How to Teach Puppies to Stop Biting – The Hand Block

Ouch! How do I get my puppy to stop biting me?

One great method for teaching puppies not to bite is to use a hand block when you are playing games with toys.  This is a way for your puppy to learn about self-control and bite inhibition.  The goal is for the pup to learn that teeth on toys is acceptable and fun, whereas teeth on skin is NOT allowed and will end all fun immediately.

Select a toy that is small or “scrunchy” so that you can easily hide it behind your two hands when the time comes.  A tennis ball, small rope bone, small stuffed animal, or small squeaker – all will work great.  Once you have a dog who loves to play with a toy, you are ready to go!  Get the dog excited about the toy by letting him chase it and pounce at it.  Then, suddenly pick up the toy and hide it behind your two hands with the back of your hands facing the dog.  Watch the video to see what I mean.

When you hand block the toy, it is critical that you keep your hands out right in front of the dog to give him a choice.  He can either bite your hands, or stand back for a second and wait.  If he bites your hands you will NOT continue the game.  You can completely ignore him and keep your hands still, right where they are, or you can stand up and turn away for a few seconds.  I like to completely ignore, but some people find their pups bite too hard for that.  If you did ignore the biting, you will notice that at some point the pup stops and stands back.  Watch for that split second when the pup stops biting and moves back.  NOW, praise and immediately start moving the toy around on the floor again as a play reward!  You are rewarding the instant the pup decides to stand back and wait rather than jump at your hands and bite them.

Repeat this over and over, making it NO fun if the dog bites or jumps at you (no play), and LOTS of fun when the dog shows self control by waiting for you each time you do a hand block (the reward for the pup standing back is another chance to chase the toy, tug, or fetch).  Notice how the Westie in the video never touches his teeth to my skin.  Watch him carefully when I hand block.  See how he turns his mouth away  right when I do it?  He didn’t start out that way.  He learned it!

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