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Yorkie puppies are some of the sweetest, most energetic puppies around but like all puppies, they’re fairly prone to biting or mouthing. This is normal to a certain extent but when the frequency or the force of the biting becomes excessive you may need to take action.
How do you stop a Yorkie puppy from biting? To stop Yorkie puppies from biting, begin training as soon as possible. Give them an audible signal that it is painful when they bite you and remove yourself from the situation immediately. Only return after a few minutes if they have calmed down.
While the above method is probably the most effective of the methods I will share, there is a delicate balance you have to reach between nurturing your pup’s playfulness and training them out of aggressive tendencies. Read on to learn six methods to ensure biting doesn’t continue into adulthood along with seven specific reasons Yorkie puppies bite and how they may affect your training approach.
6 Methods to Stop Your Yorkie Puppy from Biting
All puppies are likely to be caught biting at some point. It isn’t something that they can particularly hold back from as it’s part of how they naturally play and learn the world around them.
In most cases, Yorkie puppies that gently bite or mouth their owners from time to time are just exploring or simply comforting themselves while teething.
This behavior can usually be disregarded as most of the time they will stop biting on their own as they grow older.
However, puppies with excessive, territorial, or even aggressive biting habits need to have these behaviors addressed before they reach adulthood when they may cause more serious harm.
#1 Socialize Your Puppy
Socialization is key in teaching dogs how to behave around other dogs and people.
For breeds such as Yorkies that are often fairly anti-social around other dogs, this is especially critical.
The best time to socialize Yorkies is when they are very young. A Yorkie’s key developmental stage for socialization is between the age of three and twelve weeks old.
This is why leaving their mother and the rest of the litter too early can be extremely detrimental to a puppy’s social well-being and mental stability. Please see my article on this subject for more detail here.
While it is most effective to socialize your Yorkie at this young age, do not feel like you have completely missed the boat if your Yorkie is a bit older.
Socialization can still be reasonably effective even for grown dogs but especially if your dog is still growing and developing.
Socialization for dogs involves meeting and interacting with as many new people and other animals as possible in as many different situations as possible.
This is especially important for dogs that are kept in homes with no other pets and no children as isolation often breeds fear and anxiety.
Be sure to carry some small treats around to reward your Yorkie for any positive interactions they may have with other people and pets.
#2 Teach Bite Inhibition
One of the first and arguably the most important lessons you can teach a young puppy is known as “bite inhibition”.
Dogs often come into contact with children and other dogs, and this often results in bites and nips, even if they are only accidental.
The idea with bite inhibition is that early on, you should allow puppies to mouth and bite you a little as they would normally unless they apply too much pressure.
When they bite too hard, make a clear “Ouch!” or “Ow” sound and let your hand go limp or take it away.
This training allows your puppy to be aware of its jaw strength and will teach it how hard is too hard when it comes to biting or mouthing.
To some degree, puppies actually teach each other bite inhibition naturally as they play with each other.
Things often get out of hand as they play and bite each other. One puppy may let out a yelp and go limp for a moment if things get too rough.
This is one of many reasons that proper socialization with other dogs early on is key.
Bite inhibition will help your dog in many other possible situations later on in life.
This includes communicating distress (which I will touch on a bit later) and being gentle with their puppies should they ever have any.
#3 Teach Them That Biting Means “Game Over.”
Once your puppy has learned bite inhibition and it is becoming a bit older, you should start to take more of a hard stance against the chewing or biting of human appendiges all together.
While bite inhibition training is important to show your puppy how to control their pressure early on, this “game over” approach makes it clear that biting (even if it is gentle) is no longer acceptable.
If you’re playing a with your Yorkie (or even if you aren’t) and it begins mouthing or nipping your hands use the following method:
- Give your Yorkie an audible signal that it is painful such as “ouch!”
- Place your hands under your armpits
- Leave the room or area
- After a few minutes, if they’ve calmed down, you can return
- Repeat this process if the bad behavior continues
Letting your Yorkie know that it will not receive any affection or attention following this type of behavior should teach them to stop pretty quickly.
Yorkies, like many dogs, love to play with their owners and they love to get attention whenever possible. This means that a lack of owner attention is one of the most effective deterrents for bad behavior.
#4 Replace Your Hands With Chew Toys
Often puppies are at their nippiest during playtime.
