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How To Train A Belgian Malinois Puppy Not To Bite

You’ve just welcomed a Belgian Malinois puppy into your home, only to discover they love a good bite. Well, I shouldn’t say good. It isn’t really, is it?! So, how can you stop them biting? How long will it roughly take? What are the best techniques? Well, that is exactly what we will be covering here today.

So, how do you train a Belgian Malinois puppy not to bite? You won’t be able to stop a Belgian Malinois puppy from biting completely, but you can reduce the amount of biting significantly by teaching them to control their impulses. Training certain commands is also effective, as is taking them to puppy classes.

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How To Train A Belgian Malinois Puppy Not To Bite

To help your Belgian Malinois puppy bite less, you can try a combination of teaching them to mouth gently and control their impulses. You can also teach your pup replacement behaviors and encourage them to herd objects while playing games. Puppy classes are a good means of exploring these avenues.

Play Gently With Your Puppy

Puppies like Belgian Malinois are likely to bite more when they’re engaged in rough play.

Any puppy can bite when too excited because it becomes more difficult for them to control their natural impulses to bite and nip, and Belgian Malinois can bite more than most.

Make sure you play gently with your puppy when your pup is calm, and if you have young children, show them how to softly stroke your puppy at quiet times.

Suppose your Belgian Malinois is around children who are running and shouting while playing.

In that case, its natural herding instincts are likely to show themselves, resulting in nipping and biting (or worse, biting and holding on firmly!)

Keep your pup indoors when children (and adults) are running around.

Teach Your Puppy How To Control Impulses

For Belgian Malinois puppies, teaching impulse control is crucial. These dogs have a very strong “bite and hold” instinct: after all, these dogs have been bred to herd as well as hunt.

Here’s how you can reinforce calm behaviors in your pup while helping it develop impulse control:

  • Help your puppy learn to walk nicely on the leash (puppy classes will include tips for this, see above).
  • Establish yourself as the leader in your puppy’s eyes by having your pup sit before you put the leash on, give food or cuddles, before tossing a ball, etc.
  • Have your puppy only start eating on your command. To do this, have him sit. Ask him to stay while you put the bowl on the floor. Have him remain in a stay for a beat or two before giving him a command that says he can eat (such as “Go!” or similar).
  • Play games that stimulate your Belgian Malinois’ intelligent brain. Include lots of physical activity, as this breed has a lot of energy.

Note: Always remember to take into account your puppy’s age when planning activities. Although Belgian Malinois (and all puppies) have lots of energy, be mindful that younger puppies should not be doing highly strenuous activities (like long runs, repetitive jumping, climbing stairs, hikes, etc.) Once their growth plates have closed, you can then take on some of these high-energy activities. If your puppy does too much exercise too soon, he can develop health problems later in life (like arthritis) because the bones haven’t had time to set.

Be sure your pup gets enough rest, too: even if your puppy wants to keep on playing, he might nip or bite if he gets cranky and tired.

Puppies will play until they literally fall down from exhaustion, so make sure your pup has a place to rest with a safe chew toy.

You can use a puppy crate or put him behind a child gate, perhaps in the same room with you so he doesn’t feel lonely, but all puppies need lots of sleep to grow.

Help Your Belgian Malinois Learn To Mouth Gently

Belgian Malinois aren’t known for having much mouth control, so it’s essential to help your pup learn to mouth gently. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Armed with thick gloves, hold a treat or small piece of kibble between your thumb and middle finger. Allow the edge of the treat to protrude a bit.
  2. Gently insert the treat in your puppy’s mouth, but keep holding onto it (make sure the gloves are thick enough!)
  3. If your puppy starts to bite roughly, don’t release the treat. Speak to your pup in a calm voice without making any movement. Wait for him to start nibbling softly.
  4. Once he is softly mouthing your hand, let go of the treat while praising him.
  5. Repeat this exercise several times, using a verbal cue when you put the treat in his mouth, such as “Gentle”.

Note: Always do this exercise when your puppy is calm, preferably after he’s had a good amount of exercise. You don’t want to make any movements while you have the treat in his mouth because movement can spark your pup’s biting impulses.

Use Replacement Behaviors To Teach Your Puppy Alternatives To Biting

You can train your puppy in replacement behavior, which is behavior that is not compatible with biting. Here’s what you can try:

  1. Carry a bag of treats with you at all times. If you don’t want your pup eating too many calories or you are concerned about possible digestive upset, carry pieces of kibble instead.
  2. Get your pup to target a long stick (or your hands). When your pup complies, toss a piece of kibble across the room for him to chase while you give him praise. You are aiming for your puppy to touch your hands or the stick with his nose without nipping.
  3. Reward your puppy in a similar way when he does other things you want, such as sitting on your command, maintaining eye contact with you, etc. The best way to do this is walk away while you toss a piece of kibble in the opposite direction for him to chase.
  4. During the learning process, you can further help your puppy with interactive games, such as tug-of-war or using a favorite toy attached to a string. Food dispensing toys are also handy ways to get your pup thinking, particularly if the food dispenser requires your pup to target part of it or perform an action to get the kibble.

