Puppies love to bite and chew, but does it seem like your puppy is singling you out? That could actually be the case, and this article will explain why your puppy bites you, and no one else.
Puppies that leave their mothers at a young age often continue practicing their bite threshold on their new owner. Additional reasons include teething, boredom, or that you are accidentally encouraging the behavior.
Let’s explain that in full detail and cover more points about puppy biting and what you can do.
Why Does My Puppy Only Bite Me?
Let’s elaborate on the main answer given above. And in fact, there are a couple more reasons why your puppy is biting in the first place.
- Your puppy is still testing and practicing his bite threshold
- You are making him anxious (perhaps without knowing)
- You are encouraging the behavior (without meaning to)
- He’s still teething
- The kind of breed you have
One thing is for sure, puppies and dogs are not mentally capable of disliking a certain person. A question I get often is whether the puppy is biting only one person in the family because they don’t like them.
This isn’t the case, so you don’t have to worry. It’s down to a few reasons that I will explain in detail below.
1. Your Puppy Is Testing & Practising His Bite Threshold
The most likely reason your puppy is biting only you is that he sees you as his main leader or mother figure.
● If your puppy was taken away from his canine mother too early, he would have missed the chance to practice his bite threshold with her and his siblings.
● While puppies are still with their mothers and siblings, they begin to explore the power of their mouth, niping and biting on a daily basis.
● Mother dogs then proceed to severely tell off their offspring when they bite her too hard. And although this can be unsettling to watch, puppies learn A LOT about their bite. If your puppy wasn’t able to get that with his canine mother, he’ll pick out who he considers to be his human mother and do the same.
2. You Are Making Him Anxious (without knowing)
The other reason your puppy only chooses to bite you could be that he senses some nervous energy from you, or you’re inadvertently doing things that make him anxious or uncomfortable.
To clarify, you may be acting completely normal, but it is just how your puppy is interpreting your actions and demeanor.
Ways you may be making your puppy anxious without knowing:
● Trying to hold, hug, and snuggle up close with your puppy. Puppies don’t understand affection, so when you try to cuddle him, it could actually be making him feel very uncomfortable.
● Speaking overly loud or in certain tones. Some puppies are rather timid, and any loud speaking or shouting can cause a lot of nerves. On the flip side, puppies can get overly excited very quickly, and your tone of voice and volume may be causing hyperactivity.
● Interacting with him too much. There’s a small chance you’re interacting/playing/speaking and showing him too much attention. Puppies see most things as an initiation to play, and he may think you’re trying to play all the time. Or it could even become frustrating to your puppy and his bites are a signal for you to let him be. When he wants to play, he’ll come to you.
3. You Are Encouraging The Behavior (without meaning to)
The way we react when puppies demonstrate unwanted behavior has a huge impact on the way they understand what has just happened.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy to accidentally encourage behavior we don’t want to happen.
For example, when your puppy comes to you and starts trying to nibble your fingers like a deranged crocodile, if you react haphazardly or in a way that excites your puppy, he could see this as a good thing instead of a bad thing.
If you quickly jerk your hand out the way (like nearly everyone does) this is likely being understood by your puppy as an act of play. And so all he’s going to do is try chomping away at you even more emphatically.
4. Teething Pains
Teething is a major growth and development stage that all puppies go through.
● We can’t ignore the fact that teething results in puppies biting and chewing A LOT more than they usually would. While this doesn’t answer why they target you, it’s still important to keep in mind.
● Teething timelines range depending on the breed and even puppy to puppy, but in general, teething starts at around 2-3 months and can last until the 7 or 8-month mark.
● During this stage, teething pains will come in waves and your puppy will be subconsciously inclined to chew and bite anything he can. This helps the teething process, massages the gums providing blood flow and pain relief.
● Coupled with the fact that your puppy will see you as his main leader/authoritative figure, it will be normal for him to come to you for his problems, this means biting you, to relieve his teething pains.
● Teething can be described as a nightmare by some owners, and it’s entirely possible your puppy will dramatically reduce his biting habits naturally after teething has stopped.
5. The Breed You Have
Some breeds are much “mouthier” than others and you may not have realized this before choosing what dog you want to get.
Of course, this doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of choosing a dog, but it will explain a lot during puppyhood.
Most working, herding, hunting, and retrieving breeds are predisposed to bite and chew on everything they can, it’s literally in their DNA.
Breeds that are known to be “mouthy” during puppyhood:
- Airedale terrier
- American pit bull terrier
- American Staffordshire terrier
- American water spaniel
- Australian cattle dog
- Australian kelpie
- Australian shepherd
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bernese Mountain dog
- Black Russian terrier
- Border Terrier
- Spaniels (all breeds)
- Chinese Crested
- Chinese shar-pei
- Chow Chow
- English foxhound
- English setter
- Finnish Lapphund
- German Shepherd
- German shorthaired pointer
- German wirehaired pointer
- Golden Retriever
- Irish red and white setter
- Irish setter
- Italian greyhound
- Jack Russell
- Labrador retriever
- Northern Inuit dog
- Pharaoh hound
- Portuguese water dog
- Shiba Inu
- Shih Tzu
- Siberian Husky
- Tibetan mastiff
- Vizsla Weimaraner
Many of the breeds on the list also happen to be some of the most popular dog breeds in the world. It’s more than likely your breed is considered to be extra mouthy.
Puppies have a short attention span and are constantly looking for interesting things to do. The moment your pup gets bored or doesn’t have anything else to focus on, he’ll resort to biting and chewing.
