Dear Jeni, How do I teach my 3 month old puppy that my fingers are not chew toys?
Puppies are little biting machines. They bite things that move, things that don’t move, each other, your hands, anything. Not only is it normal, it is an important part of their development. When Puppies play they learn from their playmates’ yelps and body language when a bite is too hard. Your puppy needs to learn that human skin is fragile. Let your puppy bite you every now and again so you can let them know which bites are too hard. When you puppy bites hard, give a high pitch squeak or “ouch”! Then, stop all play and leave them alone for a minute, letting your puppy know that his/her teeth hurt. Each week ask your puppy to bite a little softer by putting him/her in a “timeout” for hard bites. Be careful not to encourage pesky biting behavior by not getting your pup over excited with rough playing or tug-of-war. Also be careful not to reward biting or nipping by giving him/her attention (i.e. picking him up, talking to him, a mild shove or even scolding) because it can reinforce the behavior.