This is to be expected from an animal that doesn’t have any hands and interacts with the world using its mouth. It’s just the way that dogs play and learn.
Instead of trying to eliminate this natural behavior, to begin with, it’s often easier to simply redirect it using things such as chew toys.
When your Yorkie is in an excitable playful mood, encourage it to target chew toys instead of your skin.
Experiment with a few different options to see which is your Yorkies favorite. There are plenty of options out there. Check out some options here on Amazon.
Remember to avoid toys with batteries, long ribbons, long strings, real bones, or anything with small or sharp points that can break off.
#5 Teach the Commands “Stop” and “Leave It”
As your puppy becomes older still they should also learn the command to stop what they are doing or to leave something alone.
These commands should be taught to every dog. They are extremely useful in many different situations.
In the case of biting or nipping, when your puppy exhibits this behavior, firmly say “Stop” or “Leave It” in an authoritative tone that lets your puppy know that this is not a playful moment.
As with the “biting means game over” approach, you may also want to put your hands under your armpits to help signal to your dog what is expected.
If your dog stops or leaves whatever it is biting or nipping at, you can reward them immediately with a treat.
#6 Burn off Excess Energy
Unless there is a more sinister reason for their biting such as they have been provoked, they are being territorial or truly aggressive, Puppies usually only ever really bite when they are overexcited.
Make sure to play with your dog an adequate amount of time each day and take them for regular walks.
This will help to expel excess energy and will help to keep them calm around the home, therefore, lessening biting or nipping due to overexcitement.
Methods to Avoid When Training Your Puppy Not to Bite
In addition to effective ways to train your puppy to not bite, there are also ineffective and even abusive training methods that you should avoid.
These methods can have ineffective or even adverse effects.
Methods you should avoid when training your puppy not to bite include:
- Slapping or hitting your puppy for biting. This response can cause your puppy to become afraid of you or even become more aggressive.
- Other physical punishments like shaking, whacking the nose, or sticking your fingers down the dog’s throat.
- Sending them to their crate for biting. This can make them equate all crate time to punishment. Their crate should be a positive safe space for them.
- Yelling or shouting at your puppy. If you want to use words like “Ouch” or “Stop,” make sure to train them as commands and not as screams or yells.
- Holding or clamping your dog’s mouth shut after biting. This can also encourage aggressive behavior or fear of you.
7 Reasons Yorkie Puppies Bite (and What They Mean)
Puppies, just like human babies, are wired for exploration. Human babies put things in their mouths when they are curious, and dogs do the same.
There are many reasons that your puppy may be biting, but most are not out of aggression.
One common reason that your puppy may be gnawing on everything (including your hands) is that they are teething.
Teething usually starts when your puppy is around three months old and lasts until six to eight months of age. If biting is occurring during this early period this is usually the cause.
Teething can be frustrating and damaging to your furniture or other belongings but it doesn’t last forever.
In the meantime, if your pup is chewing things that they shouldn’t, try to immediately move their focus onto a chew toy. They should hopefully begin to understand what is acceptable to gnaw on and what isn’t.
#2 Out of Excitement or Playfulness
Puppies can get very excited, especially when seeing family members they’ve been absent from for some time.
Yorkie puppies often get rather hyper while playing. This can cause them to bite almost subconsciously.
Bite inhibition training is perfect for this too because it teaches your puppy to not bite hard enough to inflict any pain while also not inhibiting their natural playfulness.
#3 To Get Your Attention
Sometimes when a puppy bites it is simply because they want your attention or they are trying to tell you something.
Reasons Yorkie puppies may bite for attention include:
- They want to play
- They need to be let out to pee
- They need food or water
- They want some affection
This can be endearing and sometimes quite understandable. Puppies are quite limited in the ways they can communicate with us after all.
However, biting excessively to get attention is not okay. Again, teaching them bite inhibition will prevent them from doing any damage in these instances.
Also, try to ensure you are always one step ahead and that all of your puppy’s needs are met. This will help to prevent them from getting into the habit.
Remember, if they get the result they were looking for after biting you for attention, this will most likely reinforce the behavior, leading to more biting in the future.
Eventually, as dogs get older they often find other means of more subtly communicating their needs. Things such as sitting in front of the food bowl or door and squeaking when they want food or they need to pee.
Do your best to reward these more subtle hints as soon as possible as opposed to the nibbling.
