Why does my pup keep biting my feet?

Answered by Jason Smith

The behavior of puppies biting feet is quite common and can have several underlying reasons. Understanding why your pup is doing this can help you address the issue appropriately.

1. Teething: Puppies, like human babies, go through a teething phase. During this time, their baby teeth start to fall out, making way for their adult teeth. The discomfort of teething can make them chew on anything they can find, including your feet. It provides them relief and helps their new teeth break through the gums.

2. Exploration: Puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them. Just like human babies put everything in their mouths, puppies use their teeth to learn about objects and textures. Your feet may seem like an interesting and easily accessible target for their exploration.

3. Play and attention-seeking: Puppies are social creatures, and one way they engage with their owners is through play. Biting may be a form of play for them, and if they notice that biting your feet gets a reaction from you, such as attention or playtime, they may continue the behavior to seek that interaction.

4. Lack of proper play outlets: Puppies have a lot of energy and need appropriate outlets to expend it. If they don’t have enough toys or playtime, they may resort to biting your feet as a way to release their energy and stimulate themselves.

5. Herding instinct: Some breeds, such as herding breeds, have a natural herding instinct. They might nip or bite at your feet as a way to try and control your movements, mimicking their natural behavior of herding livestock. This behavior can be more prevalent in certain breeds, but can also be seen in mixed breed dogs.

Now that you understand the root of the behavior, you can take steps to address it:

1. Provide appropriate chew toys: Make sure your pup has a variety of safe and durable chew toys to redirect their biting behavior. Offer these toys whenever they start biting your feet, and praise them when they choose the toys instead.

2. Encourage play with other dogs: If possible, arrange playdates with other well-socialized and vaccinated dogs. This will not only provide your pup with an outlet for their energy but also teach them appropriate play behavior and bite inhibition.

3. Use positive reinforcement: Whenever your pup redirects their biting behavior to appropriate toys or stops biting altogether, reward them with treats or praise. This positive reinforcement will help them understand what behaviors are desirable.

4. Avoid rough play: While play is important, avoid any rough play that involves your hands or feet. This can confuse your pup and reinforce the idea that biting is acceptable during playtime.

5. Consistency and patience: Changing behavior takes time and consistency. Be patient with your pup as they learn what is acceptable and what is not. Consistently redirect their biting behavior to appropriate toys and provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Remember, it’s essential to address this behavior early on to prevent it from becoming a habit or escalating into more aggressive biting. If the behavior persists or becomes concerning, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for further guidance.