Bite Inhibition is one of the most important things your puppy must learn to become a well-trained, respectable dog. Bite inhibition is a learned response in which your dog will consciously inhibit the full force of his biting ability. Without learning bite inhibition a dog can severely injure or even possibly kill another dog or even a child.
Puppies learn bite inhibition during the socialization of nursing and playing. If a puppy bites while nursing the mother dog will get up and walk away. If the puppy bites too hard while playing with his littermates, the bitten puppy will yelp and stop playing with the biting puppy. This teaches the puppy that all playing must stop if he bites too hard.
A puppy should learn bite inhibition by the time he is four and a half months of age. Since many puppies are taken from their mothers and other littermates before this time, it becomes necessary for the new owners to take over the role of teaching bite inhibition.When you are teaching your puppy bite inhibition treat him as his mother and his littermates would. When he bites too hard, get up and walk away, make sure he knows that when he bites too hard all play must stop.
Some ideas you can use to teach bite inhibition are
Sit down and start playing with your puppy. Bring his attention to your hands. When your puppy starts to bite your hands too hard say “Ow” firmly and stop playing and stop all interaction. Do not look at your puppy but avert your eyes to the side away from your pup. He needs to know that you are serious about stopping the play.
Make sure that your response is short and firm. If you whine or wince your puppy may think that you are still playing and you have defeated your purpose.
After some time has passed, face your pup again and offer your hand if he tries to bite again, repeat the process.
If your puppy is just nipping at you or your clothes you can offer a toy to chew on. If he is not interested in the toy but keeps on nipping, you should withdraw all attention. You can even walk away.
As you practice this, your puppy should be using less and less pressure as he is playing with you. Your first goal should be to inhibit the force of his bite and then to reduce the frequency of his bite. If he is never allowed to use even a light bite, when faced with a situation of stress he will probably react with a overly strong bite and could hurt someone unintentionally.
Bite Inhibition is an important part of training and socializing your dog. It is easier to teach a puppy bite inhibition but even older dogs can learn with some patience and good training.