When you bring your baby puppy home chances are they will start to bite at your hands and legs. Puppy mouthing is a normal part of development, it allows your puppy to explore and interact with their environment. Mouthing becomes inappropriate when your puppy is breaking your skin resulting in punctures, scratches and bruising.
Everything is brand new to your puppy and much of their play and learning takes place via their mouth. Puppies come programed to mouth, and while many will grow out of it, some will continue to carry this behaviour for a lifetime. What you can do is teach your puppy what is appropriate and inappropriate to mouth.
The first thing you should be aware of is when your puppy is likely to bite, you must anticipate the inappropriate biting in order to change it. Does the biting happen first thing in the morning? Just as dusk is occurring? When you arrive home? When you play with him? Get to know your puppy’s signals as he is gearing up for biting you and redirect him with the following options, a toy in your hand, asking him to sit and feeding him treats for remaining sitting calmly, or give him a long lasting eatable chew or stuffed food toy to redirect the behaviour.
If you are too late and the biting has already started, stand up, fold your arms and stand very still not looking at your puppy. When he has calmed down slowly praise and reach for a toy or food distraction for redirection. Ignoring biting alone will not stop an unwanted behaviour. The best way to change a behaviour is to anticipate it and direct it to a more appropriate outlet.
There are preventative measures you can take to ensure puppy mouthing remains at a minimum. Only have your puppy loose in the house when you can actively supervise him, all other times he should be in a confined area (close to you) where he cannot get in to any mischief. Allow you puppy to play and interact with other dogs to give him an appropriate outlet for his mouthing. Other dogs will give your puppy good feedback about how to use his teeth and mouth. Give your dog raw meaty bones and interactive stuffable toys to chew and lick food from, this will exercise his teeth, jaws and brain, you can even feed him every meal out of these toys. Walking your dog every day will also help.
If you are successful at anticipating and redirecting inappropriate mouthing it will not become a learned habit, so put those Band-aids away and give your puppy something else to wrap his jaws around.