Puppies investigate the world with their mouths. This can mean lots of nibbling and biting of fingers and feet, which probably wasn’t the fun you imagined when you brought a puppy into your world. Puppies may also bite because they’re teething, they consider biting social play, or they don’t know how else to communicate. The good news is — whatever the reason for your puppy’s biting — Lauren Langman is here to help.

As an expert dog handler and agility champion, Lauren Langman has helped thousands of puppy owners overcome biting-related challenges. Here, she shares four methods to tackle biting and enjoy injury-free adventures with your puppy.

1. Teach Your Puppy Different Ways to Interact With You

Biting might be one of the few ways your puppy knows to interact with you. The more ways you teach them to communicate, the less likely they are to opt for biting. Lauren Langman recommends games as a fun, easy way to teach your puppy new ways to interact. Here are three games you can practise.

Play Middle

The “Middle” game encourages your dog to stand between your legs, staying close to you. This new way of interacting can disrupt their biting behaviour.

When your puppy is facing you, hold a piece of food by their mouth. Lure them around one side of your body with the food. They should walk behind you. Reach your free hand between your legs to encourage your puppy to come between them.

When they’re standing between your legs, reward them with the food ration and toss another piece of food in front of them. You could also announce a release cue, like “Okay, go!”

Create A Boundary

Creating a calm place to hang out can help your puppy lower their arousal and make them less likely to bite.

A puppy bed is a great place to teach them to calm down. But a chair or even a tree stump on a walk can be just as good when out and about. Whatever item you choose, this is going to be your puppy’s “boundary.”

When your puppy moves towards their boundary, toss a treat or food ration onto the item. Your puppy should go to eat the food. When they do, they may put a foot, or both feet, on the boundary. They may do this right away, or it may take a while.

When they do put their paws on the boundary, toss another piece of food onto the boundary to reward them. Always place the food on the boundary rather than feeding your puppy directly. This helps them see that the value is in the boundary.

Keep rewarding your puppy when they interact with the boundary until they climb up with all four paws. Reward your puppy generously and celebrate their success. When they jump up onto the boundary consistently, add a cue to reinforce this behaviour, such as “Hop it up!”

Toss a piece of food away from the boundary to release them and restart the game. They should hop back on the boundary for more fun.

Play Nose Touch

The “Nose Touch” game is great for developing your puppy’s confidence and optimism, making them less likely to bite.

When you have your puppy’s attention, extend your palm out to the side. Keep your hand two to three inches away from their nose and at their eye level.

Hopefully, your puppy will move towards your hand and touch your palm with their nose. If they do, say “Yes” and throw a piece of food for them. Remove your hand when they have eaten their reward and reoffer it to restart the game.

If your puppy doesn’t move towards your hand, place a food ration onto your palm to encourage them to interact with your hand. As your puppy becomes more confident interacting with your hand, try the original game again.

As your puppy gets better at this game, switch the hand you use and delay your “Yes” and rewards.

2. Give Your Puppy Enrichment Opportunities… But Not Too Many

If your puppy has too few or too many enrichment opportunities, they may resort to biting. In this case, your responses (such as squeals or shouts) can stimulate them more, causing them to become overexcited. This is even more likely to happen if children are involved.

Your puppy is more likely to bite if they’re not getting involved in activities that enrich them. Solve this by giving your puppy opportunities to interact with the right things, like chews, toys, fun training games, and safe exploration opportunities.

For example, Lauren Langman recommends filling a bottle with kibble and encouraging your puppy to move it around the house. You could also scatter a handful of food around your garden for your puppy to sniff out.

Creating these opportunities is particularly important if your puppy has been inactive for a while, perhaps if they’ve been in a crate during a car journey. In this case, it can be helpful to find an opportunity to enrich them along the way. For example, there may be somewhere you can stop mid-journey so they can run around.

But it’s not all about finding more things for your puppy to do. They also need rest opportunities to allow them to decompress. This is essential for avoiding overtiredness and high arousal. A tired or stimulated puppy is much more likely to bite. Make sure you include activities that promote calmness rather than arousal, like the boundary game explained above.

3. Keep In Mind That Your Puppy Might Be Teething

If your puppy has a habit of biting, they may be teething. A puppy’s teeth usually come through when they’re around three weeks old, and the teething process could last for another eight months. If they’re biting, chewing, or gnawing excessively, they could be trying to alleviate discomfort or pain as their teeth move, grow, and settle into place.

Give your puppy opportunities to chew without biting you, perhaps by giving them stuffed bones, stuffed kongs, or long-lasting chews.

4. Prevent Your Puppy From Rehearsing Biting Behaviours

It’s not uncommon for a puppy to bite their owner’s feet, which are often within easy reach for a dog. Puppies don’t know right from wrong, so they’re not doing this to hurt you. While it’s easy to react in surprise and pain when this happens, there is a better way to fix the situation.

If your puppy has a habit of biting you, next time they do this, scatter some food for them to focus on instead. This can de-escalate the situation and avoid your puppy becoming overly aroused.

Lauren Langman’s Advice: Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Rather than being a reactive puppy owner, be a proactive one. Reacting to biting can make your puppy even more excited and likely to bite. Instead, strategic management plans like these can block undesirable biting behaviours.

Listen to Lauren Langman discussing these tips to tame a biting puppy on the Sexier Than a Squirrel podcast. Listeners tune into this podcast every week to pick up her latest training advice.

About Lauren Langman

Puppy biting is just one of the challenges that Lauren Langman helps dog owners overcome. Her training games guide owners through numerous struggles, prioritising fun and relationship building. This approach has revolutionised the training process for owners worldwide, who have seen immense progress as they build their dogs’ confidence, calmness, optimism, and a huge range of skills.

Langman teaches her pioneering concept-focused dog training games both digitally and in person via Absolute Dogs and Devon Dogs. Those who want to experience her game-changing training in person but don’t live locally can book a luxury training stay at one of her Bowerland Cottages in Okehampton. During these stays, owners and their dogs follow a custom training plan that addresses their specific needs with one of Lauren Langman’s expert trainers.