Puppies. Is there anything cuter? Puppy teeth. Is there anything sharper? At the time of writing this post I have a 15 week old American Bully puppy. Potty training, basic obedience, and learning manners are a big part of our daily routine. Biting and chewing is also a big part of our daily routine.
How do I get my American Bully puppy to stop biting? There are several techniques including redirection, distraction, emulation, socialization, exercise and deterrence. These techniques are the best methods to get your American Bully to stop biting you and learn what to do with their mouth instead.
In the past 3-4 weeks that I have had my American Bully puppy at home I have had to use all of these techniques. Repetition is going to be key, along with a lot of patience. But trust me when I say they work. My puppy Chester has slowly begun to understand that biting, nipping, and chewing on me and certain things is unwanted behavior.
Stick around and I will share the approach I have been taking and how it has worked for me. You can get your American Bully puppy to stop biting. Just follow some of these helpful tips, and keep your cool. Let’s dig in!
How Do I Get My American Bully Puppy To Stop Biting?
American Bully puppies learn much about the world through using their mouth. Biting, chewing, nipping, and essentially putting everything in their mouth is 100% natural behavior. The goal is to guide the behavior properly and manage their teething phase as best we can.
Understanding that your puppy is exploring as well as soothing their sore gums is the first step to making progress. You must remain patient with your puppy as they learn and grow. Using these techniques below in a consistent way, while keeping your cool, will help tremendously with getting your American Bully puppy to stop biting.
Redirection is the technique I use most often with my American Bully puppy Chester. The good thing about puppies is that everything is still interesting. Redirecting their attention away from biting your hand, shirt, pants, shoes, or the couch is rather simple and easy.
Keep a good variety of treats and toys handy wherever you are in the home. When your puppy begins to bite on something, or someone, they shouldn’t quickly get their attention with a treat or toy. Work in an impromptu training session, or reward them with a toy to play with.
I keep my puppy in my office during the day as I work. Oftentimes he will get bored and that is when he gets the nibbles and chomps as I call them. By keeping a bowl of treats and a couple of his favorite toys handy I am able to easily redirect right away.
Distraction is very similar to redirection, but a little more proactive. This technique allows you to manage your American Bully puppy’s focus either before, or just as they begin biting. With this method I like to use frozen Kong toys, his favorite Benebone chew, or my homemade frozen treat wrap.
By providing my American Bully with an activity like working on a frozen Kong I can distract his attention away from biting me and other unwanted things. Keeping his brain stimulated and focused on getting the treats out of the Kong, or really working on his Benebone will distract him away from nipping and biting. This also drains a good amount of energy so they are less likely to keep biting once they have finished the activity.
I keep 3 frozen Kongs ready at all times. They are my go-to when Chester wakes up and has that puppy demon look in his eyes that I know means he is looking to chew on something. Distracting him before he begins chewing has been very successful so far.
When puppies play and one bites the other too hard they yelp. This teaches your puppy what level of play is too much. You can emulate this yourself if your puppy begins to bite you by letting out a high pitch yelp yourself.
This might seem silly, but it really does work. I have done it a couple times when I was not able to reach a toy, chew or treat fast enough. The yelp almost startles the puppy and they do stop right away, most of the time.
Give this technique a shot. When your puppy realizes that they have hurt you they will be less likely to bite you in the future, or at least learn that they are being too rough.
Socializing your puppy with other puppies and dogs is one of the best ways they can learn. Dogs all play with their mouths and learn what level of play is too rough from each other. Just like I mentioned in the emulation method above.
Getting your American Bully puppy around other dogs to play and socialize is a great way for them to learn. Setup play dates with your friends, families and neighbors to give your puppy the opportunity to interact with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment.
When my American Bully Chester is particularly mouthy and relentless with his attempts to bite, nibble and chomp me, I know it’s due to lack of exercise. All the distractions and redirections in the world will only last a few minutes when he hasn’t had a chance to get some exercise.
He is still a puppy and the length and intensity or our walks is limited at this time. It’s important not to push puppies too hard on walks when they are young, but a slow meandering walk can be great. This lets them burn off some crazy puppy energy through walking, sniffing and observing the world around them.
I also like to work in training and indoor fetch games when he is needing some exercise. Mental exercise like trick training can drain a lot of energy. Working a game of fetch in your hallway or living is also very useful physically and mentally.
