Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together

By Susan Smith, East Valley Dog Training

Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted.

How do you stop an 11wk old Chihuahua from biting you all the time?

LOL! Aren’t puppies fun? I think we’ve had a previous question on this topic, and the short answer is – you don’t. Puppies bite; puppies are designed to bite; puppies have to bite. One reason puppies bite, which most people are not aware of, is to develop bite inhibition.

In a litter, when puppies are old enough to start playing, they bite their littermates; if they bite too hard, the littermate will stop playing with the biter. When nursing, they’ll bite their mother; if they bite her too hard, she’ll either correct them or get up and move away. This is very valuable information for the puppy, because he learns that if he bites too hard, good things go away.

The purpose of this education is to keep him from doing serious harm when he’s an adult and is in a situation where he feels he must bite. This early training is the difference between a dog that does a simple in-and-out puncture wound and a dog that sends you to the hospital for stitches, or worse.

So, back to the original questions, you should allow puppies to do some biting. If it gets too painful, just get up and walk away; you can also redirect them to a chew toy. As he learns to inhibit his bite, move away more often – begin weaning him from biting. By the time he’s got his adult teeth (between 4½-5½ months), he should no longer be putting his teeth on people without invitation. You should continue to work with him over the years, as this is a skill and skills need practice to be maintained. I roughhouse with my dogs in the winter when I’m wearing long-sleeved sweatshirts.

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to:

Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at:

Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.