How To Stop My Golden Retriever Puppy From Biting

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Written by Cory Eckert

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Golden retriever puppies are known to be lovable, full of energy, eager to please, and usually have a gentle temperament.  As with all puppies, they need to learn at an early age what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, especially in regards to biting. 

Puppies learn about biting right from birth, with their mother being their first teacher.  She lets them know how rough is too rough during nursing and playing.  Pups also learn about biting from their siblings often responding with high pitched yelps if bites are too hard.

It’s important to start training your golden retriever puppy about unacceptable biting as soon as possible.  This will also help prevent aggression and dominance issues in later years.


Techniques to stop biting


There are various views on how to stop a puppy from biting, but all agree that the most necessary and important steps are consistency and patience if you want to succeed.  

Here are several techniques to consider when training your pup to stop biting. These are listed in order of best to worst (in our opinion). 


#1 - The Ouchie Technique

  • When your puppy bites at you, respond by yelling “ouch” in a loud, high pitch voice. 
  • Stop all play and/or activity with the pup for a few minutes.

This simulates the sound and behavior another puppy would use if hurt by a bite that’s too hard and is the closest way to how a puppy learns to not bite naturally with their litter mates.

Since you broke their attention (which made them let go) and stopped playing (took away the positive association), this method tends to work very quickly and you should notice a change pretty fast.


#2 - Talk to the Back Technique


  • Pups need to understand that biting ends playtime.  Be aware of when your pup tends to bite.
  • When your pup bites, say “no” or “no biting” firmly.
  • Removing your attention whether by turning your back to the pup or placing them in their crate has wide approval.
  • When your pup calms down, give him attention by continuing with play.
  • Be consistent and continue with this technique whenever your pup tries to bite, eventually your pup will learn that biting means no playtime!

This method helps your puppy understand that biting = no play. Our puppies are very smart and it won’t be long before they catch on and start to understand.


#3 - Shake The Can Technique

  • Your pup needs to learn the word “no” and that it is associated with unacceptable behavior.
  • This technique is fast, easy and non-threatening.
  • Empty a can of soda or pop, rinse with water, drop coins in the can and seal the opening with duct tape.
  • When the pup is doing something unacceptable, tell the pup “no”.  If he still continues the behavior, shake the can and repeat the word “no”.
  • Your pup will stop to see what the new noise is.  If your pup returns to his unacceptable behavior, repeat saying “no” while shaking the can.
  • Your pup will learn that “no” means to stop what he is doing.  And within a short time your pup will respond to “no” without the shaking of the can.

This method works by breaking the puppies attention (gets them to stop biting) and associates the word no with something they don’t really enjoy (a noisy can).


#4 - Distracting Toy Technique 

(we don’t recommend)


Replacing what you do NOT want the puppy to chew on with something that is acceptable to chew on is a common method to help break puppies from chewing furniture, shoes, and other items. The same method is sometimes used with biting but if done incorrectly, this could backfire. Here’s how it works…

  • Be aware of the times and activities that cause your pup to bite.
  • Carry one of your pup’s favorite toys with you when you play with him.
  • If your pup bites, say “no”, wait a few moments and offer him his favorite toy instead of your hand.
  • Be consistent, each time your pup bites, offer him the toy to chew on.  Your pup will learn that it is more fun to play and bite his toy than you!

The reason we say this method could backfire when used for biting is this… if your timing is off and you give your puppy their favorite toy each time they bite you, you may inadvertently be rewarding the biting behavior!


#5 - Bitter Anti-Chew Spray Technique (we don’t recommend)


We do not recommend this method. We included it on this post because it seems to have gained popularity and it is a method that is being used today.

While we do recognize that anti-chew spray works well for inanimate objects, we do not recommend using it on your hands. The last thing we want is to condition a puppy to associate a negative feeling with our hands.

That said, here’s how this one works as reported by those who use it…

  • Note when your pup tends to bite and be prepared to address it.
  • Purchase a bitter taste anti-chew spray that is dog friendly or make one yourself.
  • When your puppy bites, the bitter taste should dissuade your pup from repeating the action and immediately saying “no” will reinforce it. 
  • Be consistent and use the spray for two weeks to a month, your pup will learn that biting is not fun!

Your pup needs to know what they can bite on and what is acceptable.  Rewarding good behavior, ignoring bad behavior or distracting from bad behavior with positive items such as tasty treats, praises and petting helps to reinforce acceptable behavior. 



If you have been consistent and none of these methods seem to work, working with a professional trainer may be another option or make sure that your pup does not have a medical issue that is triggering this type of behavior.

Warnings


Never forget you are working with a toddler and each moment is a teaching moment. For some, if a dog bites, it can be tempting to lash out, flick the pup on the nose, give em a swat, or turn them over and hold them down to show them “you are the boss”… Please don’t do these things, you may not hurt your puppy but you are certainly sending the wrong message.

  • Remember to never hit your pup - This may cause him to bite harder, play more aggressively, and even develop a fear of your hands.
  • Never flip your pup on his back or side - Your puppy knows you are the boss because you feed him. Showing dominance in a negative way may cause the pup to become aggressive. Besides, positive reinforcement works so much better and helps form a much stronger bond.
  • Do not jerk your hand away - It’s a natural reaction and can do more harm than good. First, the act of pulling away is going to drag your skin thru their teeth. Puppy teeth are amazingly sharp. Second, the pup may think it is a game of tug-of-war which could result in a painful experience on both sides.

Tips and Reminders

Remember to start training your pup early! Be consistent, patient and reward appropriate behavior.  Your pup wants to please you!  Play and walk your pup - he has a lot of energy and the more tired he is the happier he will be.  


Expose him to other puppies so that he can learn how to interact and know what is appropriate behavior (after he has all his shots).  If you have children, supervise them when they are around the pup - show them what is acceptable behavior.  This pup is now a part of the family!



Did we miss any methods? We’d love to hear how you stop your puppy from biting or if you had success with one of the above methods. Leave us a comment below and let us know!

About the author

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Cory Eckert

Cory is the co-creator of GoldenRetrieverLove.com and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).

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