Puppy Biting and Teething
Are you concerned that your puppy is biting you or maybe growling and nipping you? Have you lost a couple (or likely more than a couple) personal items due to your puppies chewing habits?
This is all very normal and thankfully avoidable! When puppies play with each other, they use their teeth to bite and they growl at each other. They are not being aggressive, they are playing and while it can sometimes sound pretty serious, it likely is not. Aggression, especially in Golden Retrievers, is not natural. It is usually derived from fear or insecurity from one experience or another.
Another reason your puppy may be biting or chewing on things is because they are teething. If your puppy is chewing on something they are not supposed to, it is likely not because they are ignoring you telling them no, they likely do not know the difference between what they can and cannot chew on yet.
I will explain below how to help your puppy stop play biting and chewing on things it is not supposed to.
How to get my puppy to stop biting?
Like was said above, puppies bite their siblings when they are playing. The only difference between you and your puppy's sibling is we have a lot more sensitive skin and we do not like play biting. Your puppy does not know this and needs to be taught. The best way to avoid this is to ANTICIPATE when it is going to happen and not even let it be a thing. When your puppy tries to bit your hand, feet, clothing, etc. give it a stern "no" and give it something it can bite and play with. You can also try the tactic that puppies use within their litter and that is to cry out when their sibling (your puppy) bites you. Give a loud cry noise or "ouch" when your puppy bites you. Give them praise when they quit and again direct them to something else. You can also give them something that they are allowed to bite such as a toy or chew item. It is very important to remember that your puppy will not learn this overnight. Eventually they will forget that play biting with you is even an option. This could happen very quickly or it could take weeks/months. Consistency of course will help this to happen faster!
How to get my puppy to stop growling?
Again, like was stated above puppies typically growl when they are playing but not always. When a puppy is playing they usually combine growling and barking and frolicking around. Ignore your puppy when it does this or redirect their attention to something acceptable. Do not interact with him/her or give any sort of praise for this behavior, they are trying to get any sort of reaction from you. You can give a stern "no" if needed but typically if you direct your puppy's attention to something else they will quit. If it is necessary, you may put your puppy in his/her crate to settle down with some quiet time before coming back out to play. If your dog is growling for some other reason other than play, other steps may need to be taken (not associated with this topic but view some of our other topics), growling is your puppy's way of communicating that they are not okay with what is happening.
How to get my puppy to stop chewing on things it is not supposed to?
Puppies and dogs chew and that should not be taken away from them. Instead, they need to be taught the difference between what can and cannot be chewed on. Provide plenty of items that they can chew on and keep any and all items they are not allowed to chew on AWAY from them. For items that you cannot move such as cords and furniture, be sure to supervise them at all times and if they do start to chew on something they are not supposed to, give them a firm "no" and direct their attention to something they can chew on!
Never react aggressively or yell/hit your puppy when it bites you or is chewing on something it should not be. It is not their fault they do not know yet. Make sure kids are monitored with young puppies at ALL times to ensure the puppy does not try to play bite the child. A child can react negatively and scare/hurt the puppy which can easily ruin the puppy's trust with children.
Each time you give the pup a toy or treat, say, "take it" before he puts it in his mouth. Grabbing is not allowed. When your puppy has mastered "sit," I would recommend you implement the practice of doing so before any toy or food is offered.
Never play tug-of-war with a young pup no matter how cute this growling ball of fluff looks on the other end of a rope or stick. If you give up the game, your puppy wins and advances up the leadership ladder. If you pull the rope from his teeth, you may hurt his tender young mouth. Puppies that learn to play tug-of-war frequently look at any moving piece of clothing as fair game, even if there's a child inside.
Teach children that puppies must never be encouraged to chase or bite. While it may seem cute for a puppy to chase a child, this may not end up well if the puppy learns to do this when he/she is older and knocks the child down. Same goes with putting fingers/clothing items in the puppies mouth, even if it seems harmless now.
Use discipline, not punishment for infractions of the rules. A stern "no" or "quit it" and putting it in its crate to settle down should handle most infractions.
Be persistent and consistent. If it was wrong yesterday, it's wrong today.