Are you a new vizsla puppy owner nursing bites, bruises, and torn clothing and wondering how to stop vizsla puppy biting?
Perhaps you or the kids have been reduced to tears wondering what happened to the sweet little puppy you picked up and where did this land shark come from?
Unfortunately vizsla puppy biting is a (dreaded) normal phase of raising young vizslas. But thankfully there are actionable steps you can take to train your vizsla puppy to stop biting and shorten the time the phase lasts for.
So if you need help, this guide to vizsla biting is for you. We explain why vizsla puppies bite, how you can stop a vizsla biting as a puppy and share tips from experienced vizsla owners on how to survive the vizsla sharkies stage.
This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.
Why Do Vizsla Puppies Bite?
Play biting is a completely natural part of life for Hungarian vizsla puppies. Much like human babies, vizsla puppies begin life exploring everything with their mouths including your hands, feet, kids and clothing!
In the early weeks of life puppies learn bite inhibition from their mom and littermates who educate them on what level of play biting, nipping and mouthing is acceptable when playing.
When you bring a puppy home to a new environment they don’t have their littermates to keep their behaviour in check so it is critical as a new vizsla puppy owner you continue the bite inhibition training and socialization their littermates started.
Vizsla puppies love nothing more than playing with people who also happen to have fun clothes, feet, toes and hands to put in their mouth.
What they don’t realize is those super sharp little puppy teeth really hurt when they come into contact with us!
To complicate matters, teething is also occurring in the early months of a puppy’s life. While teething isn’t generally the primary reason for puppy biting, it can contribute to biting issues.
Over time puppies learn bite inhibition and how to mouth appropriately.
But in the early weeks and months puppies don’t have these skills and bite anything and everything A LOT – they don’t call vizsla puppies land sharks for nothing!
So if you are new vizsla puppy owners and need help, read on as we share steps on how to stop vizsla biting and tips from experienced vizsla owners.
Have a vizsla puppy? Get our vizsla puppy training planner to stay organized and track their progress.
Biting vs Mouthing
Before we launch into how to stop puppy biting, a quick word on the difference between biting and mouthing.
Biting is a forceful or sharp hard pressure whereas mouthing is when your puppy gently puts its mouth around something without biting down.
As a hunting and retrieving dog breed, the Hungarian vizsla breed can be more “mouthy” than other breeds. Ours commonly mouth our hands as a greeting when we arrive home if they don’t have a toy in their mouth.
They are bred to retrieve birds and ducks in their mouths and so even adult vizslas that are not trained to hunt tend to enjoy both holding things in their mouth and touching things with their mouth, like your hands.
And while you can train a vizsla not to mouth at all, it is an instinctive vizsla trait. So in this guide we focus on how to stop puppy biting and not so much on preventing mouthing all together.
How To Stop Vizsla Puppy Biting
Your job as a new vizsla owner is to teach your puppy what kind of play is acceptable and offer them alternatives when they exhibit the wrong behavior.
They are young and have not had much time to learn what is right and wrong. So positive reinforcement and not punishment is the most effective way in the long term to stop a vizsla biting as a puppy.
Below are the basic steps to use when your puppy is biting.
1. Withdraw Attention
If you are playing with your puppy and they bite you, instantly make a firm, short, loud and low pitched yelp sound to show the puppy they have hurt you. “Ow”, “Uh-Uh” or “No Bite” all work as words/sounds.
Stop moving your hand (or feet), make it go limp and immediately withdraw ALL attention. Slowly withdraw your hand. You could also turn around, walk away or simply stop looking at them while staying in position.
You want to make an impression on the puppy to make it clear that they have hurt you, the game is over and you are withdrawing your attention.
If your puppy is under 12 weeks or 3 months old, yelp to startle the puppy, pause for 10-20 seconds then redirect with a toy.
For puppies older than 12 weeks, yelp, pause or walk away for 30-60 seconds then re-engage.
If they follow you and try to nip you again, go to a separate room or space they cannot enter or calmly remove them to their crate or play pen without engaging or punishing.
When playing with your puppy, always have toys close by so if they start to get mouthy with you, you can redirect the game with a toy.
Place the toy in their mouth or use the toy to redirect their focus on the game and not your body.
If you have started training basic commands, switching from the game to a short sharp training session can also help refocus the puppy.
Teaching “find a toy” is also a great instruction to teach your vizsla puppy. It is useful for when guests arrive or they are barking or biting to go find a toy and put it in their mouth.
Consistently and lavishly reward your puppy when they demonstrate the right behaviors.
Reward them when they sit. Reward when they are calm. Reward when training simple commands.
