How To Stop Puppy Biting & Jumping Up

Puppy Jumping Up
Gabi L / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr: takenbygabi

Puppies use their mouths to explore the world, much like young children, except a puppy’s teeth are much sharper than a small child’s!  Puppies also use their mouths to play and enjoy ‘mouthing’ on toys, hands, feet – anything that they can chomp on. Whilst this behaviour is very cute, if left unchecked it can cause real problems later in life.

Although puppy mouthing and nipping at a young age isn’t usually aggressive and is not meant to hurt you, it can turn into very unwanted behaviour when it is a 90lb dog gnawing on your thumbs.  In the same vein, a puppy jumping up at your knees for attention has a high adorable factor, but a fully grown Great Dane leaping up at you is less fun!

It’s important to train your puppy in manners when it comes to biting and jumping up. Use our handy guide to find out how.

Biting & Manners

The easiest way to begin training for biting is through substituting your hands and feet with chew treats or toys. When you want to play, pet or groom, have a distraction ready in one hand so the puppy diverts his chewing attention away from your body.

Remember to switch which hand the treat is in so the puppy doesn’t automatically leap for it. Keep petting time short and build up slowly. Spend too long handling your puppy and the excitement levels will explode and the hand chewing may begin!

Biting Redirection

When playing with littermates, puppies let their siblings know when they have gone too far with a loud yelp. Adopting this approach can help with puppy’s inappropriate biting. The next time puppy makes a lunge for your big toe, shout “OUCH” and imitate a whimpering puppy. If your puppy has been socialised well in the early weeks of his life, he will recognise something is up.

Now, ignore your puppy, turning your back if need be. Wait until he has calmed down before restarting playtime.

Rules for Jumping

Jumping up is usually an attention seeking act when it comes to puppies. For the first few days, you fall into the trap of thinking that it’s cute and that he loves you lots. Don’t be fooled. Give it a few weeks and a few more lbs on your puppy’s frame and it stops being cute pretty quickly.

Dogs like any sort of attention, sometimes even when it is negative, so telling him to “get down” may have a limited effect. A more successful method to prevent jumping in the long run is to ignore him.

When your puppy jumps up at you, turn your back and give the command “Off”. If your puppy follows you around and keeps jumping, repeat the process, turning your back and giving the command “Off” until he stops jumping. At this point, calmly lavish lots of praise on him. If you praise him with an excited voice, you could kick start the jumping again.

Be consistent and fair. If he approaches you calmly, or sits waiting to be petted, then heap on the love! This applies to everybody. It’s no good just one person in the house laying down the law. Ensure everyone is on-board with providing consistent training.

What NOT to Do

Never, ever hit your dog. This only encourages fear and potentially aggressive behaviour, resulting in behavioural issues including:

  • Being fearful of humans and their hands being near him
  • Running and hiding from you, instead of interacting calmly and confidently
  • Biting as an aggressively defensive action in an attempt to avoid being hurt again
  • Thinking that you are playing with him and becoming even more excitable and ‘bitey’

If your dog is not responding to training and is being overly excitable, stop playtime and ignore him until he calms down, keeping both you and him safe.

Puppies and Young Children

Never leave a small child unattended with a puppy. They will find it difficult to maintain consistent training or give commands. Even if you think your puppy is the best behaved dog in the universe, animals are unpredictable by nature. Young children may be inclined to pull tails or run away from puppies, making the puppy think that it’s playtime. This could encourage jumping up and nipping. Always supervise small children during puppy playtime.

Follow these simple rules to minimise unwanted behaviours in your puppy. Of course, all dogs are different and respond in different ways. Do your research and train your dog in a way that suits both them and you.

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