My Puppy Won’t Stop Biting My Pant Legs!

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Question:

My puppy is constantly biting my pant legs. What can I do?

Answer:

Biting everything that moves is normal puppy behavior but that does not mean it is fun to live with.

Puppies explore their world with their mouths, just as toddlers touch everything they can reach with their hands. So it makes perfect sense that your pants would not escape your pup’s curiosity.

So what can you do?

Here are some solutions:

  • Meet your pup’s need to bite soft objects. Give your puppy plenty of “legal” objects (sturdy fabric toys made for dogs) to bite instead of your pants.
  • Take humane control of your pup’s environment to prevent pants munching. This means using a combination of baby gates, safe (supervised) tethering and teaching your pup to settle in a crate so you can use these tools for brief “time outs” when necessary.
  • Teach your puppy that it is fun to behave differently (Sit to greet or touching his nose to your hand, for example). Be sure to pick new behaviors which are incompatible with biting pants
  • Create a consistent, two pronged sequence when your pup is in a pants biting mood.
  • Pup bites pants.
  • Give pup a warning cue. “Off limits” might work because you’ll remember it!

Pup now has two options: Accept a redirect (your desired option) or continue biting pants (which will result in a brief loss of social attention (a “time out”).

  • Offer your pup a soft dog toy to bite instead of your pants.
  • If your pup bites the toy or leaves your pants alone, great. No further action needed.
  • If your pup ignores the toy and instead of choosing to leave your pants alone goes to bite them again instead, give your pup a Time Out cue, then remove yourself from your pup’s reach.

Example:

“Sorry! Got to go now!” Leave the gated room, move out of range of the tether or gently place your pup in his or her crate.

  • Wait 20 seconds to 2 minutes for your pup to calm. Then approach your pup and try again.

The sounds or words you use for the warning cue and the time out cue do not matter so long as a) they do not scare your puppy and b) you use the same word or sound every time and so does everyone else who handles your pup. Consistent patterns and cues make learning easy.

You may need to repeat the bite-warn-time out-repeat process several times before your puppy perceives the very predictable pattern that the way to win (keep you around) is to either not bite your pants or to bite the toy instead of your pants when given the chance. But, in my experience, if your efforts are consistent and clear, they do catch on eventually!

Last but not least, make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise and sufficient opportunity for “puppy crazy time.” You may find that the pants biting activity peaks at dawn and dusk. Some puppies need to be left alone in a dog safe area for a while at peak activity times early in the morning and again in the late afternoon or early evening so they can “go nuts” by themselves, tossing toys, chewing bones and playing until they fall asleep in an adorable heap.

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