When you choose to get a puppy, your mind goes to the cute and cuddly little ball of fur and wrinkles that will instantly become your best friend. What many people neglect to think of is the puppy stage of destruction and endless bites and nips.
How do you stop an English Bulldog puppy from biting? Stopping an English Bulldog puppy from biting requires the use of proper chew toys as well as frequent and consistent training. You also need to be extremely patient with your puppy during this process.
Okay, I know that answer got a lot of eye rolls. Why state the obvious about training the puppy? Almost everyone knows you must train the puppy, but how? In this article, you will find tips and tricks to help eliminate the destructive and painful biting.
Biting and Nipping isn’t Cute
Bringing a puppy home for the first time provides a type of joy that is in its own category. You have been charged with caring for the cutest little animal, and you are probably swooning over it. Flash forward to a few days after the initial honeymoon, if you will. You suddenly realize this cute little fluff ball has the capabilities of Jaws, and you don’t know what to do.
First, it is important to know that biting, nipping and mouthing are natural stages a puppy goes through as they mature. However, it is important to know if you don’t get a handle on the behavior at a young age, the bites and nips will become painful and can be a dangerous gateway into aggressive behavior.
Why Do Puppies Nip and Bite?
Nipping and biting are natural for animals, and you will often see puppies doing just this as they play with other puppies. What you may also notice is a lot of high-pitched yelping coming from the playgroup of wiggly puppies.
These high-pitched yelps are because they have been corrected by one of their litter or playmates. The mother or father dog will also do this if the bites become painful. These high-pitched sounds are not sounds of pain. They are corrections, basically saying, “Hey, that bite hurt, stop it!”
A lot of puppies go through the phase of biting more aggressively as they are teething. Just like a human baby, teething can be very painful, and often pressure on sensitive gums offers relief. If a puppy doesn’t have something to chew and teeth on, he or she will resort to nipping, biting, or destructive chewing.
How Can I Help My Teething Puppy?
When helping your puppy through the teething stage, you must provide adequate toys for the puppy to chew on. Do NOT provide and old Jordan or Chuck Taylor for them to chew on. If you provide these as chewing options now, you will regret it later, as your puppy will view all shoes as chew toys.
You can find many appropriate and highly rated chew toys on Amazon that are both safe and durable for your puppy.
How To Choose an Appropriate Toy
There are numerous options when it comes to chew toys for your puppy, but be diligent in your research before purchasing because safety is key. To ensure you have found the proper toy for your puppy ask these questions;
- How large is my puppy’s jaw?
- The toy should not be able to fit into your puppy’s mouth completely, as this could lead to choking. Trust me, if the puppy can fit the entire toy into his/her mouth he/she will.
- What is the toy made of?
- Be sure to choose a toy that is made of a durable material, especially for teething. Rawhide is not something that you should be using for a teething puppy. It becomes gelatinous after chewing and can cause a choking hazard.
- What is the recommended chew strength?
- All chew toys are not created equal. There are varying chew strengths that are clearly listed on most toys. If you have a strong chewer, it would be wise to use a chew that is a level higher to ensure the toy lasts for your puppy.
Inspect the Toys Often
Once you have found the best toys for your puppy, your job has just begun. After giving your puppy all the new toys, you will want to take time to inspect them carefully after chewing sessions. Over time, you will notice the toys will begin to show wear and tear.
Be prepared to replace toys as needed. The last thing you want to happen is for the toy to break apart and cause harm to your puppy.
Appropriate Chew Toys for My Puppy
When choosing a chew toy for your puppy, it is very important that you get the appropriate size. If you choose a toy that is too small or not durable enough for a strong chewer, it will quickly become a hazard to your puppy. Some of the top-rated chew toys that would be appropriate for an English Bulldog Puppy are;
The great thing about Nylabone is the variety of options. There are chews for extreme chewers and gentle chewers, not to mention the variety of flavors and sizes available. This bone is specifically for teething puppies and should not be used beyond the teething stage.
I personally used this teething bone for my German Shepherd, and it carried him through the teething stage. When he was able to fit more of the toy in his mouth than was safe, we replaced it with a larger version of the X Bone.
This chew toy is made for puppies under 30 pounds and is safe for teething puppies. If you think your puppy will be able to destroy this chew toy quickly, it is always safe to move up to a larger size.
This chew toy is modeled after a stick and is appealing to puppies both because of the shape and flavors available. This is noted as a long-lasting chew stick, so your puppy could likely use it throughout their teething process.
You will notice this chew toy is the most expensive on this list, but I would say it has a lot of bang for the buck. This is an actual play mat with chew toys attached to the corners of the mat. Not only can the puppy enjoy the time chewing on the toys, but the mat is comfy enough for your puppy to sleep on.
One word of caution with this toy would be the rope toy attachment. Rope toys can be dangerous for puppies because they can easily come apart. If this is a concern for you, it would be easy enough to remove the rope attachment if needed.
How to Stop a Puppy from Biting
Once you have made it through the teething stage, you may notice your puppy still prefers to get mouthy. This doesn’t mean barking; this is referencing its affinity to biting for play. Teething typically lasts between the ages of 3-6months for most dogs. If you notice the mouthing behavior beyond this, it’s time to get it under control.
You have likely provided all the chew toys you can think of and feel like you have hit a wall when it comes to taming your biting pup. There are several things you can do to help teach your puppy manners, and it isn’t too late.
Go limp and make a high-pitched noise when you get bit
Remember earlier I mentioned how mama dogs and other puppies help train each other not to bite by letting out squeals when the bite is too strong. You are now taking that role and can do the same thing. If your puppy bites you, don’t tense up your hand, let it go limp, and offer a loud squeal.
The purpose of this is to let the puppy know you aren’t playing, and the squeal indicates pain. You may need to repeat this several times for the puppy to understand, but don’t overuse this method because it won’t be effective. It is important not to play through the pain of the bite. If you do this, it will reinforce the negative behavior.
Puppy time out
Just like a child, your puppy may need a time out. If he/she continues to bite, stop playing immediately and place them into their crate. While this may seem harsh, because they are so cute and cuddly, they need to understand the appropriate way to play. Taking the play away will help stop the biting. This will take consistency and may not have an effect until it has been done a few times, so the puppy understands.
It is important that when you put your puppy in time out that you don’t continue to communicate with him or her, or it will seem like the play is continuing.
How Do I Give a Puppy Time Out?
Instinctually, puppies love to play, and sometimes that play can get a bit rough. When this happens, a puppy time out needs to occur. A puppy time out is similar to a child’s time out. You will have a designated spot (the puppy’s crate or a separate room) that the puppy will be put in for a short time.
When putting the puppy in time out, do not interact with them until the time out is finished. They will soon realize when they play too rough that the playtime is over.
When taking the puppy out of time out, you can resume playing, but if it becomes rough again, it’s back to time out.
Redirect your puppy
Give your puppy a toy to chew on. If you notice the puppy going for your arm or hand, have a toy ready to put in their mouth. This will provide them with the lesson of only chewing on toys, not people.
Offer a distraction
Sometimes a puppy will become so hyper-focused on playing. They don’t realize how painful their bites are. Give them something appropriate to chew on the distract them from biting a hand or arm.
Deter the puppy
If other options don’t seem to be working, you may need to enlist the help of a deterrent spray. Deterrent sprays are made specifically to help puppies and dogs to stop biting. You can spray your hand, arm, or any object you don’t want chewed on. When the puppy bites it, they will receive a very bitter surprise.
When using a deterrent spray, it is important the puppy does not have access to water right away. If they can get the taste out of their mouth quickly, the spray will not be effective.
When you search for chew deterrent sprays, you will find many options, but there are three that stand above the rest.
Each of these items has different characteristics that may be more of a deterrent for your puppy. You may need to try different options until you find one that works best to curb your puppy’s enthusiasm to chew everything.
Provide positive reinforcement for good behavior with treats. If the puppy is playing without biting, offer treats. Be sure to choose treats that are appropriate for your puppy to ensure they stay healthy.
The search for puppy treats can be quite overwhelming when you are looking at all the recommendations and “natural” options. Some of the top-rated puppy treats are;
- Wellness Grain Free
- Milkbone Snacks
- Old Mother Hubbard Classic Crunchy Treats
- Zuke’s Natural Training Treats
While this list is far from exclusive, it is a great place to start when looking for treats to help train your puppy. Sometimes you will hear recommendations for using hotdogs or cheese for training purposes. While a vet is going to be the best person to talk to, I would caution you from providing too much human food to your puppy, especially early on.
Things to Remember as You Train Your Puppy
I have mentioned many different options to help support you as you help your puppy to learn not to bite inappropriately and given several products that may help you during the training phase. However, there are some other things you need to keep in mind as you are training your puppy not to bite.
- Be patient
- Your puppy is in a learning phase, and everything is new and interesting to him or her. It will take time for your puppy to learn appropriate behavior.
- Repetition will take you much further than yelling at your puppy. Yelling will cause them to become fearful and can increase the biting out of aggression.
- Be consistent
- If you want your puppy to stop a behavior or learn a new behavior, you have to be consistent with the training. Don’t allow the behavior you are trying to stop even one time. You want the puppy to understand what you expect.
- Take a few minutes each day to work on training your puppy. Their focus time is relatively short, so a few short training sessions a day will be effective
- Keep your puppy safe
- When training your puppy not to bite, make sure they are in a safe environment. If your puppy feels anxious or threatened, the biting behavior may begin to increase and turn to aggression.
- Keep commands simple
- It is important to keep command words consistent and short. If you want to use the command “no bite” or “stop,” make sure anyone that is in contact with the puppy uses the same command.
- When giving the command, provide a treat as soon as the puppy has obeyed. You will be giving a lot of treats initially, and that is okay.
- Socializing your puppy from a very young age is important for proper behavior development.
- When socializing your puppy, be sure to know they are in a safe situation with vaccinated puppies. Heading to the local dog park may not be the best idea to begin socialization because you don’t know the dogs they will meet.
- Set up puppy playdates with friends or find a doggy daycare.
You will notice the ideas listed above to help your biting puppy are all rooted in positive reinforcement. This is because physical punishment does not typically work. If you begin physically punishing your puppy for biting, you are risking the bond you are creating with your puppy.
Your puppy trusts you to care for and love him or her unconditionally, just as they will you. If you begin to attack your puppy physically, they won’t understand why and will begin to become reactive toward you.
Using physical punishment can have an opposite effect on your puppy and can cause your puppy to begin aggressive biting. Aggressive biting is much more severe than gentle nipping and mouthing. Aggressive biting is dangerous and can cause serious injury.
What if My Puppy Won’t Stop Biting?
If you have tried and exhausted all options and have given training a fair chance to work, it may be time to enlist the help of a certified dog trainer. A dog trainer will be able to assess your puppy and determine where the biting behavior is coming from, meaning is it aggression or normal puppy behavior.
After evaluation they will be able to guide you in the next best steps to adequately train your puppy and curb the biting behavior before it becomes problematic.
Puppies are so much fun to care for and watch grow. They will become your lifelong friends and they will depend on you just as much as you depend on them. Take the time to properly train your puppy, so their biting behaviors don’t interfere with the bond and memories you are making with them.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.