Although it may be cute when your puppy is mouthing at your hand, the older it gets, the more teeth they grow and the harder the biting becomes. If it is time to ‘nip’ your Cavapoo’s biting in the bud, then here are some top tips to follow.
Nipping is normal puppy behavior, but you can train your Cavapoo to stop biting through reducing their bite pressure and redirecting their gnawing focus. Follow our guide on how to train your Cavapoo not to bite, by learning some nice mouth manners.
So far we have been lucky with our Cavapoo Rosie, in that she has fitted in really well with our family and lifestyle. Likewise, we have adjusted to her personality. We now know when she wants to play, how to control her boisterous moments, what to do when she starts to become mouthy and what her affectionate growling means.
In order to teach her to stop mouthing and biting, we had to be firm in our approach and employ a few simple methods. Here we explain more.
How to stop your puppy from biting
Biting is part of the course of owning a puppy. It is a natural instinct and is often used to release the pressure of puppy teething, to help explore the world around them or to increase happy endorphins to the brain.
It is really important to understand that it is almost impossible to train a dog not to bite overnight, although you can teach it to decrease its bite pressure and ultimately redivert your puppy’s bite attention onto something else.
How to decrease your puppy’s bite pressure
The reason you want to decrease the bite pressure in the first instance is so that you do not confuse your dog. You want them to know that you understand play biting is fun but only when it is done in a controlled manner.
Skin is sensitive and we want our dogs to understand the concept of being gentle. The easiest way to do this is to use a word such as ‘ouch’ or make a high pitched noise that alerts your dog when they are biting too hard. This prompt should stop them in their tracks for a few seconds.
This alert is something that your Cavapoo would have already experienced when play-fighting and pouncing with their siblings. All you are doing is simply replicating an already learnt behavior, that lets your puppy know that the playing was too rough.
If you do this each time they bite your hand, ankle or feet too hard, then your puppy will soon understand what acceptable biting is and what is not. Remember to praise your puppy each time they stop or decide to lick you instead.
Teaching your Cavapoo some mouth manners
Once you have taught your puppy about reducing bite pressure the next step is to teach your puppy not to bite you at all! Fingers and feet are great for your Cavapoos to chew as they are the perfect texture. Squidgy but firm and easy to grip.
Ideally, you want to redirect your puppy away from your feet and to a chew or toy instead! Therefore make sure you have a substitute to hand which you can place in their mouth every time they lunge at you.
If they forget (as naughty pups do), simply walk away. After a short time-out, return to your puppy and encourage them to continue to play again. It is really important that your Cavapoo understands that gentle play means they get to continue, but painful play makes everything immediately stop.
Top tips for training your Cavapoo not to bite
If you are trying to keep play biting to a minimum, then there are certain rules that you should follow:
- Do not handle your Cavapoo when they are overstimulated. Puppies rarely listen when they are overly excited and if you try to prevent the zoomies by picking them up, then the first thing they will try and do is fight you to get down. Only reward your puppy with treats, praise and play when they are relaxed.
- If your puppy forgets that your hand is for stroking and takes a nip, walk away. Puppies learn through consequences, but rather than yelling or telling them off, strolling away gives them time to understand what they did wrong.
- Substitute body parts for toys and chews. Every dog has a natural instinct to gnaw and we do not want to prevent this, rather redirect their chewing habits onto something far more appropriate. So swap your cables, carpets and leg calves for cuddly toys, stuffed Kongs and pet-friendly chews. This allows you to be in control of the biting. For more inspiration on the best toys for Cavapoos, check out our list of accessories from Amazon.
- Use non-contact forms of play such as tug of war or fetch, as this will distract your puppy and refocus their attention elsewhere.
- Use a special sound or word that grabs your dog’s attention and prevents them from biting. Therefore when your puppy goes to bite you or your furniture you can interrupt them with a noise that instantly signifies that something better is about to happen (namely a treat).
- Take them on regular walks to the park. Often dogs start to bite when they are bored or overexcited and need to burn off mental and physical energy.
- Provide plenty of opportunities for your puppy to play with other vaccinated puppies. Playing and socializing with dog friends is important for your puppy’s development—and if they spend their energy frolicking with other dogs, they will feel less motivated to play roughly with you.
- It is also claimed that by spaying or neutering your dog will help to reduce the risk of bite-related behaviors, due to a decrease in hormones. There is, however, no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after being spayed as it is largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology, and history.
Above all please be patient and understanding with your puppy. Playful mouthing is normal behavior for young dogs and they will not respond well to negative training such as slapping and shouting.
What age does a puppy stop biting?
Play biting may hurt but you need to remember that it won’t last forever. Most of the time the biting will correlate with your Cavapoo teething and once they lose all their puppy teeth and grow new adult ones, at around 6-9 months, the biting should stop or at least subside.
The most important thing is to avoid getting upset and annoyed with your dog or resorting to punishments as this will only confuse your Cavapoo and could damage your relationship down the road.
What to do if your dog does not stop biting
As mentioned above most puppies’ mouth as a form of play or to relieve the pressure of teething, but some dogs may snap if they forced to do something they do not like or if they are scared.
You should be able to pick up on the signals that your Cavapoo will give off if they are feeling frustrated. Instead of a relaxed body, they may stiffen or freeze, and their tail will almost certainly stop wagging. Your dog may also pull back their ears and their lips will expose their teeth. In some instances, they may even growl.
Each day about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for serious dog bite injuries. Children are the most common casualties, with half of all bite wound victims being under the age of thirteen and most are as a result of having interacted with familiar dogs. The UK has also seen a rise in dog related hospital admissions to around 8,000 bite injuries a year. Here are some recent studies showing dog bite statistics in the US and dog bite injuries in the UK.
It is important to understand that any dog, no matter how cute or calm it temperament appears, has the ability to bite and is capable of causing significant damage. Therefore, we should always be aware of this when we are interacting with our Cavapoos.
If your dog is giving you warnings that they are unhappy, then you should remove them from their current situation immediately. If you are out and about then hold them away from your face but in a tight grip, without constriction, until they have stopped struggling and have calmed down. If you are at home, then place your dog in a quiet space, such as their crate so that they are away from harm.
If your dog follows through with an aggressive bite then it is likely to be much more painful than normal mouthing that happens during play. This is not acceptable behavior and if the steps above fail to be effective, then you may need to seek assistance from a professional dog training expert. Muzzles may also need to be worn if you are out and about around people and other dogs.
If you can start teaching your Cavapoo how to control their biting from the first day you collect them, then these simple methods will soon take effect. But remember, puppies are playful and providing they are encouraged to pounce, frolic and run around in a positive and controlled way, then they will soon learn good mouth manners that you can be proud of.