Almost all dog owners have to go through a biting stage with their puppy, but the length of this stage varies depending on the cause, and how proactive the owner is at nipping it in the bud (pardon the pun!)
If your Pitbull puppy has just started letting his razor-sharp baby fangs loose on your poor hands, fear not, this article should help you to figure out why he’s doing this, and how you can calmly get him to stop.
Why Is Your Puppy Biting?
The first step to finding a solution to biting pups is to figure out the root cause of this behavior, while many owners chalk it up to just being playful, there can be more sinister reasons behind your puppies sudden biting.
I’m not saying that your pooch is plotting against you to take over your home, rather, he could be starting teething, or be possessive of his toys or food.
The most common reason that a pup starts biting is definitely to play!
You’ll often see him playing with his littermates by gently nipping at them, and he’ll frequently try the same kind of play with his parents – although, it doesn’t go down as well with them!
Once your puppy leaves his brothers and sisters, he starts to adopt you as a new playmate and tries the same tactics that caused so much fun with his littermates.
When your puppy begins to teeth, his poor little mouth will likely feel really sore, with the only relief usually being to put pressure on his gums – and what better way to do this than by gnawing on something?!
The unfortunate reality is that often, the closest things for your puppy to get his teeth into (another pun, wow, I’m on a roll!), is you, or your furniture.
Pain or Sickness
When your puppy suddenly starts nipping in a way that’s entirely out of character, it can be a sure sign that something is wrong.
When you’re stroking him, and he turns to bite you, pay attention to what caused him to do this, if it was just when you were stroking his back, or shoulder then perhaps he’s just trying to tell you that it hurts.
If along with the biting your pup isn’t being his usual bubbly self, for example, if he’s lost his appetite or spends most of his time lying down – it’s likely worth heading to the vet for a quick checkup.
Plain old nipping is a natural behavior for dogs and doesn’t seem like a problem to your puppy unless you tell him that it’s not OK.
When he nips at his fellow puppy pals, they have the additional protection of thicker skin and a good dose of hair protecting them from pups’ sharp little teeth.
The most common anti-social or aggressive behavior usually comes from a puppy that is trying to assert his dominance over you.
This often starts with food proud or toy possessive dogs that nip at you when you try and take either away from them, or attempt to stroke them as they are eating or playing.
Dogs are of course natural born hunters, sure, they haven’t had to hunt for survival for a very long time, but the instinct remains.
For that reason, you may find that your pup tries to chase after cats, or other small animals and give them a nip, this isn’t too disastrous while they’re tiny little balls of fluff but can have catastrophic and deadly results when your dog reaches maturity.
Very common in rescue puppies and dogs, if your pooch has suffered from neglect or mistreatment before, even if you’re nothing but sweetness and light – he may worry that he may receive the same treatment that he did previously and attempt to defend himself even when it’s not necessary.
Finding a Solution
With so many possible reasons that your pitbull puppy could be biting, the good news is that the majority of the solutions will work for most dogs!
Don’t Rush Them: This one is especially important for owners of rescue dogs if you’ve just brought your new Pitbull pup into your home and you notice that they become nervous easily and nip at you – take it slower.
It can be tempting to include them in every part of your daily life and fuss over them, but for your new pup, he may need time to settle in and not feel as though he’s behind enemy lines.
All dogs know when they’re in someone else’s territory and are usually especially nervous when they’re in this situation, an excellent solution for making them feel at home is to create a “safe zone” for your pup that is only for him.
What is a safe zone I hear you cry?!
Well, it’s simply a little area for your pooch to go where he can get away from everything and have time to himself.
Choose an out of the way corner to set up a crate with a bed, along with an area for a food and water bowl – then leave your dog to enjoy this area free from any human or fellow canine interaction.
A staggering number of owners are guilty of inconsistency if their puppy nips and hurts them – they correct them, but if their puppy is “play nipping” they let them get away with it.
By giving mixed signals your pup will, of course, become profoundly confused and not realize that the rule is “Your teeth don’t touch me.”
Teach Them To Be Gentle
Many accidental bites occur when playing fetch or giving dogs treats, one great solution for this is to teach your pitbull puppy to “be gentle.”
You can start to do this by giving your puppy a treat after he has eaten so that he’s not hungry, and saying the word gentle, or a command of your choice.
As he’s not hungry, he should take the treat without biting your hand off (a third pun of the day!), and you can then praise him heavily for doing as you asked.
But what do you do if he’s too rough?
Withholding the treat and making a negative noise to show such as “ah-ah” is enough to let your pup know that he has done something wrong without resorting to negative reinforcement such as hitting which does more harm than good.
Encourage Non-Contact Play
Instead of playing rough with your pup and rolling around on the floor with him, you can still have fun with him and make sure that he gets plenty of exercise without the risk of biting by encouraging non-contact play such as fetch!
If your pup tends to get over-excited when playing with you, one of the best solutions is to refocus his energy away from you.
If your dog has an affinity for putting things in his mouth, then picking up a few chew toys is an excellent output for all of that chewing energy, and can even improve dental health!
An exercise that you can do with your dog to teach him that only toys are for putting in the mouth; is to place a few chew toys on the ground, then sit him in front of you, and the toys.
Wait for your pooch to start playing if he retrieves a chew toy you should praise him readily, but if he instead starts nipping at you, pick him up and place him back in front of you without saying anything and repeat the exercise until he selects a toy instead of your hands!
Reward Good Behavior
The very best training advice that I can offer you is always to reward positive behavior, and ignore the other stuff.
Now, I’m not saying that you can let your dog get away with being naughty, but you don’t want to accidentally reward him with your attention when he’s doing something that you don’t want him to do.
Time Outs or Ending Playtime
If your pup is getting carried away or throwing a temper tantrum the best way to deter them from continuing with this behavior is to make this time not fun, you can do this by simply ending playtime, or ignoring their attempts to get your attention until they calm down.
However, don’t make the mistake of locking him in his crate when he starts biting, as this can have the undesired effect of making him associate crate time with bad memories when we want him to think of his crate as a nice relaxing place to be.
There’s no denying that a Pitbull puppy is a little ball of utter cuteness.
But, while bad behavior and biting at eight weeks old don’t seem like a problem, as they mature and grow – this bad behavior not only becomes more dangerous, but it’s also more difficult to train them out of it.
One of the major reasons for dogs being given to rescue centers is that their owners didn’t put the time in to train them to be well behaved from the get-go.
Instead – upon realizing that their once tiny puppy had become hard to manage a giant dog with much bigger teeth – give up on them.
Training your Pitbull puppy to stop biting is incredibly simple, all it takes is time, patience, and most of all – consistency in correcting the behavior every single time that it occurs.