Golden Retriever Bites: How to Prevent and Handle Dog Biting
Do you have a golden retriever? If so, then you need to read this blog post! Golden retrievers are known for being friendly and loving dogs, but they can also be prone to biting. In this post, we will discuss the causes of dog biting and how to prevent it. Let’s get started!
Puppy biting is one of the most annoying things about raising a new puppy. It hurts when they bite you, and they can ruin your clothes!
Puppy biting is a natural part of their learning and development. Puppies will bite a lot as they learn how to interact with people and other animals.
Why Do Golden Retriever Puppies Bite So Much?
There are two main reasons why golden retriever puppies might bite a lot:
- They’re puppies, and all puppies do it.
- They’re golden retrievers, and they’ve been bred to put objects in their mouths (particularly gunned-down birds, but they won’t turn down a finger or two).
The golden retriever breed is known for biting a lot because they were bred to be mouthy.
Why do puppies bite so much?
This is important so your puppy will grow into a good dog. Let’s unpack this for more details.
Acquired Bite Inhibition (ABI)
Puppy biting is normal.
They’re not being aggressive or dominant on purpose, but they are learning a valuable lesson.
Puppies bite to discover acquired bite inhibition, otherwise known as ABI.
What exactly is ABI?
It’s the unconscious ability to control how hard they bite.
Here is an example.
Let’s pretend your golden is two years old, and you inadvertently tread on his tail while he’s sleeping.
*He might leap up and bite you because you hurt him and scared him.
Understandable, I’d bite someone too if they stepped on me while I was sleeping.
But the important thing is this: how hard will they bite?
This is where ABI comes in.
If they have proper ABI, they’ll likely do nothing more than put their mouth on your hand because they’ve learned to inhibit their bite force.
On the other hand, if they don’t have proper ABI, they won’t know to inhibit their bite force, so the bite could be dangerous and leave a cut or bruise.
So ABI is really important.
Now the question is, how do they learn it?
How Do Puppies Learn ABI?
The only way for puppies to learn ABI is to bite and bite often.
The best teachers are other dogs.
Here’s a very simplified version of how it works out in the real world:
If a puppy is playing with her littermate and play bites her too hard, the other puppy will stop playing with her and walk away.
The puppy is disappointed that playtime is over, and they think that maybe they shouldn’t bite so hard.
Next time they bite a little less hard, and playtime continues.
This is how they learn ABI.
Obviously, it takes a lot of repetition of this scenario to happen for a puppy to learn not to bite so hard, but this is essentially how it works out.
But what happens when they’re taken away from their littermates at two months old?
That’s where you come in!
Yes, you will need to help teach your puppy ABI.
You can do this two ways:
- Set up puppy playdates and take them to puppy kindergarten so other puppies can teach them ABI.
- Let them know when they’re biting too hard and respond properly.
More on teaching your puppy ABI in a second, but here’s the final thing to know about ABI: it’s time-sensitive.
If a puppy hasn’t learned it by the time they’re 4.5-6 months old, they’ll likely never learn it, which could make them a dangerous adult dog.
Alright now that we know why puppies bite and how important it is, let’s dive into how to appropriately stop it while also teaching ABI.
5 Tips To Help Stop Your Puppy From Biting So Much
Since puppies bite to learn ABI, you don’t want them to stop biting altogether at first.
You actually want them to bite a little bit and learn to control how hard they bite.
That being said, letting them go on a biting rampage is not helping the situation, so here are five tips to help you stop your puppy from biting so much:
1. Socialize your puppy
Other dogs are the best teachers of ABI, so make sure to get your puppy in kindergarten and set up playdates with dogs you know are vaccinated.
2. Give your puppy something to bite
If they’re incessantly biting your fingers, redirect their attention and give them something they’re allowed to bite, like a plush toy.
3. Let your puppy know that biting hurts
Some people will tell you to pretend like you’re a puppy and cry out when your puppy is biting too much or too hard.
Your puppy knows you’re not one of them, so you need to pretend to be a puppy, but you can give a little yelp that sends the message, “Don’t do that; that hurts.”
4. Remove yourself from the situation
Puppies can often be over-stimulated or over-tired.
It’s these times when they’ll have the zoomies or go on a biting spree that makes you think you accidentally adopted a great white shark.
If your puppy is in this mood, there’s no controlling them, and it’s best to remove yourself from the situation.
This is where utilizing baby gates can really help as they’ll allow you to leave the room so your puppy can’t follow you and continue to nip at you.
One thing we did with our puppy, Oliver, when he got in these moods was to go sit at our high-top table in the kitchen and ignore him until he calmed down or distracted himself with a chew toy.
5. Exercise your puppy
A tired puppy is a good puppy.
And a tired puppy won’t bite as much as one that’s bursting with pent-up energy.
If you physically and mentally wear your puppy out, then they’ll have less of a desire to bite, and you’ll both be happier for it.
Why Do Puppies Have Such Sharp Teeth?
For puppies to learn ABI, they need to get a reaction from their littermates and other dogs that they’re biting too hard.
Young puppies have weak jaws, so a bite from them would be no big deal if they had dull teeth.
But they don’t have dull teeth.
Their mouths seem to be full of tiny little needles that are so sharp that if they bite another puppy or human, they’re guaranteed to get a reaction.
So yes, their teeth are sharp for an important reason, but the good news is that these little daggers fall out at around four months, so you won’t have to deal with them for too long.
Difference Between Puppy Nipping & Adult Biting
Everything covered up to this point was specifically for puppy biting.
All puppies naturally bite, but if your adult dog is biting, you’ll want to speak with a professional, especially if it does not play biting.
Most adult golden retrievers bite out of fear, and a professional can help you properly handle it.
