It is not unusual for Great Dane puppies to bite and mouth their owners when playing. If you have more than one puppy you will likely notice that they do the same to each other. While it might be cute when they are puppies, it is important to put this behavior in check while they are young. As your Great Dane grows those adorable little nips and nibbles can become painful bites and can lead to unwanted behaviors.
UNDERSTANDING WHY YOUR PUPPY BITES
Dogs may bite for a variety of reasons and it is important to understand why your Great Dane is biting in order to tailor your response appropriately. Most biting and mouthing is perfectly normal, but all biting needs to be discouraged to avoid unwanted behaviors later in life.
When they are puppies biting is usually playful. Most puppies interact with their littermates with sometimes rough physical play; they will paw, nip, wrestle, and bite each other, sometimes for hours on end. This is typical behavior for puppies and helps them to develop muscles, agility, and reflexes. Oftentimes, when your puppy mouths your hand it is in an effort to get you to play.
While playing is important for your puppy’s physical development, biting does not need to be part of playtime. As your Dane grows (and grow they will) those playful nips and bites can cause some serious damage. They may still just be playing, but they do not understand their own size and strength.
If your puppy likes to nip and bite while playing with you, the best way to stop it is with negative feedback. We’re not talking about yelling at or scolding your Great Dane, we are talking about the same type of negative feedback a littermate might give if bitten too hard.
When playtime between sibling puppies becomes too rough and one puppy gets bit a little too hard, he will yelp or cry and turn away. This communicates to the ruffian that the bite hurt and playtime is over.
When your pup bites during playtime try yelping and pulling away. You may find that this behavior is confusing for your Dane at first, but over time he will realize that his biting is causing you pain. The key is to be consistent in your reaction every time he bites and eventually he will stop biting and may even offer an apology with a nuzzle.
Another reason that puppies bite is because they are teething. As your Dane’s adult teeth begin to grow in their gums become sensitive and chewing helps to relieve some of the discomfort they are experiencing. This is a very natural behavior that is seen in virtually all animals.
Teething is a reaction to oral discomfort and we certainly don’t want our furry little friend to be uncomfortable. To help your puppy manage the pain and discomfort of teething provide them with safe alternatives. Instead of letting your pup chew on your hand give him a plush toy to sink his teeth into. You may want to provide a variety of chew toys with varying degrees of hardness. Every puppy is different and while some may prefer a soft stuffed animal, others will prefer a pliable rubber or hard rubber toy.
Most puppies are not aggressive. If your Dane is showing signs of aggression it is essential that you determine the cause of this behavior. Some animals are overly protective of their food, toys, or favorite human. Aggression can also be a sign of some unseen medical condition or unrecognized pain. For some pups, fear is the driving force behind their aggressive behavior. Regardless of the reason, aggression is no joke and a trip to the vet is the best way to determine why your pup is acting out in an aggressive way.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for aggressive behavior. The first step toward resolution is determining the cause and your veterinarian can help you to narrow it down. As long as there are not any genetic or neurological disorders, the behavior can likely be corrected with proper training and socialization.
Positive reinforcement and punishment-free obedience training can help your pup develop better social skills and can reduce aggressive tendencies. The key is to address aggression early on. You do not want a 200 lb. Great Dane with aggressive tendencies.
Most biting and nipping behavior in puppies is perfectly natural, but it is important to keep the behavior in check before they get older. Your Dane will likely be a very large animal and even a playful bite from a full-grown Dane can cause serious injury. Nip the biting in the bud early on and everyone will be happier in the long run.