Puppy Biting Reason #1: Exploration

Puppies bite because they’re curious about the world and use their mouths to collect new information.  This is no different from human babies (toddlers frequently cram new objects into their mouths).

But within the canine world, this oral fixation is even more pronounced because dogs don’t have hands to examine objects with.  After their sense of smell… mouthing, nipping, and biting represent the best tools for discovering the greater world.

This natural tendency to explore and understand is incredibly powerful in young dogs – which is why most attempts to stop puppy biting ultimately fail.

Dog owners try to suppress this natural “biting” urge without offering substitutes like toys or bones.

When to Stop Dog Biting… and When Not to

Believe it or not, there is an important difference between acceptable biting and unacceptable biting:

  • The former allows the dog to process information without harming furniture, shoes, or your hands

To use a quick analogy…

Imagine if you regularly disciplined a young child for constantly putting his hand in the cookie jar.  Every time he climbs up on the chair to reach into the jar, you yell at him.

But you fail to explain why eating sweets is bad.  Worse still, you never provide him with alternative snacks – apples, cereal, whatever.

Over time, this young child might come to believe that “jars” are bad.  Or the “kitchen” is bad.

Cookies aren’t the problem,” he thinks to himself.  “I just shouldn’t go into the kitchen anymore, and I certainly shouldn’t touch any more jars.”

Similarly, biting in a young puppy isn’t inherently bad.  You just need to make sure that your dog’s continued exploration and information-gathering are well guided.

By using substitution methods to train your dog not to bite hands, you can encourage your puppy’s curiosity without sending mixed signals.

For more on this technique, click here.

But as many dog owners soon discover, exploration is only one of many motivations behind puppy biting.  Use the links below to read some of the other reasons behind this trend (and how to stop inappropriate puppy dog biting).

Each one carries its own recommended training and prevention techniques, so be sure to determine which category your dog falls under.

 Additional Reasons Why Your Puppy Bites