Saturday, May 27, 2017

What to Do With a Puppy That Barks & Snaps at Me?

Biting and snapping is a normal part of a puppy's behavior, but that doesn't mean that it should be allowed to continue. This normal stage of puppyhood should be taken advantage of and, instead of being an inconvenience, it should be looked upon as a way to teach the puppy what he should be chewing on.


    Puppies don't have hands to explore the world around them, so they tend to use their mouths instead. This behavior is a normal way for a puppy to explore its surroundings, but when it goes unchecked, it can lead to undesirable adult biting. Do not allow the puppy to bite or snap at people, clothes or anything else you're not going to want him biting as an adult. Redirect the biting and snapping to appropriate places, such as chew toys, rawhides or tennis balls. When the puppy begins to bite at his own toys to satisfy the biting urge, praise him to help make him understand that this is exactly what you want him to be doing.

Be Dramatic

    If the puppy bites and snaps at your hands, fingers, legs or clothing, remember that he's just exploring new ways to play. Most puppies are taught by their siblings and mothers what is right and wrong when it comes to force and that role is yours now. So, be overly dramatic -- yelp in pain when he snaps, even if it's just a gentle play-bite. Make a show of being hurt to let him know that he has done something wrong. The loud noise will startle him and, when you have his attention, move away from him. Make it clear that you're ending playtime if he can't be nice. Once he becomes apologetic, with kisses and a lowered tail, forgive him and allow play to continue -- on your terms.

End It

    Biting and snapping can also be a way of testing boundaries and exploring just what they can get away with for puppies. If the puppy latches onto any part of you or yours clothing, end that exploration by asserting yourself as the dominant animal immediately. Scold loudly and firmly, remembering that puppies are listening to the tone of your voice, not the words. When the biting and snapping are coming as a part of playtime that has quickly turned into roughhousing, it is important not to keep wrestling with the puppy or playing in this manner. Stop immediately and, if the puppy refuses to calm down, place him in a crate or kennel or move him to a secluded area behind a baby gate. Make sure you can still keep an eye on him to make sure he's not getting into any trouble, but don't interact with, or talk, to him until he calms down. Once he's calm, he can come back out.

What Not to Do

    It's easy to encourage biting and snapping without even knowing it. Grabbing your pup's muzzle, pushing him away or continuing to interact with him sends a message that this is acceptable play. Games that encourage biting your hands, especially tug-of-war games, can encourage a battle for dominance between you and your pup. What you see as a game, he might see as a way to establish himself in the family hierarchy. Be sure that everyone else in the household knows the rules, for consistency is key in breaking the biting and snapping habit.

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