How to Stop a Cocker Spaniel Puppy Biting

May 27, 2022

Like all dogs cocker spaniel puppies can bite. This can be cute but also quite painful. While this behaviour is normal its not a habit you will want your puppy getting into.

Adorable nipping puppies do can be quite dangerous if you have an adult cocker spaniel with this habit. They can generate quite a lot of power in their jaw. Good to have this sorted before your cocker has their adult teeth in at around eight months old.

It is vital that your puppy develops bite inhibition at a young age. Aim to have this sorted by four to five months old.

It's really easy to conclude that your puppy biting is a sign of aggression. However, this is not the case. They are just doing what comes naturally and its often related to teething.

Cocker spaniel puppies use their mouth to explore the world, learn about their environment, or playing.

As mentioned teething can play a big role here too. Those teeth coming through hurts and your pup will seek relief from anything. Your sofa, rug, skirting boards, TV remote, slippers, or even your fingers.

Now, that paints quite a bleak picture. The good news is that there is plenty you can do about this. Cocker spaniels are really smart dogs and are always keen to learn and please their owners.

Keep reading to learn how to stop your puppy from biting and save those fingers!

Biting vs Mouthing

Biting and mouthing are both normal behaviours for puppies. Especially when they are just puppies and at the teething stage.

Puppies use mouthing to explore their environment, used in play or when interacting with other dogs. It is mostly seen in puppies than adult dogs and is often related to teething.

Biting its a little harder than mouthing and can be more painful. This is where the importance of teaching bite inhibition to a puppy takes centre stage.

Adult dogs biting is actually the most common reason that dogs are rehomed. A sad fact but one that helps emphasise how important this is.

What Does Bite Inhibition Mean?

So, we've talked a little about the importance of teaching your cocker spaniel puppy bite inhibition.

But what does that actually mean?

Bite inhibition is your dogs ability to control how hard (of soft) they bite. Puppies often naturally learn this from their mothers and other puppies in their litter.

Think of this like a bit of a crash course in puppy manners.

Where Can your Dog Learn Bite Inhibition From?

There are quite a few different places a puppy can learn bite inhibition from. From an impatient mother, more socialisation, to a wide range of at home training methods there is no shortage of ways to curb that behaviour.

Actively helping your puppy from developing bad habits can help them form carrying bad habits forward into adulthood.

Let's run through the options available in more depth.

Mother and Puppies in Litter

This is one of the best ways for your dog to learn how to behave.

If a puppy bites their mother a bit hard she may yelp, growl, or grab the pup by the scruff, or even ignore them for a bit. All of these actions are to signal to the little one that this is not acceptable behaviour.

Playing with other puppies in the little can also help your little cocker learn bite inhibition. If a puppy bites another puppy they might yelp and stop playing. As all puppies love to play they will start to understand if they want to play they have to be more gentle.

These situations can make a little dog stop and think. Cocker Spaniels are smart. They'll quite quickly draw the connection between biting and negative results and learn.

These are all great reasons not to take puppies away from a litter too early.


Much like how biting can be curbed in litter with mothers and puppies the same can be achieved through actively socialising your dog early on. Puppy play is a fantastic way for your cocker spaniel to learn bite inhibition naturally.

Having that direct feedback from other dogs your cocker spaniel will quickly learn what is acceptable and not. Over time the learn to have a softer mouth.

One think to consider is to be conscious if your cocker spaniel is playing with larger dog who have not yet learned bite inhibition. A nip from a little dog and larger dog can be quite different.

Work on Bite Inhibition at Home

There are several ways to help your cocker spaniel stop biting at home. If your pup is showing signs of biting after leaving the litter just know there are several ways to address this at home.

No matter which method you try the key is to be consistent. Cocker spaniels are smart dogs and are quick on the uptake.

Play with your Puppy

This method is essentially trying to replicate how the mother deals with the puppy in the litter.

Unfortunately, you will have to sacrifice your hand to be nibbled on to use this method.

Start by playing with your puppy with your hand. Keep going until they nip you a little too hard. Straight away you'll want to yelp loudly and have your hand go limp then Stop playing immediately.

After this use a disapproving tone and let your cocker spaniel puppy know they hurt you. Even saying "ouch" will do fine.

