Biting Puppy – How to Teach Bite Inhibition

stop biting Golden Retriever

According to the American Kennel Club, Golden Retrievers are the fourth best dog breed for kids.

So why is that my Golden is biting my seven year old boy? And, more importantly, what should I do to stop him from biting? I’ll answer these questions later in this article.

But first let me say this…puppy biting is totally normal and naturally necessary!

Goldens are mouthy dogs so it doesn’t come as any surprise that they like to play with their mouth. He may be tugging at your shorts, nipping at your arm, lunging at your shoes, etc., he’s just being naturally playful.

But, I know those sharp, little puppy teeth hurt!

Many canine experts recommend teaching “bite inhibition” as early as possible.

What is bite inhibition? Bite inhibition is defined as the dog’s ability to control the pressure of his mouth when biting so that it causes little or no damage to the person it is biting.

Biting started from almost week one when your puppy was playing with his littermates. They would play-fight each other throughout the day. What he may have learned is that if he bit too hard then the  others would yelp and stop playing with him. His mother would do the same as well.

He’s now dependent on you to teach him the ways of his world.

Your puppy needs to know that your arm (and other people) is sensitive and not another rubber toy.

Why Bite Inhibition?

Before we get into the “how”, let’s explore why bite inhibition is important for a puppy to learn.

Why shouldn’t we teach our pups not to bite altogether? Like I previously mentioned, dog’s are mouthy animals. Many times they react with their mouth like you would do with your arms in some occasions.

Therefore, we want our pup to control the force in which they bite down. It will give your dog an opportunity to hold back if any emotional (i.e. – fear) opportunity arises.

Teaching a dog not to bite is a short-term solution but bite inhibition will pay off as the puppy ages into an adult.

Teaching Bite Inhibition

The first thing to always keep in mind is don’t pull away if your puppy bites you. They will think it’s a game and bite inhibition training will probably have a reverse effect than desired.

When a puppy bites you, practice the following when teaching bite inhibition;

  • Hold your hand firm
  • Bend toward your puppy looking him in his eyes
  • Immediately after he bites, say a quick and sharp “No Biting!”, “Ouch!” or make a yelping sound – This should stun him for a second to stop biting or release its bite pressure
  • Immediately reward him with a chew toy and subtle praise

Another effective method is to ignore and walk away from him when he bites.

Dogs, especially Goldens, love attention. If you yell “No Biting!” and turn your back they will mostly likely second guess their decision.

Dogs react differently so find what works for you and stick to it. Make it simple for your dog to understand your body language and verbal commands.

What Not to Do When Teaching Bite Inhibition

Do not get aggressive or physical with your puppy no matter how hard he bites.

Remember, he’s still a puppy and still learning the ways of his environment. You’re aggressive behavior will only encourage your puppy’s aggressive behavior.

Also, don’t be the only one teaching this if you have a family. If you have children, teach them to teach your puppy. Many times, children will be a little rougher. This will only spark the playtime mentality with the puppy.

If the kids do the same techniques you are doing then the end result will be a more well behaved family Golden.

When should they have it under control?

Puppies typically have their biting under control around three or four months of age. This means they will probably still bite but they will know what’s too hard.

By about five to six months, the puppy should learn not to bite, not just a controlled bite. For this stage, walk away from playtime any and every time your Golden bites. This will hopefully teach them that biting isn’t worth losing the human interaction.

Concluding Thoughts

I’m in the process of teaching Lucky to control his biting. I can honestly say, it’s been quite the journey…especially with an active seven year old boy in the picture. 

But, I know the work we put in now will pay off in the near and far future.

Not only will your Golden be more likable and approachable but it will lessen the risk of future unwanted interactions or emergency visits.

Remember to be consistent and don’t give any leeway because they will take advantage of it.  

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