Is it normal for your puppy to bite?

It’s possible if your puppy gives you a nip that you may be concerned about aggressive behaviour, but it is more likely that he is simply testing his environment with his mouth.

Puppies use their mouths to start to understand the world around them. ‘Mouthing’ is a normal behaviour in young dogs and usually taught to them by their mothers at an early age. On occasion, however, the puppy may not have learnt to do this properly. It could be due to poor teaching, or being removed from his mother too early in life, but the result is usually that the puppy is clumsier with his mouth.

So can you help your puppy to understand when they have given you an uncomfortable nip?

The simple answer is yes. The ASPCA suggests that you should respond to playful behaviour by making a yelping noise and pulling back from the dog so he knows his bite has hurt you. Playing with other puppies also helps him to learn how to use his mouth appropriately.

You can spot aggression in the form of more tense body language and possibly the baring of his teeth. The bite is also likely to be more painful. On such occasions owners need to remain calm while holding the puppy still until he is quiet. There is never any need to hurt your puppy while doing this.

Puppies won’t always learn straight away, but gentle, consistent reactions to a bite will help him to understand his behaviour is not welcome.