Puppy Biting Reason #2: Play

When trying to figure out how to stop a puppy from biting, you must understand that there is tremendous emotional and psychological overlap between dogs and humans:

  • We’re both highly social animals that sympathize and empathize
  • We both exude love, experience longing, and enjoy physical contact

But despite these many connections, we don’t always see the world through the same eyes.

We socialize in very different ways – even as young children, humans don’t generally bite their peers (but of course, there are always exceptions to this rule).

Puppies Bite to Socialize & Play

Within the canine world, this playful biting helps to establish social order.

It’s analogous to kindergarteners who tease, tag, and sometimes hit one another.  Over time, a natural pecking order emerges with popular kids at the top and “runts” at the bottom.  Young kids don’t tease to be cruel and puppies don’t bite to be mean – it’s just part of the socialization process.

Understanding this is important when selecting the best training technique to stop your puppy dog from biting.

For puppies, gentle nips and bites carry very different and potentially useful information than they do for us.  They’re playful ways of interacting with the rest of the pack.

Just observe a litter of new puppies for a few minutes, and you can see it yourself.  They bite one another as if in an endless game of “tag you’re it.”

Behavior that we consider unacceptable – they regard as fun and playful.

Note that when this fun goes overboard, the bitten offender will immediately let his comrade know – usually with a short yelp.  But as long as the bites are within reason, the fun and games will continue indefinitely.

This is why training your puppy not to “play” bite is so important.

You must teach him or her that this natural urge to bite others is not allowed.  Without this reinforcement, there’s no reason for your puppy to stop biting.  Your young dog will continue to socialize using the only vocabulary he or she knows.

Recommended Bite Prevention Techniques

As with the previous reason discussed (exploration), substitution training can be effective when deciding how to stop a puppy from biting.  We also recommend bite inhibition, because it closely mirrors the “yelp” technique outlined above.

Use the resources down below to learn additional reasons behind puppy biting and how to prevent it: