Why is my puppy nipping and biting family members?
Just as children like to explore the world with their hands, puppies like to explore the world with their mouths. Mouthing is a common and normal behaviour in most young puppies. Mouthing behaviour is rarely aggressive and not intended to cause harm. As puppies are usually highly motivated to exhibit this type of behaviour, attempts to suppress or stop it are unlikely to be successful unless you give your puppy an alternative behavior.
Although often thought to be a teething behavior; nipping, mouthing and biting in puppies is generally a form of social play and exploration. Teething is more likely to involve gnawing or chewing on household objects. If you are experiencing problems with teething, make sure your puppy has ample opportunity for play. Social play with people could involve chase and retrieve games, as well as walks and exercise relevant to your puppy’s health requirements.
Although wrestling and tug-of-war games can be fun, they may lead to play that is too rough or unruly. Teething puppies may also find tug games painful for their gums. Instead, try using a soft, tugging toy and keep the games gentle. Puppies need to learn bite inhibition. This is something they start to learn with their litter-mates and one reason why puppies stay with their breeders until 7 – 8 weeks. During this time, the puppies have had time to practice social skills with other dogs. Regular interactive social play periods with other dogs or puppies in the home or in the neighbourhood can therefore be beneficial to the development of your puppy.