What to do if your puppy bites you OUTSIDE of a training session

By Emily Larlham

Every time a puppy is reinforced for putting teeth on human skin, a bite-reinforcement history is being created.  Take mouthing seriously and make sure you do not reinforce it!  Ignoring biting is a bad idea because it is self-reinforcing!

There are many ways to stop biting from being reinforced.  Use your judgment as to which technique works best for your puppy to lower his arousal.

The first step is setting up training sessions to teach your puppy not to bite.  Follow the instructions in these videos to train your puppy not to bite you.

Teach your puppy not to mouth or bite:


Teach your puppy not to mouth or bite the leash, your shoes or your pants:


While you are training your puppy not to bite or mouth you in training sessions, here are some things you can do to stop your puppy biting you OUTSIDE of training sessions:

1. Interrupt and redirect: Call your puppy away from the person being bitten- “pup,pup, PUPPY!” and redirect him to a toy or something more appropriate.  You can also interrupt a bite by simulating the “Yipe!” of another puppy, but this can actually have the reverse effect on some puppies and make them want to bite you more!  So use your common sense.  Also you want to teach your puppy what you do want him to do first, before using this technique.  Do not use this technique to scare or intimidate puppies.  You simply want to sound like you are in pain.

2. Remove your attention: Stand up and withdraw your hands if the puppy is biting them.  Resume when the puppy is calm. You can also step over a baby gate to prevent interactions until the puppy calms down.

3. Use prevention: If you know that your puppy ALWAYS bites in certain situations, set those situations up as training games first. If your puppy ALWAYS bites your feet when you go up the stairs, click the puppy as you approach the stairs and click and treat as you go up for the absence of the bites.  Give your puppy a chew or take the puppy for a walk BEFORE his witching hour begins rather than trying to work through it.  You can also put your puppy in his pen if he starts to act over-excited.

At no time should you use physical or psychological intimidation to stop your puppy biting, as this can cause unwanted side effects like fear, over-arousal, and even aggression.  Instead, simply stop your puppy from practicing and finding biting reinforcing.

Spending time on the handling exercises and teaching default calm behaviors like a settle will increase your puppy’s abilities to cope with exciting situations and help him make the correct choices.  Dogs can start to become mouthy when they are over-excited.

If you are teaching a young puppy to never bite you, keep in mind that you also want to train your puppy to have bite inhibition.  This means that you want your puppy to bite softly if he ever were to bite.  You teach your puppy this by constantly training him with treats, or every week feeding him some of his dinner by hand, so he learns to control his mouth.  You can also let your puppy play with other puppies and adult dogs, to learn to control how hard he bites.



25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips:

For each month of the year, I will release 2 training tips that will be accessible for free at dogmantics.com.  If you simply cannot wait for the information to be published online, and want to support my work, you can buy the collection of all 25 training tips in an ebook format here: 25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips  Thank you!

This is a list of all the tips included in the ebook, and that will be eventually available online:

  1. Teaching a dog previously kept outside to be calm inside the house
  2. The problem with ignoring unwanted behaviors
  3. Fading a lure
  4. Adding a verbal cue or changing a cue
  5. Dogs and babies
  6. Socializing tips- Our world can be a scary place!
  7. What to do if your puppy bites you OUTSIDE of a training session
  8. Changing your thinking from “I don’t like” to “I need to work on”
  9. What to use as reinforcement
  10. Treat deliveries
  11. Teaching your puppy appropriate greetings on leash
  12. Teaching “All done” for training sessions and dinnertime manners
  13. Variety is the spice of life… and training!
  14. Teaching your puppy to walk off leash
  15. Don’t let your dog free feed
  16. Don’t only work on one behavior at a time
  17. Separation training tips
  18. Monkey see, monkey do- Take advantage of social facilitation
  19. Always remember to release your dog!
  20. The importance of handling
  21. Chewing
  22. Teaching “Drop” and “Get it”
  23. What to do if your puppy sits and refuses to budge on a walk
  24. Generalizing
  25. Training your dog to do absolutely… NOTHING!

Happy Training!