Crate training a puppy for biting should be done not to punish your dog, but to give them a place to calm themselves down. You should first attempt to redirect biting before it happens.
If your puppy does bite you, pick them up gently and calmly set them in their crate.
Crate training for biting only works in some instances, and isn’t always the best solution to the problem. For example, locking a hyper puppy who hasn’t had enough exercise in their crate isn’t going to fix their behavior. It will likely only frustrate them.
In this article, I’ll explain how to use crate training to teach your dog not to bite, when not to use the crate, and why punishments for dogs are ineffective.
1. Never Use a Crate as Punishment
First, I should let you know that I’m not going to teach you how to punish your puppy in this article. Crate training can help with a biting puppy when done right, but not when used as a punishment or without addressing the root of the biting problem.
Punishing a dog simply doesn’t work to do anything except damage your relationship with them.
If you are using the crate as a punishment tool, you should stop this immediately. Crate training is meant to give your puppy a relaxed, safe space—not to give you someplace to stick your pup when you don’t want to deal with their behavior.
Instead of trying to punish or dominate your puppy, you should use modern, effective, and humane training methods like positive reinforcement.
This involves rewarding your puppy with treats and praise when they’re behaving well, and ignoring or redirecting bad behavior.
Correcting your puppy in this way will make both of you happier and help your bond.
For example, instead of screaming and yelling at a puppy for biting your ar Take a step back, think about why they’re biting, and calmly address the root of the problem. Are they teething? Playful?
Maybe you decide to redirect your puppy to a toy to bite instead of your arm. You save yourself the frustration of getting worked up yelling at your pup, you address the actual problem at hand, and your puppy doesn’t get scolded without really knowing what they’ve done wrong.
Of course, nobody’s perfect! I’ve definitely yelled at a pet for biting before. When something hurts us, sometimes it’s our first reaction.
Through practice, though, we can train both ourselves and our dogs to do better.
2. Redirect Biting Before it Happens
It may sound weird at first, but stick with me: the best way to stop your puppy from biting is to catch them before it happens.
Puppies don’t bite at random, or without reason. It’s likely that you already know the signs that your puppy is about to bite.
Maybe they gallop toward you, or get a hyper look in their eyes. Maybe they bite during play when they get too riled up.
Some reasons a puppy might bite include high energy, teething, and aggression.
Ways to stop a biting puppy before they bite include:
- Ensuring your puppy gets enough exercise throughout the day. A hyper dog is more likely to bite in an attempt to get you playing with them, or to get carried away when they finally have the chance to play.
- Starting a play session when the puppy is about to bite. If you notice your puppy is about to bite, stop it before it happens by grabbing a toy and starting a game of tug-of-war or fetch instead. This teaches your puppy what they are allowed to bite, instead of just telling them no to biting you.
- Calmly placing your puppy in their crate if they’re getting tired. Sometimes puppies will throw fits when tired, kind of like human toddlers. If this is the case, put them into their crate so that they can calm down.
- Never using your hands or feet as toys. If you don’t want your puppy to bite you, you have to be consistent. A dog who’s encouraged to bite hands or feet during play is bound to continue doing so at inappropriate times and well into their adulthood.
- Providing plenty of chew toys for your puppy to gnaw on. The fact is, biting is normal and healthy for puppies. It’s an instinctual behavior for them, so be sure they have plenty of appropriate items to chew on that you can redirect them to.
- Never provoking or scaring a puppy into biting. Whether you’re purposefully annoying your dog or you’ve found a specific action that triggers their biting, it’s up to you not to cause your puppy to bite when you can avoid it. Never expect any animal to just sit and take mistreatment from you or anyone else (including children and other pets!).
- Adopting two puppies instead of one. Dogs are social creatures, and one of the best things you can do for your puppy is to give them a playmate. Puppies rely on each other for a lot, including learning how to play appropriately.
- Never adopting a puppy before seven weeks of age. Like I said above, puppies teach one another how rough to play. If you adopt your puppy before they’re ready to leave the litter, you’re much more likely to have a hard biter.
3. Calmly Place Your Dog in the Crate
When you can’t catch your puppy before the bite, you should follow it up by separating the two of you. This will teach your puppy that they won’t be rewarded for biting, and that all play stops if they do so.
There are varying ways to do this, including simply standing and walking away. If you want to use your crate, though, then here is your opportunity!
- Simply carry your dog to the crate and set them inside. Don’t scold them or say anything, just give them a few minutes to calm down.
- Remember that this isn’t punishment. Don’t handle your puppy roughly, shove them into the crate, or otherwise physically hurt them.
Not only are physical punishments abusive, but they can also lead to a dog biting more out of fear or aggression.
- Once the puppy is calmer, you can let them out of their crate or even leave them inside for a little while to nap.
Note that this only works in certain instances.
If your dog hasn’t had enough exercise, you need to give them that instead of expecting them to calm down inside of their crate.
If they continue to bite at you while you carry them to the crate, you might find that getting up and walking away yourself is more effective as it ends the behavior immediately.
But if you have a feeling your dog is getting tired or over-stimulated, this “time out” period can allow them to calm down.
4. Ensure Your Dog is Getting Enough Exercise
Lastly, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. This may seem unrelated to biting, but it definitely isn’t!
A dog who isn’t getting enough exercise will look for their own ways of playing. They might try to roughhouse with you or nip your ankles to let you know they’re ready for some fun!
All sorts of misbehaviors arise when dogs have pent up energy, because their needs aren’t being fully met.
After all, you would probably feel amped up too, or even aggravated, if you were stuck inside all day with nothing to do.
Also, remember that puppies go through a phase of teething, exploring with their mouths, and rough play. Biting at this age is a normal behavior, but it should still be redirected to more appropriate means of exercise, chewing, and play.
If you’re unsure about how much exercise your dog needs, do some research into their breed. For dogs with unknown genetics, choose a similar breed or make your best guess. You can also speak to a professional such as your veterinarian for more help.
There is a huge range in exercise needs for different dogs depending on their size, age, health, and a number of other factors.
In general, your dog will likely need a daily walk and playtime. They should also have toys they can play with on their own when they get bored.
Remember that puppies tend toward short bursts of energy many times throughout the day, while older dogs can handle longer exercise sessions. You’ll have to set a schedule that accommodates your dog’s needs.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus