Have a Biting Puppy? Nipping & Play Biting is Normal in Puppies

It is very common for puppies to nip, or playfully bite at your hands and clothing. However, adult dogs who have never learned how to inhibit their biting behaviors at a young age will continue to engage in this behavior. Nipping is a normal, natural behavior for dogs. They use their mouths, as we use our eyes and hands, to discover what is going on in the world around them. Nipping should not be confused with aggressive dog behavior, as it is not a form of aggression. Rather, dogs nip in order to communicate, interact, explore, and play. Soon after puppies are born, they start using their mouths to acquaint themselves with their surroundings. After just a few weeks old, a puppy will use his mouth to play with his brothers and sisters. Some grown dogs, typically the ones whose masters have encouraged them to play aggressively, or who have been taken from the litter prematurely, keep up the habit of nipping when they play and when they encounter a stressful situation or environment. Pups within the same litter will bite and mouth each other, and this is the way that they play together. This “playtime” is a very crucial stage in a dog’s development, as it is when he will be taught, from his siblings, how much is too much. That is, through their reactions to his behavior, a dog will learn how to restrain himself from biting too hard.

When, for example, a pup bites his sibling and causes him pain, the hurt pup will let out a loud cry or yelp and will not continue to play with him. This, in turn, will show the biting puppy that when he bites like he just did, he will receive negative consequences: he’ll be left out of the game and ignored by his fellow littermates. When, on the other hand, he is severely bitten by one of his brothers or sisters, he will be taught how painful a bite can be . This explains why puppies that have been taken out of the litter prematurely are usually maladjusted; they didn’t get the chance to learn the important lessons stemming from the interactions with their family members. So, the next time you think about taking a puppy away from his mother, think twice, as he may not yet be ready, and if done too early, it will have an effect on his future development.

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