Fetch will let them run, chew on the toy or ball, and allow you to work in some training like come and drop/release. Chester loves this game and his attempts to bite and nibble are cut down to zero after exercise like this. Never underestimate the power of some physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Deterrence can be used when your American Bully puppy is constantly going to chew things they aren’t supposed to. For my American Bully puppy it is my work desk legs. He will get bored of the toy I gave him to redirect, the Kong I used to distract is done, and I have a meeting in 5 minutes, so exercise will have to wait.
Using a deterrence can be effective with some dogs. I have had mixed success, and use this as a last resort, but it can be a good trick to keep on hand. I mix up a 50/50 of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar and apply it to the surface of whatever Chester is looking to chew.
Most of the time this works. The smell and taste is a deterrent from further chewing. I have applied this method a few times with about an 80% success rate. Sometimes Chester is just determined to chew and doesn’t really care about the vinegar mix. Other times he is completely turned off and goes back to his Benebone or toy.
Ignore But Never Use Punishment
Ignoring your puppy when they bite your hand or clothing is a very effective teaching method. This shows your dog that by biting you they no longer receive attention they crave. Action = Consequence.
I use this technique when I am relaxing with Chester on the couch petting him. Occasionally he decides it’s a good idea to nibble or bite on the hand I am petting him with. Immediately I stop and completely ignore him. If he persists I get up and walk away. Ending any petting or play that was happening.
This is a very effective technique and is as far as punishment goes for Chester. Not getting any attention is a consequence he does not enjoy. Some people suggest pinching their jaw, flicking their nose, or some other form of physical correction. This is ineffective for a couple reasons.
One, the puppy does not understand the correction most of the time, and you are also not addressing what they should be doing with their mouth. Puppies can’t help but use their mouth on things. This is how they discover and learn about the world around them. It’s also how they soothe their sore gums from teething.
Secondly, by using a form of physical punishment you can develop some unwanted behaviors and associations down the road. If you puppy learns that hands near the face equals pain, then inspecting their teeth for cleaning, trips to the vet, etc.. will become an issue.
How Long Do American Bullies Teeth For?
On average American Bullies will teeth for as long as 6-8 months. Teething typically begins around the age of 2 weeks old when their baby teeth are coming in, and will end once the adult teeth are all present around 8 months old.
During this time period puppies will be wanting to chew on everything. This is totally natural for a teething American Bully puppy. Give them some good rubbery chew toys, frozen kongs, and other durable toys to help soothe their sore gums.
At What Age Do Puppies Stop Biting?
As a general rule puppies will stop biting between the age of 6-8 months. Sometimes sooner if you have been working with them through methods such as redirecting, distracting, emulating and exercise. Applying these techniques can shorten the time frame that biting occurs.
Your puppy will be teething for the first 8 months of their life, but proper training can avert them biting you. If your puppy is biting you relentlessly, and continues to do so past the age of 8 months, additional training may be required.
Consult with a professional if your puppy is aggressively biting, or biting persists well past the teething phase of their life. Behavioral and/or potential health problems could be at play.
What Age Do Puppies Bite The Most?
As a whole puppies will bite the most between the age of 2-6 months when they are in the middle of teething and have yet to learn manners. A puppy’s gums will be very sore during this time and they will find ways to soothe themselves. Proper redirection, distractions, and socialization can all help.
Be patient with your puppy at this stage in your life. Consistency of applying the techniques mentioned above can make this stage much easier for both you and your dog. Afterall this is just a phase and once they have their adult teeth, the need to bite, chew, nibble, and chomp will fall off considerably.
I wrote this article because I know what you might be going through as an American Bully owner. Currently I am living this phase of their life. Much of what I have written is also a reminder to myself that this is just a phase and with consistency in my approach, and the patience to endure, my Chester will stop biting.
As I type out these closing lines I look down at my hands and am reminded of those puppy teeth from the tiny pokes and scraps I have currently. This phase can be frustrating. But I have trust in my process. I have done this with my Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ruby before with great results.
Even now, only a few weeks in with my 15 week old American Bully puppy I am getting great results. Someday it feels like one step forward, two steps back, but the techniques I have talked about ARE working.
Hang in there my friends. Be patient. Keep consistent. Get the right toys, chews and treats, and everything will work out in a few months.