#4 They Are in Pain or Discomfort
Sometimes dogs bite when they are in pain or discomfort as in these instances, they often just want to be left alone.
If this behavior is not normal for your puppy and they just start biting out of the blue there may be a medical issue causing them pain that needs to be addressed.
This behavior is normally more common in older dogs however, puppies may also react the same way in certain circumstances.
As touched upon, biting due to pain in puppies is typically only because they are teething.
However, If your puppy is not of teething age and randomly begins biting a lot when you approach them, you may want to take them to the veterinarian.
Get them a medical check-up to rule out any underlying causes for pain and their short temper.
#5 They Are Biting Out of Habit
Puppies nibble and bite for many reasons.
However, if they are not trained out of it from an early age they may develop a habit of biting for biting’s sake.
It is important to begin consistent training as soon as possible to reduce the chance of them developing a nasty habit that is hard to kick.
This is incredibly important to ensure that your puppy does not cause injury to itself or anyone else later on in life.
#6 They Are Being Mistreated
Sometimes when a puppy bites it may be somewhat justified. Biting is a typical response if someone is mistreating the dog.
Often this occurs when they are around younger children who do not know how to act around dogs.
Being that Yorkies are very small they are easily hurt. Having a small child (which is large by Yorkie standards) getting in their face or handling them too roughly can be extremely distressful for a Yorkie.
Preventing your Yorkie from feeling as though it is being threatened is the best way to prevent this kind of biting.
Be sure to teach younger children how to handle puppies, especially smaller ones like Yorkies.
Additionally, once again, bite inhibition training will help in this situation.
A dog that has been taught proper bite inhibition will often just mouth the offender gently as a warning without causing pain or injury.
This is very effective in getting a child to stop what they are doing without causing them any harm.
This can save a puppy from being reprimanded by law for biting a child that was bothering it. Especially as some states require all dog bites that break the skin to be reported.
#7 Out of Fear or Anxiety
When a puppy is biting often in new places or when they are around new people or dogs, it is probably because the puppy has not been well socialized.
If you notice any of the following behaviors along with biting, it is most probably down to fear or anxiety:
- Tail kept low or between the hind legs
- Excessive panting
To stop biting as a response to fear and anxiety, you will have to work hard on desensitizing them to the situations that are making them fearful.
The best way to do this is with plenty of brief but pleasant interactions with the object of fear.
Do not throw your dog straight into the deep end though as this may have adverse effects.
Ease them in slowly step by step and reassure them with treats whenever they move towards more acceptable behaviors.
How to Desensitize a Fearful or Anxious Yorkie Puppy/Adult
Desensitization to things that your dog finds fearful is key in stopping them from biting in such situations.
To achieve this, it is best if the object of their fear (whether it be another dog, a person, or a place) is stationary.
If it is other people or dogs causing the issue, you may have to get a friend or a friend with a well-socialized dog to help out.
- Bring your dog to a reasonable distance where its focus is still half on you; the owner and half on the subject causing them to be fearful.
- The idea here is that your dog shouldn’t be so stressed out by the situation that it is completely out of control. However, you do need to be pushing your Yorkie out of its comfort zone to make any progress.
- When your dog’s focus is still half with you and a half on their feared subject, try to bring its focus fully back to you.
- Your body language needs to be confident and use your voice to calm your Yorkie and bring its attention back.
- When in the same position, your Yorkie’s focus is 100% back to you, reward it with a treat.
- Once comfortable in this position you -can begin to bring them closer to the object of fear and repeat.
This may take multiple sessions and lots of baby steps but you should get their eventually.
Training a Yorkie puppy not to bite can be very trying, and it requires much patience and determination.
Discerning the reason for your puppy’s biting is extremely useful in finding the best solution. Try to identify the circumstances leading up to this behavior and pinpoint the reason for their biting.
- What were you doing leading up to the biting? Did this provoke them?
- Were they around new people or in a new environment? If so could this be territorial behavior?
- What was your response? Could it be reinforcing their behavior or provoking further aggression?
It should be noted that even if the biting is for non-aggressive reasons, excessive biting is still an issue and should also be addressed when training your puppy.
Start training while your puppy is still young, and remember consistency is key.
With the right mindset, training, and a bit of luck, this phase in your puppy’s life should only be temporary.