How to stop a puppy biting your hands and feet

How to stop a puppy biting your hands and feet by Anna Hope

It hurts! Those teeth are razor sharp and puppies know how to use them, it’s a good thing they’re so cute 😊

Using their teeth is totally normal to a puppy, this is standard puppy behaviour. If you saw your puppy with their littermates (hopefully everyone reading this saw their pup at home with their litter and Mum) then you would’ve seen how the puppies interact with each other and play.

This is especially clear when puppies are heading towards the age when they are then off to their forever home. The play with their littermates becomes rougher, involves more teeth and generally looks painful (to us) 😂

So remembering that this is totally normal puppy behaviour will always help you manage and cope with it. We need to give puppies time to adjust, learn and become an expert in our world. Give them time, space and patience and they’ll certainly get there.

How to teach Puppy Mouth Manners

Hands, fingers, face, ankles or feet…whatever floats your puppies’ boat, it all hurts!

There are a few things we can do to help our puppies build this skill and become that bite free zone we all hope comes sooner rather than later.

A few tips to get you through!

Think about when it is most likely going to happen.

An excited, over tired, bored and over aroused (generally means over tired) puppy will be more likely to nip and bite. I know that doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre though as puppies are always excited! These are the times to NOT handle and pick them up or play energetic games such as tug or chase with them, instead these are the times to have TONS of toys around for them to safely play with alone.

Give the pup some space by leaving the room (not removing puppy), use baby gates if you need to and give them some time to get that energy out by biting and rough playing on the toys.

When they’re calmer you can return and act as if nothing happened, carry on with your day and encourage some calm play if you fancy.

Keep it simple

Really clear consequences to their behaviour is always the best way for pups to learn. As soon as any one feels teeth on their skin – they need to just simply walk off.

Teeth on human means that the human and the fun stuff ends.

When puppy is calmer, they can be encouraged to play and once the energy shifts again and teeth pop out, repeat the process.

This is the same for everyone in the household, if puppy isn’t allowed to nibble the kids legs when they run past but they’re ok to nibble Dad’s hand when he comes home from work, this is really confusing for your puppy. No teeth on human means no teeth on ANY human at ANY time.

Help them out and keep it clear for them.

You’ve prepped, given time and walked off when teeth come up but they’re still hanging off you, what else we can do.

You know when to expect the biting and you’ve prepped for it, you’ve also got in a really good habit of walking off when they do bite, but they’re still doing it?

This is totally normal.

Learning is a process for us and our puppies and they need time to learn. Keep doing the same things, keep consistent and they will get the message and learn how to safely and appropriately interact with everyone in their family.

If you are struggling with any of this and you could do with some indivual help, reach out and send me a message -

Some trouble shooting for you.

You’ve tried using toys but they come back for more – trying to encourage them on to a toy instead is awesome and a great technique. We would all rather our puppies nibble a toy than us! If you give the toy to pup and they soon get bored and come back for some more human flesh, then remember to add in some time and distance. Give puppy the toy and then leave the room/area puppy is. When they’re calmer you can then go back in. This will take some problem solving depending where you are but get thinking. Baby gates are great.

If it’s happening when people arrive home/walk past – use baby gates at the door, encourage a sit and build that sit up so someone can walk past them. Reward that sit lots!

Night time Zoomies & biting – this sometimes goes hand in hand in the early weeks of a pups life. Over the country between 7-9pm dogs are all having their ZOOMIES time! This might look like your puppy doing a mad dash around the house, growling and nibbling you or toys. If biting is happening, give them some toys and remove yourself from the room. Give them space and time to burn that energy off!

Avoid adding to the excitement – when puppy bites, avoid squealing or shouting at your puppy for this because guess what?! You’re now a human squeaky toy! Don’t add to the energy in the room, instead diffuse it. You feel teeth, you leave the room. No shouting, no squealing, just leave. Puppy will learn that teeth means the fun goes away.

It’s not working! I can’t put a time frame on it for you but it isn’t something that all puppies just stop within a week. If you have a puppy who loves to bite things, breed behaviour comes in to play here too. Research your breed and see if they have a tendency to bite and hold stuff, if this is the case you need to put this training at the top of your priorities as you may not be dealing with simple puppy behaviour, but also working with breed specific behaviour and natural instincts.

Here’s what to do if you’re struggling with any of this, reach out to me and get my personal help.

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