate to rest, then leave the room.

If the puppy hasn’t been housebroken you can either set up a toilet area in his sleeping space (a few sheets of newspaper on one side of a crate will do the job but training pads or natural materials are better) or get up a couple of times in the night to take him outside so he can do his business. Depending on the age of the pup you may wish to check in every once in a while anyway, just make sure he is not vocalizing and trying to get your attention when you do so.

Dealing With Problems

The first step to take when your puppy appears to be feeling overly fatigued or cannot sleep is to rule out any obvious problems. If you hear him crying out a lot in the night then it’s likely the anxiety he feels by being away from you is disturbing his ability to relax. You need to teach him that it’s okay to be alone by staying away in spite of the protest. It may be difficult to ignore cries and wails but it’s important that you don’t respond to this behavior by rushing back to your puppy’s side. Returning as they cry out will only teach them to do it more often because they will begin to associate the act of crying with your return, love and affection.

If you rule out any psychological causes and the diet is appropriate it’s best to consult with a vet to explore possible medical problems.