You already know puppy biting hurts. It’s sometimes relentless and can even be scary. But there is good news. Puppy biting is normal. The better news is that puppy biting provides you an excellent opportunity to teach your puppy one very important lesson: human skin is extremely fragile.
Adult dogs have very powerful jaws. The average dog has the strength to crush small bones. But the average adult dog also uses her mouth to play. She may even occasionally play bite. So how does a dog know when it’s appropriate to bite lightly for play and when it’s appropriate to use her bone-crushing strength? You guessed it, she learned as a puppy.
Puppies have very weak jaws and needle sharp teeth. When puppies play with each other they may play bite. The playmates let the puppy know when she has bitten too hard. How? If the puppy bites too hard the other dog yelps and
immediately quits playing. Nothing is more upsetting to a young puppy than loosing her chance to play. Next time she’ll bite more softly, now she is learning how fragile other dogs are. Other dogs can tolerate more from your puppy than you can, so we need to teach the puppy that human skin is VERY fragile. That’s different than teaching her not to bite at all. We want the puppy to experiment with us so she knows we injure easily. That way, if your puppy ever bites as an adult, she will set her mouth at human strength, not bone crushing strength.
Let your puppy mouth your hand and arm playfully. Tolerate the soft mouthing. Before long she will try a little harder, immediately let her know how much it hurt. Yell OUCH as convincingly as you can. Then end the puppy’s play session by walking away for a minute. Keep this up until you find your puppy is biting more softly more often. In time, you will begin discouraging all puppy biting.