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Taking a new puppy home is an utter joy. Let’s say you’ve set everything up perfectly. You’ve already purchased all the things that you need such as collars, leashes, food/water bowls, crates, blankets, toys, stuffed animals, and food. You have been a responsible pet owner and made sure to puppy proof certain areas in your home to prevent your new pooch from getting into trouble. You’ve even done what you can to make sure you have play pens and baby gates. But as your puppy begins to adjust to your new home, you begin to ask… “why does my puppy chew on me?” It appears that he has decided that his new favorite chew toy is you!
There’s nothing innately wrong with that… after all, puppies are curious little babies that are just now beginning to explore their world. It’s completely understandable why they would want to learn more about the world around them. They mouth and use their teeth and tongue to feel all the new textures around them. Unlike humans they don’t have hands, so essentially that is why they chew and nibble on everything. But that doesn’t completely answer “why does my puppy chew on me”, does it?
And so, today we are here to talk about why puppies nibble and chew, and what you can do in order to handle this behavior. Want to learn more about behavioral training for your new pooch? Stick around and let’s do it!
What Are New Puppy Behaviors?
When you first bring your new puppy home, chances are you’ll be facing a lot of new things. If it’s your first ever dog, it can be somewhat confusing and overwhelming – that’s for sure. But that’s completely fine! New puppies can be quite energetic and hard to keep up with sometimes, so if you’re wondering what some new puppy behaviors are, here are a few of them to make it easier to figure out what it is your lil pooch wants or is doing.
It is 100% completely normal for your new puppy to bark. After all, all dogs bark – it’s their way of communicating and is essentially their language. Unfortunately, as humans we can’t quite understand what it is they mean or want simply from listening to them barking. However, it’s not too hard to infer what your dog is communicating by simply looking at context clues. Barking is absolutely normal, but do your best to start training them early on to not bark when they shouldn’t be. Teaching them the speak and quiet commands will help in this matter.
Although you are wondering “why does my puppy chew on me”, this puppy behavior will pretty much help to explain it entirely. Nipping, biting, and chewing are all behaviors that are normal with new pups so you shouldn’t be afraid. This is essentially how they learn their world and explore everything. It’s okay if they do, as long as you make sure that they cannot get into anything that you do not want them to chew on. Tape down or hide electrical wires, for example. Also do what you can to hide stuff that you don’t want your pet to bite on!
Toilet time is certainly something that can get confusing when you have yourself a new pup. After all, sometimes your pet can be eliminating for a reason. If, for example, you are indoors and your pup is mostly house trained, then chances are you want to figure out why they eliminated when they know they should wait until they are outside. Pups eliminating where they shouldn’t could mean that they are over excited. It could also mean that they are afraid, or anxious. In these cases, you want to see what you can do about this behavior. You want to see what you can do in order to avoid them eliminating where they shouldn’t. You want to nip this habit in the bud otherwise you’ll have a pup that keeps making messes when you don’t want or need them to!
Crying & Anxiety
Crying and anxiety are things that you want to watch out for when it comes to your new puppy. You want to behaviorally train them so that they are not afraid of everything. Anxiety is not good for your pup – and of course you always want to be sure you do what you can to help them be comfortable. It’s never good to simply allow your pet to feel anxiety over things. You need to show them what is alright and what isn’t – it will make your life so much easier if your pet is more aware of how the world works.
The only thing that we can say for sure is unacceptable is aggressiveness. You do not want your puppy to be aggressive in any way, shape, or form – unless they are defending you. But in most cases, you need to teach your pup to be much more calm and friendly, especially when it comes to social interaction. You want to be able to take your pup out to places and for walks without them running into trouble, after all!
If you are unsure whether you can safely teach your pooch not to be aggressive, you might want to consider introducing them to a puppy obedience class, which often also teaches the same. In general, puppy obedience classes are great ways to socialize your dog and get them trained. You also pick up a lot of knowledge and information about how to raise your puppy well. Therefore, if you are a newbie and this is your first puppy, an obedience class is great and can be completely helpful with a lot of stuff!
Why Does My Puppy Chew on Me?
Now that we’ve talked about all the behaviors you are likely to encounter from your new pup, it’s time to answer the question “why does my puppy chew on me?”
It’s Their Natural Urge
As we have mentioned, puppies usually have the natural urge to chew. However, some puppies have a stronger urge to do so than others, which is why you may notice that some puppies will chew and gnaw and nibble all day while others don’t really seem to be interested in it at all. As we’ve previously discussed it is 100% natural for puppies too enjoy chewing. However, as their owner, it is upon you to make sure that you do everything to teach your new puppy not to chew things that they should not be gnawing on.
If it happens to be you, then you have to slowly train them until they learn that it is not OK for them to be using you as their personal chew toy. So to answer the question “why does my puppy chew on me?” – the answer is simple. They either want to play with you, or they might be teething, or they might just be anxious and looking to release some pent up energy.
So how do you handle a puppy that likes to chew far too much?
