Biting And Mouthing

Why does my young pet bite me?

When puppies and kittens bite, they may think they’re just playing. Young animals often wrestle and bite each other as a game. However, this type of play can be painful for human skin.
When young animals are with their littermates, they learn how hard or soft to bite while playing. They condition each other through yelping when bitten too hard. The game will stop and only continue once their sibling plays softer.
Controlling how rough your young pet plays when they are a puppy or kitten is vital. Rough play may not hurt when they’re very little, but it could be a dangerous habit as they grow.

Tips to encourage safe play

  • you initiate play – not your pet
  • you decide what games to play
  • opt for games that don’t involve biting like hide and seek, ball chasing or tug toys
  • control the level of excitement in play. Never allow it to get out of control. Stop the play before it does
  • give your young pet a chew toy to mouth while you play
  • if biting/mouthing does become uncontrolled, you need to let your pet know by:
    • ceasing play immediately
    • don’t touch or make eye contact
    • If they persist or comes back to bite again, you need to leave the room and leave your pet alone/socially excluded
    • return to play only when your pet has calmed and is no longer biting
    • if they return to biting, repeat the process again

Consistent responses from all people who play with the pet will ensure they learn quickly. Never punish your pet physically. This will only excite them further and result in aggression or anxiety, which will increase rough play and aggression. Positive reinforcement for good behaviour is always the best way to train your pet. Speak with your local Greencross Vets for advice and guidance on how to best train your young pet. Our Puppy School is also designed to encourage good manners in puppies from a young age.