Why Does my Puppy Bite Their Leash?
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It's quite common to see a puppy or dog bite and chew their leash when you take them out for a walk. However this behavior may surprise you and leave you wondering why. It can also be quite uncomfortable when taking them out on a walk.
For this reason, in this article of AnimalWised, we are going to explain why your dog bites and chew their leash and how to leash train them to stop.
Why does my dog or puppy bite their leash when walking?
It's probable that if your adult dog is chewing and biting their leash, they've been doing this since they were puppies. This is because this behavior usually begins at a young age. These are the most common causes of why your dog or puppy is biting their leash:
The reason behind why your dog is biting their leash may be as simple as because they are dogs. Dogs are very playful and social animals. Puppies are even more active as they're always trying to find something else to play with. This may be why it's so common to see puppies chewing their leash and shaking it from side to side. They might think we want to play tug-of-war with them, and they never refuse a challenge.
Similarly, this can happen with adult dogs that are lacking stimulation with their environment. This makes them feel stressed, and so they will begin to play and bite their leash as a form of entertainment. You might observe how your dog jumps or shakes the leash in a playful matter. Learn how to entertain your dog when he is home alone with our article on how to entertain your dog.
Something else that may happen is that when you try to take the leash away from them, they might growl at you. Now, this can be playful but sometimes they are truly protecting their leash because they see it as their toy and entertainment. They don't want you to take it away from them.
During a puppy's teething period, they will try to calm the pain that the growing teeth produce. They do this by biting objects around them.
From birth to six months, a puppy will begin to grow their teeth. They will go through different stages of teething, such as "milk teeth" sore gums and eventually they will grow 28 baby teeth. It's very common that puppies will chew and gnaw on unexpected objects to relieve their discomfort. One of these objects may be their leash when taking them out on a walk. One they reach 7 months of age, they will most likely have fully developed their 42 adult teeth. If this is not the case, it's recommended they be taken to the veterinarian for a check-up.
Nevertheless, this is a common cause on why puppies chew their leash. They're simply trying to calm down their teething pain. To learn more about how to train your puppy, read our article on how to teach a puppy not to bite.
They don't like their leash
Another common reason why your puppy or dog may be biting their leash is because they have not yet been accustomed to walking with a leash. It can take some time for them to understand and get used to being tied when walking outside. It may be frustrating for a little pup with a lot of energy that just wants to run around the park. They might even bite the leash in rebellion because they want more freedom of movement. It's difficult to have them understand that it's for their own safety. So we may simply need to be patient and wait for them to get used to their leash or we can also train them to walk by our side and not need the leash in certain places.
Read more about how to train your dog to walk without a leash on our article.
How to train your dog or puppy to stop biting their leash
Now that you have determined the cause of your dog's behavior, it's time to see how you can solve this and teach them not to bite their leash. As we've previously mentioned, there are three main reasons why your puppy may be biting their leash. So now we will propose solutions to these common reasons and give you a leash training method that may also help you, whatever the reason it may be.
When it comes to playful puppies, we must simply take their attention off the leash and provide them with an alternative. This way we can teach them the leash is not a toy and show they which toys they can play with. For example, next time the begin to play with their leash you can follow these instructions:
- Firstly, grab the leash firmly so they stop shaking it around
- Present an alternative toy. For example, you can shake a teething toy or a rope next to them so they find it more appealing and see that you approve of that toy.
- To further help them understand, you can reward them. Once they bite the alternative toy, you can give them a little treat. This way, they will associate biting the toy with a positive experience and next time will directly go to the toy for entertainment or chewing.
After a certain time, your puppy will understand that the leash is not for entertainment or gnawing. They will simply go to their toys for those purposes. We must note that scolding our puppy will only bring negative consequences in their behavior and will cause future problems for them as a grown adult. By using positive reinforcement we will help our puppy learn through good experiences and be happy and healthy dog.
Lack of stimulation
In the case of dogs that are lacking mental or physical stimulation, what we want to do to solve their biting behavior is provide them with the attention and entertainment needed to reach their needs.
This may include:
- New toys
- Intelligence games
- Put music on for them
- Dog training
- Dos sports, depending on their age and breed
- Play more games
- Longer walks
- Interaction with other dogs
- Take them to visit a new place
Each dog is different and will require different things to maintain their over-all well being. Take the time to get to know your dog, their personality and their demands. Another key factor that may help a bored dog is environmental enrichment.
As we've mentioned before, it's possible that your puppy is simply rebelling against using the leash. This is simply because they want more freedom to move and run around, however they don't understand that we use the leash to protect them. In this case, they will probably just need to get used to having the leash on their walks. This may take some time but it is a common behavior in puppies. Here are some tips:
- Allow them to play freely in a confined environment, for example your backyard
- Begin to train them to walk without a leash, learn more here
- Tire them by playing before they go on a walk, this way they won't be so hyperactive
This technique, called “desensitization and counter-conditioning” can help you correct any behavioral problems your dog may have. This process consists on putting your dog's collar an leash on for a short time and then reward him with a healthy treat. This will help them associate wearing the leash to something positive. Little by little you will see how your dog gets used to having the leash on and is no longer bothered by it.
To teach them to walk properly with the leash on, you first practice indoors. Move around with your dog or puppy on a leash and reward him for staying by your side. If they pull and reach the leash tightens, stay still and wait for them to come back next to you. When they do, you can reward them again with a small healthy treat. Then, you can do the same thing outdoors. To learn more, read our article about how to prevent your dog from pulling from his leash or our article on how to teach your dog to walk beside you.
Get a professional's help
Lastly, if you cannot correct your dog's behavior with these tips, we recommend you go to a professional. An ethologist will be able to cater to your dog's special needs, character and personality. They will help you asses the situation and tell you what you can do. A canine trainer would also be a good option that can provide you with help in this situation.
When dog companions observe this behavior, one of the main concerns is whether this can pose a risk to their dog's health. Is it safe for a dog to chew on their leash?
Unfortunately it could be an issue if your dog mistakenly swallows and eats a part of their leash. Many leashes are made with plastic nowadays or other dangerous materials. This is why we need to be very careful when our dog bites and chews their leash. We need to make sure that this doesn't happen as it can cause a risk to their health.
Another problem is if your dog is able to break the leash. Most dogs will run wherever they desire without thinking of the consequences that may follow. Perhaps you're at a calm park with people and other animals, or perhaps you were taking a stroll around the city block and there are nearby cars, bicycles and people. In either cases we are going to be very worried that something may happen to our dog or puppy.
If you want to read similar articles to Why Does my Puppy Bite Their Leash?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.