If it is your first time owning a puppy, then it is completely understandable if you feel somewhat overwhelmed and unsure about how to handle some of their misbehaviors. However, it certainly is lucky that we live in the 21st century where the Internet contains basically everything that we ever need to know. As a first time pet owner, you have so much more information and guides at your disposal now than you would have had even just 2 or 3 decades ago. Everything is so much more accessible these days, which is why it is no excuse to not learn everything that you need to know in order to make life great not just for you but for your dog too.
Luckily, you’ve landed at the right place for figuring out how to handle a puppy that likes to chew and nibble just a little bit too much. Are you ready to figure out how to teach your puppy not to chew on you? So are we. So here’s how:
Teach your puppy bite inhibition.
Bite inhibition is basically a lesson that all dogs learn simply from interacting with their litter or their mother. In essence, bite inhibition is teaching the puppy not to bite too hard so as to cause pain or draw blood. If your puppy no longer has their litter or their mother to teach them instinctively how to not bite too hard, then you have to take it upon yourself to teach them. This is one of the first steps in getting your puppy to stop chewing on you.
To teach bite inhibition, wait for your puppy to start chewing or gnawing on your skin. If they bite a little too hard and cause some discomfort, then you must make a sound of pain to let them know that it is unacceptable. You can imitate a dog’s cry or whine. However, if you don’t want to make a sound like that, you can choose to make a loud ouch or ow sound to startle them and let them know that biting that hard is not acceptable.
A note about bite inhibition:
It is important to remember that if you are trying to teach bite inhibition, you should not pull your hand away when they bite too hard. This is because some puppies may feel like this is a game, and they may be instinctively triggered to chase because dogs have a chase reflex/instinct. Instead, simply make the sound of pain, stay still and wait for your puppy to let go of their own volition. Then, calmly pull your hand away and wait 10 to 20 seconds. Don’t acknowledge them or give them any attention during this time to let your pup know that it is unacceptable for them to be biting in such a way. After the little timeout has elapsed, you can then go back to giving them the attention that they crave.
Over time, you will begin to notice that your puppy will bite more and more gently until finally they no longer bite down hard.
Distract your puppy when they try to chew.
If you are already in the process of teaching your puppy not to bite, then you are already well on your way. However, you still may be wondering “why does my puppy chew on me?” Well, if you are already trying to teach your pup not to gnaw on you but they still do, one of the ways in which he can get them to stop is by simply distracting them. For this, you will need a toy that they are very highly interested in so that you can get their attention and get their mind off of trying to chew on you.
When your puppy starts to gnaw on your skin, simply take out your toy and wave it around to get them interested in it instead. You can offer it to them to play with, or you can play some fetch or tug of war. This is actually a great and effective way to get your puppy to stop chewing on you while also helping them to realize what they should actually be playing with instead: their toys.
A note about playing tug of war:
Something that should be remembered if you are trying to play tug of war with your puppy is to make sure that you don’t hold the toy too hard or too tightly. Doing this may result in you teaching your puppy how to be aggressive. Trust us when we say that you do not want to train aggressive behaviors into your new pooch. Therefore, should read up more about playing tug of war with puppies to know how to properly do it without causing any harm.
Give Your Pup a Treat Toy
If your puppy is trying to chew on you and you would really like them not to, one thing that you can do is have a toy that dispenses treats handy. For example, there are toys such as the Kong which allows you to put treats or things like peanut butter in the middle. Once you give this dog toy to your pet they will realize that there is a tasty treat in the middle and they will do their best to try and retrieve it so they can get the yummy yummy peanut butter (or treats!).
A toy such as the Kong is not just effective for teaching your puppy what to chew on, it is also effective for keeping their attention or keeping them busy in case you cannot supervise them too closely. A lot of people even choose to use the Kong toy to help a puppy get accustomed to their new crate (crate training).
What to do if your puppy is ankle biting
If your new puppy fancies themselves to be somewhat of a shark and they love to bite and nip at your ankles every time you walk by, then there are a few things you can do to prevent this behavior from happening in the future. For example, you can keep a toy handy at all times to employ the distract strategy each time your puppy tries to chomp on your ankle. However, if you do not have a toy handy here is what you should do. Don’t run, don’t yell at your puppy, and try not to appear excited or frustrated. Instead, stop in your tracks and pay no attention at all to your dog.
Often, ankle biters chomp down in order to seek attention. By not rewarding them with what they crave and instead punishing them by taking away whatever attention they had, you teach the puppy that it is unacceptable to be nipping at ankles. Stop in your tracks for about 10 to 20 seconds or until your puppy realizes that they should let go and stop biting you. Once they do, you can then reward them with love and affection such as cuddles or praises. Eventually, your puppy will begin to realize that biting your ankles does not reward them whereas being patient and seeking attention gets them exactly what they are looking for.
We truly hope that we have answered the question “why does my puppy chew on me” for you. We also hope that all of the tips we provided here today will help you to properly train your dog to be a well behaved and well-adjusted pooch that you can love for many, many years to come. That is not to say of course that you shouldn’t love a dog that isn’t well trained just yet – love them equally , but be aware of the work it will take to get your dog to know what they can and can’t do.
Of course, we want to remind you that if you struggle with training your new puppy by yourself, you can check the Internet for advice and speak to people on forums as well. If this still isn’t enough, then you can take your puppy to obedience class – something that for sure they will enjoy. Good luck with your new puppy!