Puppy Biting vs. Chewing
Puppy biting or nipping is when a dog purposefully bites you.
As we already talked about, they need to learn ABI.
Puppy chewing, on the other hand, is when puppies chew on things to relieve the pressure in their mouths from their adult teeth coming in.
It’s great if they’re chewing on things they’re supposed to be chewing on, as their toys, but not so great if they’re chewing on your shoes or furniture.
Since puppies bite and chew for different reasons, you need to handle these problems differently.
Puppy Biting Mistakes
Here are some common mistakes puppy owners make when it comes to handling puppy biting:
Don’t thump the puppy on nose, grab their mouth, or spray water or anything in their face if they’re biting.
Instead, distract them with something they’re allowed to bite or remove yourself from the situation if they’re biting too much.
Puppies don’t learn ABI in a day.
It can take several (potentially painful) weeks for them to learn to control their bite force, stop biting you so much, and learn what’s appropriate to bite.
If you’re sick of your puppy biting, remember that they’re just a puppy, try to be patient, be consistent with the tips above on how to stop it, and know that it will end soon.
Not Being Prepared
Be prepared to get bit by your puppy a lot—it’s how they learn.
But also prepare by structuring your puppy’s day, so they don’t have a strong desire to bite you.
Wear them out physically by playing fetch or tug or with a flirt pole if you don’t want to get your fingers near their mouths.
Mentally wear them out by training them, going for long walks, letting them sniff around, and giving them puzzle toys or frozen kongs.
Remember that a tired puppy is a good puppy.
Golden retriever puppies bite a lot for two reasons:
- They’re golden retrievers, and they were bred to be mouthy (and do things like pick up birds in their mouths)
- All puppies bite to learn ABI
You can teach them to bite less by:
- Socializing your puppy
- Giving them something appropriate for them to bite
- Letting them know that their bites hurt
- Removing yourself from the situation
- Physically and mentally wearing them out
However, remember that puppies need to bite to learn ABI, so you don’t want them to just go cold-turkey with biting.
Instead, they need to learn to control their bite force and then bite less.
You can check out this link to understand more about why dogs bite.
Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Retriever Biting
Make sure he gets plenty of exercises each day. Golden Retrievers needs a good run around because they are relatively big dogs. His biting may be a result of pent-up energy. So, give him a long walk or throw a ball for him as you go.
Yes – Golden Retrievers, like most dogs, have a natural tendency to bite. But because these dogs were bred to retrieve injured game birds using their soft mouths, it’s in their instincts to bite. Still, Golden Retrievers don’t usually bite hard and are among the safest dogs to be around.
Suppose a dog bite pierces a person’s skin. In that case, bacteria from the animal’s mouth can get into the body, which can cause an infection. Washing the wound thoroughly can remove the bacteria from the body and help prevent infection. If the bacteria stay in the body, they can cause an infection, such as tetanus, rabies, or sepsis.
By about three months of age, your puppy will have learned to keep from biting too hard during play. As they grow and respond to you, you can up your sensitivity to the bites you’re willing to receive. By four or five months, all force behind play bites should be eliminated.
One of the most common causes of aggression in a Golden is injury. Dogs don’t show their pain as humans do. Instead of searching for someone to help them, they will — literally — lick their wounds in isolation. And can be aggressive when someone tries to help (particularly if the pain is severe).
“The bites are not meant to hurt you, but rather to indicate the dog wants a play session, not a cuddle fest,” she adds. This is especially true for puppies and young dogs, who want to do nothing but play most of the day, she says. You may find this happens when you want to calmly pet your dog.
While we think of golden retrievers as sweet and loving dogs, they can still bite for certain reasons. Their bite is surprisingly strong. … The bite force of a golden retriever is estimated to be around 190 PSI, which ranks as the 30th strongest bite force in dogs.
Biting is a perfectly normal habit in puppies. Still, it’s a behavior you want to address quickly. If they bite or plays too hard with another puppy, that puppy will yelp and stop the fun. If they are too rough with an older dog, that dog will put it in their place.
Cons Big and hungry. If overfed, this breed gets big (55-75 pounds) and will gladly get bigger. Needs vigorous exercise (and a lot of it). Daily workouts of 40-60 minutes are a must for this breed. Holy shed. Not great at being alone in an apartment all day. Prone to certain health problems.
After a dog bite, find out who the owner is and try to find out the anti-rabies vaccination status of the dog. Rinse the wound with water and soap. A person with a dog bite will need to receive an anti-rabies vaccine on 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28th days of a dog bite.
If a Dog Bite Occurs, Remain calm. Confine your dog in a crate or another room. Help the bite victim wash the wound thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Be courteous and sympathetic to the bite victim. Contact a medical professional for the bite victim. Offer to contact a friend or family member for the victims.
Instead of giving your dog time-outs for hard biting, start to give him time-outs every time you feel his teeth touch your skin. The instant you feel your dog’s teeth touch you, give a high-pitched yelp. Then immediately walk away from him. Ignore him for 30 to 60 seconds.
Golden Retrievers can make excellent guard dogs. They are large, protective, and smart enough to guard your home and your family with minimal training at times. This is largely due to their obedient and loyal nature.
There are two ways to do this: wait for your dog to offer a sit, or give the cue “sit” and then reward her when she responds. The reward should be whatever your Golden was jumping on you for in the first place – petting, a toy, a treat, even his food dish!
Stop the game, put a leash on him, ask him to lie down, and give him something to chew on. Or, if he’s already too excited, walk him on the leash and ask him to do some obedience exercises until he calms down. Don’t yell at him or otherwise punish him; that’s counterproductive. Instead, help him calm himself.