The main ways a puppy will play with another dog or puppy are chasing, wrestling, and biting. When your puppy eventually becomes separated from his litter mates, he will most likely carry on his playful behavior with you and your family members. This is often the cause for most puppies trying to bite our hands, or clothing. This behavior usually happens when your puppy is excited and wants to play, rather than a sign of aggression.
You see, to your new puppy, play biting is a very exciting game. Usually when we humans are bitten by a puppy we squeal and pull away. But to your puppy, this makes the whole thing even more exciting, and makes him want to chase us. This might not be a huge problem now, but if your puppy continues the same behavior until adulthood, his bites will become more painful, and could cause us bruising, even though he only means to be playful.
Some breeds of puppy are more likely to play bite than others. Terriers are often more likely to play bite, as they like to play rough with their litter mates when they are young. Some breeds of puppy (particularly bull breeds) tend to bite harder when they play bite due to them having stronger jaws. Some puppies also learn to bite harder from playing rough when they were litter mates.
These breeds of dog play rougher due to them being slightly more insensitive to pain, so it doesn’t hurt much when they play rough with each other. Children are often more likely to be play bitten by puppies, as they have higher pitched voices which excite and encourage your puppy. Children tend to be more actively and lively to your puppy as well, which makes them a more interesting target for chasing.
Seeing as your puppy play bites when he wants to play, it’s a good idea to have a toy nearby when he wants to play. This will give him something else to focus his playful attention on, instead of rough and tumble games he would have played with his littermates. Remember to keep yourself still, and the toy moving, this will mean he will play with the toy, instead of your moving arms, hands, or legs.
If your puppy still tries to bite you hard, attract him with the toy more. If he still persists, yelp loudly to give him a shock. This will show him that he is playing to rough, and shouldn’t be biting you hard. If he still continues this behavior you should stop the game and walk away each time he bites you.
It’s important to remember that you dog needs to be having fun playing with the toy – that is, more fun than he gets from biting you! If it’s more rewarding to play with the toy than to bite, he is more likely to stick to playing with the toy.