One way to stop a puppy from biting is to say “no” while holding his mouth/muzzle closed for a second, followed by ignoring the puppy.
Holding the puppy’s mouth helps to get the point across – “don’t bite” – for some puppies.
I did this with my family’s last puppy, and it worked.
Some people will say “no bite” but “no” is all that’s needed. I teach my dogs that “no” means “stop what you’re doing” so there’s no need to elaborate.
Oh my God that’s so mean to hold a puppy’s mouth shut!
People are sensitive to the idea of holding a puppy’s mouth shut because they don’t want to be “mean” or “too aversive” or – God forbid – dominant.
I can see where they’re coming from, and if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
Instead you can just tell the puppy “no” or “ouch” and walk away.
On the other hand, some puppies will be thrilled you’re holding their mouth shut! “Oh boy! Attention!”
This is yet another example where simply walking away and ignoring the puppy for biting is the most effective.
Just be consistent.
Aren’t we lucky there are so many training options?
Gently grabbing the puppy by the scruff
Another option (thanks Sandy!) is to gently but firmly grab the puppy’s scruff as you tell him no with a gentle shake. This is essentially what a mother dog would do, and the simple touch works well to get his attention and gently “correct” him.
I know some people will be shocked I’m mentioning this option, but it’s just not a big deal!
It works for cats too. Just sayin’.
What about squirting the puppy with water?
This can work too, but for me it just complicates things. I don’t always have a water bottle handy, but I can always say “no” and walk away.
A squirt in the face with water is really effective as a correction for some puppies. Yet, other puppies think this is a fun game! My retriever Ace thinks it’s great to be squirted with water! Silly Labs.
Another option is to use a product called the Pet Corrector (affiliate link), which shoots air at the dog. This is unpleasant for most dogs and helps to stop unwanted behavior.
I wouldn’t use this for really young puppies because it could scare them. I’d use it for “teenage” pups six months old or so.
Reaching your fingers into your pup’s mouth to stop biting
This is not what I would recommend because there’s a risk of the person getting bitten even harder and I also think it’s a little mean. I wanted to bring it up, though, because I know people do try this option or search for info about it.
When your puppy bites your hands, the idea is to push your fingers further into the pup’s mouth so it’s uncomfortable for him and he tries to back away.
It sends a pretty clear message. “Don’t bite me!”
Many trainers will say not to do this, and I don’t recommend it either, but if it works for you and your pup, then so be it.
Yelping when the puppy bites
I wrote a post on this last week. It can be really effective to yelp when a puppy bites because this is how another dog or pup would communicate “Ouch! You’re too rough!”
This works for some puppies, and it just gets other pups even more “riled up.” It helps to consistently ignore the puppy after you “yelp.”
How do you stop a puppy from biting? Do you put your hand on the puppy’s muzzle?