If you have plenty of exciting toys (like this one) on the ground, he may be happy to focus on those, but if he doesn’t, he might decide to chomp down on your fingers for entertainment.
This can also be considered a message to you, saying, “heyyy, I’m bored!” let’s play!
Why Does My Puppy Bite Me & Not My Husband?
This could come down to a few reasons…
1. Female relatable to canine mother:
Your pup may consider the female to be more relatable to his canine mother and will therefore continue nipping and testing his bite threshold.
2. Viewing the husband as the alpha:
In other situations, he may view the husband as the alpha (potentially) and therefore chooses to avoid nipping/playing with someone of “high pack status”.
One thing to consider would be how you both interact with your puppy. Which of you seems to take more responsibility? spends more time with the puppy?
3. Closer bond with you:
It could even be that the puppy is choosing to bite the female due to the fact they have a closer bond. If the husband isn’t as close or affectionate with the puppy, it could cause the pup to keep their distance instead of pushing boundaries.
How do you know which one it is? Unfortunately (and honestly) it’s very hard to diagnose a specific reason. To do this, you’ll have to consider your overall role in how you interact with your puppy, and consider household dynamics (whos the alpha, etc).
Effective Way To Stop Your Puppy From Biting You
Let’s take a look at the most effective way to stop your puppy from biting you. This is a simple training routine to get used to and works exceptionally well thanks to the underlying positive reinforcement principles in it.
When Your Puppy Bites You, Do The Following:
1. Interrupt The Biting
The first step to take when your pup starts biting you is to stop the biting and interrupt his attention abruptly. The best way to do this is by saying his name followed by a firm “No!”
Establishing your puppy’s understanding of the word “No!” is extremely important, and the word “no” will need to be used many times. Be sure to give your puppy a firm “No!” in a deeper tone than normal.
Other than this, there is no further need to physically or verbally address this behavior directly. Giving one or two “No’s” is more than enough to convey your feelings of disapproval.
2. Redirect The Biting
The second you have your puppy’s attention and have given him a firm “No!” (addressing your disapproval). It’s crucial to redirect his biting to an appropriate toy.
One of the main reasons puppies bite and chew what they aren’t allowed to is because they don’t know the difference between things they can and can’t chew. And that’s completely normal and to be expected!
Redirect your puppy to one of his toys that he is allowed to chew.
Of course, toys get boring quickly, which is why it helps to rotate one or two toys every few days or once a week. This keeps your puppy excited for “new” toys every week. (To do this, it’s best to get a multi-pack of durable toys)
3. Reward Him When Refocused
To complete the lesson and highlight the underlying meaning, it’s vital to reward your puppy with plenty of praise and a tasty treat once his attention has been successfully refocused.
It’s crucial to wait at least 5 seconds to ensure his attention remains on the toy, otherwise, he might confuse the reward for him biting your fingers (exactly what you don’t want to happen).
Why Does This Work?
It sounds awfully easy and simple, doesn’t it?
In reality, your pup might not refocus on his toy immediately, pushing the limits a little further before he listens.
But when he does, It’s crucial to capitalize on it.
In the end, this training WILL work, it won’t work after a day, but after a solid week (or two) or training and consistently redirecting his chewing behavior, he will eventually only chew on what he knows he’s allowed to.
This works because puppies ultimately want to appease their owners and have their owner’s approval. I know it doesn’t seem like that, but it’s the truth.
Once a puppy knows the difference between right and wrong, they generally always stick to what they are allowed to, unless they are stressed, frustrated, or are lacking basic needs.
Basic positive reinforcement like this remains to be the best way to train a puppy or dog anything. With enough repetition and positivity, you can teach a puppy anything.
What NOT To Do:
I want to take this moment to mention that there are RIGHT ways and WRONG ways to train your puppy not to bite.
I have seen so many people give bad advice (although well-intentioned) to puppy owners including:
- ❌ Holding their mouth shut after they nip you
- ❌ Pinning them on their back to show them you are the dominant one
- ❌ Putting a muzzle on them
- ❌ Incorrect styles of time-outs
- ❌ Punishing or hitting (even gently) the puppy
Why Puppies Need Their Own Space
You may have raised your eyebrows when you read that your response to nipping should be to remove yourself, rather than your puppy.
This is only an issue if your puppy resides in the most important areas of your home, which he shouldn’t. Not until he is trained and well-behaved.
Puppies need boundaries and they must learn that they are not in charge or rule the household. They should have their own set area (room or puppy pen) where they have their toys, their cage, water, and everything they need to be comfortable.
So when you need to suddenly ignore some unwanted nipping, you can leave “his” area and it won’t cause you any inconvenience.
Training puppies becomes a lot harder when they don’t have their own dedicated space. If they’re contained, it’s much easier for you as their leader to control the environment and their behavior.
Sure, it’s important for bonding and occasionally letting him in the main rooms and allowing him to discover the house. But during his early stages, before he’s trained and better behaved, it helps for him to mostly stay in his area.
P.S Don’t forget to invest in some appropriate puppy toys like these
Kong Natural Teething Rubber Toys
Rocket & Rex Puppy Selection Teething Toys
Assorted Puppy Toys for Teething
So you now know why your puppy bites only you and no one else. It’s likely that he sees you as his mother figure, and he may have been removed from his canine-mother too early. This means that he still is yet to discover his bite and what it means, so he’ll be doing that with you.
Alternatively, your puppy may be interpreting your actions and behavior as negative energy or it’s making him anxious.
If you follow the steps outlined above you should see a positive reaction in just a short amount of time. Remember that behavior that isn’t reinforced eventually stops.
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