By rewarding in these circumstances it will make it clearer to them when their behavior is correct and when it isn’t.
How To Stop Puppy Biting Hands And Fingers
In addition to the steps above, try to integrate some active training sessions with treats to train your puppy not to bite when being handled or petted.
This training video explains how to do this and will go a long way to stop puppy from biting hands and fingers.
How To Stop Puppy From Biting Feet And Clothes
Puppies love to pounce on their owners feet as well as jump up to grab dressing gowns, jumpers, shoes.
The result can be tears, scratches, bites and plenty of torn clothing.
It is always a good idea to put your most expensive and/or favorite clothing and shoes away for a few weeks while your puppy is young.
Also take a look at this training video which is great for training to stop puppy biting clothes, shoes and feet.
What To Do About Hyperactive Puppy Biting
One of the most common causes of aggressive puppy biting is overtiredness or overstimulation.
Puppies need to sleep a lot in the first few months and when they don’t get enough sleep or they are overstimulated they easily get hyperactive and start biting.
It is often worse later in the day when the end of day zoomies kick in.
So if they are having a puppy tantrum and the biting gets harder or more aggressive and your puppy won’t calm down, the safest option is remove them to a safe place like their crate or a separate room for 5 minutes.
Bite Inhibition Training
The techniques above are essentially teaching your puppy bite inhibition, but in a reactive way – when they bite.
If you have the time to proactively train bite inhibition with your vizsla puppy it can significantly reduce the time it takes to stop vizsla puppy biting completely.
This is particularly useful if you have small children, as vizsla puppy biting can be a particularly stressful stage for young families.
Proactive bite inhibition training teaches your puppy to moderate the pressure of their bite according to different situations.
When your puppy is calm and well rested you should:
- Offer your hands to the puppy (not moving them around).
- Your puppy will likely mouth your hands. When they bite hard then follow the technique above – a loud yelp followed by a withdrawal of attention.
- Return to the puppy and repeat, offering your hands again.
- Repeat this training in short stints every day until puppy learns how to mouth your hand without hurting you.
If this training is of interest to you, read more about the technique here.
Tips For Surviving The Vizsla Sharkies Phase
The good news is that puppy biting is a phase and it does get better.
But if you are in the trenches with your puppy and need some reassurance, here are some great tips on how to survive the vizsla sharkies phase from experienced vizsla owners.
What To Do
- Be consistent with your message when biting occurs. Do the same thing every. single. time.
- Keep young puppies on a leash when inside so they can be restrained / redirected more easily.
- Have toys scattered in every place your puppy has access to and redirect with a toy whenever the puppy tries to bite or chew on hands or feet.
- Engage in calm play and play non contact forms of play such as fetch. Always play with a toy and not with your hands.
- Spend time with other puppies, vaccinated older dogs and at puppy school as they will also have a role to play in teaching puppy bite inhibition.
- Instruct children to stand still, turn their back and keep hands tucked away when a puppy bites them.
- Tell children to always offer a toy for puppy to put in their mouth when playing.
- Offer ice cubes, frozen carrots and chew toys to help with teething pain.
- Ensure they get plenty of nap time so they aren’t overtired or overstimulated.
- For young families, use baby gates to separate puppy from kids area.
What Not To Do
- Avoid rough play with young puppies as it increases the chance of mouthing and biting. Avoid too much exercise, games like tug of war, pushing and wrestling for the first few weeks.
- Do not physically punish a vizsla puppy for biting. They are eager to please and you don’t want them to be afraid of you.
- Don’t pull hands or feet away suddenly when they bite as this encourages the pup to chase. Better to stop moving instead then slowly pull away.
- Children under 5 should never be left unsupervised with puppies.
- Don’t wear your best clothes around puppies – they are likely to end up with holes or rips.
At What Age Do Vizsla Puppies Stop Biting?
Uncontrolled biting should stop by the time the puppy is 4-6 months old.
However the time it takes for vizsla puppies to stop biting can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and will depend on how consistently and persistently you are training them.
If you actively train them on bite inhibition it will resolve more quickly.
Vizsla Biting Frequently Asked Questions
Involving children in puppy training is important to help establish the pack structure and stop the puppy biting kids however puppies and children are unpredictable. Young children under 5 should not be left unsupervised with puppies. Older children should be shown how to respond to puppy biting and discouraged from initiating rough play with the puppy.
Yes, puppy biting is a normal stage of puppy development. Much like human babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths and need to be taught what is acceptable play biting and mouthing.
Have a vizsla puppy? Get our vizsla puppy training planner to stay organized and track their progress.
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