Try to overreact here - go for an Oscar winning performance.

This will register with your dog and they are taken back a little bit. After this you will want to ignore them for a bit (10 minutes should do).

Repeat this until it fully sets in.

Trade your Fingers for a Toy

Start by playing with your dog with your hand like the last method. This helps recreate the conditions where your cocker spaniel puppy is likely to get excited and bite while your playing.

Once they bite give the dog into trouble and give them a toy to bite instead. Just like the other methods you will need to do this consistently to positively reinforce this behaviour.

This method also works for your dog chewing things they shouldn't.

Put Citrus on your Fingers

Another angle to take when your fingers are the prey. Before baiting your pup into biting your fingers rub a lemon or lime wedge on them. Dogs dislike the acidic taste of citrus. It really won't take long for your pup to find their toys are better to chew.

Also another method that works for unwanted chewing.

Hold your Puppies Jaw Closed

Another method is when your puppy bites to lightly hold their jaw closed. Keep it closed for around 10-20 seconds and let them go.

This won't hurt your dog just stops them from biting you.

Grab by the Scruff

Another way of replicating how the mother deals with an unruly pup.

After being bit yelp loudly, say 'ouch' in the same tone described before and grab the pup by the loose skin behind their neck for a few seconds firmly and release.

Only grab firmly don't shake or pull the dog. After this give the dog a toy and a good scratch.

Stay Consistent

No matter which of these methods you choose to use stick to one at a time. Mixing it up too often can confuse your little cocker spaniel and hurt progress.

From my own experience it can take around a month to start seeing real change. All dogs learn at different paces though.

There are combinations of the above which do work together such as socialisation paired with a home technique. Just don't try a few of the home methods at once.

Keep it up and you'll find your cocker spaniel puppy begins to bite more gently. Of course the main goal here is to stop biting entirely.

Any progress is a win really.

Above tips not working?

Are you at wits end with your pup's biting?

All is not lost. But it might be time to get support professional dog trainers in your area.

Sometimes cocker spaniels can be a little stubborn and an expert in dog training will have the experience and insights to make progress with your puppies persistent biting.

Does Teething Make a Puppy Bite?

Yes. Just like human babies puppies teeth, and that's a painful process.

This starts when they are around 12 weeks old and continues until they are around 6-8 months old until 6-8 months when they have their adult teeth. You'll definitely want that bite inhibition set before those come in!

Teeth coming through is sore and biting down can ease that a a little. This can be a main reason that your cocker spaniel puppy bites, is mouthing, or chews.

There are ways you can make this easier for your dog with teething rings to help soothe those sore gums. Definitely preferable to the TV remote.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Biting Best Practices

We've covered quite a lot in this article but what are the main practices you should consider for your stopping your cocker spaniel from biting.

First up is being consistent with training. It takes time for a dog to learn. Be patient and understand that all dogs are different and puppy biting will be resolved easily if you can stay consistent with training.

Never let puppy biting go unchecked. It's another way of losing ground.

When playing try to avoid any aggressive games like tug-of-war until your dog is further along in their training.

Make sure that everyone in your household is on the same page. The last thing you want to do is lose progress by sending mixed messages.

This also applies to visitors. If you have friends come round make sure they are clear on how to act if the puppy bites when playing.

Also, make sure you praise good behaviour. Positive reinforcement is the easiest way to break through to a cocker spaniel puppy. They have an incredibly gentle nature and don't respond well to harsh treatment.

If your dog does get it wrong don't punish them. As just mentioned they won't understand and don't learn this way. It could even have more serious consequences of making your cocker afraid of you.


All puppies use biting or mouthing to communicate, learn, play, or to deal with teething.

This is something you will want to deal with promptly and not become a habit your still dealing with when your dog is an adult. Aim to have this taken care of by the time your cocker spaniel is four to five months old.

Some of the hard work here can be taken care of by the mother but you will likely have to address this when you get your puppy home.

Begin working on this from day one and be consistent. As we've went through above there are plenty of easy to implement methods you can try to stop puppy biting.

If all else fails speak with an dog trainer or book an appointment with your vet to get some advice on dog behaviour, these guys are the real pro's.

If you have an adult dog biting problem you'll want to consult a dog trainer and not tackle it yourself.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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