In January, Petfinder held a live Q&A on Facebook with pet trainers Andrea Arden and Mychelle Blake. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some of our favorite questions and answers here on the blog. Have a pet question? Check back regularly for news about our next live Q&A!
Q: I have a 10-week-old male kitten who is biting a lot. He has not been neutered yet. Will he stop after he is? I have tried the water bottle and also blowing in his face gently, but neither has seemed to cure this issue. — Kami H.
A: Hi Kami. You need to add in another component to the training, which is providing him with a behavior that you want and then reinforcing that.
Why the water bottle won’t work
The water bottle or blowing only tells him to stop but doesn’t given him enough information about what things you want him to engage in instead.
Understanding why kittens bite
Biting in kittens is similar to biting behavior in puppies. It’s not about aggression, it’s about youngsters using their mouths to explore their environments. If we’re lucky, their mothers or litter mates teach them to inhibit this behavior. But sometimes they don’t learn from their litters that this is not acceptable.
How to stop your kitten from biting
The next time he bites you, say “OW!” loudly and get up immediately, walk away and ignore him. You are teaching him that biting leads to a loss of your attention. Second step, whenever he doesn’t bite you when you play, praise him for this with a treat, toy or anything he likes. Eventually he will learn that play with biting leads to a loss of you and play without biting leads to continued fun and attention.
Mychelle Blake, MSW, CDBC Pet Trainer and APDT Deputy Director Las Vegas, NV