Play Games That Encourage Your Pup’s Herding Instinct

Belgian Malinois have been bred to herd and can also make good hunters.

You can play games with your pup that will allow him to make the most of his innate desire to herd and hunt.

Games like Treibball are particularly good, since your pup will get to learn to “herd” large balls into a soccer net. Here’s how to teach your pup to play Treibball:

  1. Teach your pup to target your hand (a clicker is highly effective for this).
  2. Once your pup knows how to target your hand, put a sticky note on an open door of a cabinet and get him to target that
  3. Next, have your pup target the door with enough force so that he can learn to close it.
  4. Now put a sticky note on one of the large balls and encourage your pup to push it with his nose. He’ll push the ball a short distance at first, but you can help him work up to pushing it further and further along (you can stand opposite him and get him to push it to you. Belgian Malinois are very smart dogs, so he’ll get the idea fairly quickly!)
  5. Remove the sticky note and watch your pup herd the balls into the net. He’ll probably enjoy it even more if you’re standing next to the net to praise him.

Get Your Pup to Puppy Classes

Puppy classes are one of the easiest things to do to help your Belgian Malinois puppy not bite as much.

With this breed, it’s essential to show them who is ‘top dog’, and puppy classes will help you do that while teaching your pup how to behave.

Belgian Malinois puppies, like all puppies, need socialization early on in their lives to learn how to interact with people and other animals. Puppy classes will give your puppy much-needed stimulation and attention from other puppies and people.

In fact, puppies who attend classes are usually more amenable to training.

By bringing your puppy to classes, you are helping your Belgian Malinois get used to people who:

  • Have differing amounts of facial hair
  • Come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds
  • Are of varying heights and ages
  • Have more or less mobility (perhaps some use canes, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • Carry other things such as glasses, umbrellas, canes, hats, etc.

To choose the best puppy classes for your Belgian Malinois, look for ones that go over other things apart from common commands, such as “sit,” “stay” and “down.”

Make sure the classes you choose are:

  • Allowing puppies to interact and play together (with controlled and supervised interactions)
  • Offering gradual exposure to new smells, sounds, sights, and noises, as well as teaching puppies to exchange objects (this last point is essential to avoid resource guarding, which is often a precursor to aggressive behavior)
  • Using positive training methods that keep all puppies safe and allow shyer puppies the space they need among more boisterous individuals
  • Including handling exercises and restraint practice to help your pup control impulses
  • Requiring proof of vaccinations
  • Offering you the chance to visit a class before you sign up so that you can watch how the instructor interacts with the puppies and owners
  • Recipients of good online reviews (or positive reviews from people you know)

Why Does My Belgian Malinois Bite So Much?

Belgian Malinois can bite more than other breeds because of their herding instincts, high intelligence, and desire to finish a task. Some strategies like walking away to deny them attention might work with other breeds, but not always with this one: redirection tends to work better.

Belgian Malinois Were Bred To Herd

Because they were bred to herd, Belgian Malinois have a strong instinct to nip and bite at other animals to keep them in line.

They are determined animals who like to be in charge, so you need to earn their respect.

This is why it’s essential for Belgian Malinois to have lots of opportunities to socialize as puppies to avoid aggressive behaviors later on.

The more your dog is used to other people, animals, and situations, the less likely he’ll be to bite or nip out of stress, too.

Belgian Malinois are Highly Intelligent

Belgian Malinois will quickly learn that one event leads to another – they are very clever dogs. If your pup bites you and then stops and you give them a treat as a reward, your pup might decide to continue to bite and then stop to get more rewards.

These dogs need lots of intellectual stimulation, physical exercise, and interaction with their people – and they’ll get these things any way they can.

Yelping Or Walking Away Often Doesn’t Work

Puppies will let each other know when nipping or biting is too much by letting out a yelp, which is our way of saying, “Ouch!” They learn that biting too hard will lose them a playmate.

However, this doesn’t mean you yelping will work with your pup: puppies sometimes interpret a yelp as the sound of a hurt animal, which can excite them further.

In your puppy’s eyes, you may have become a very fun toy that squeaks!

Your pup might even latch onto you and bite down harder, which is the last thing you want!

If you try and move away when your puppy nips you, this can also lead to problems: movement can trigger their herding instincts which can lead to more nipping.

Even if you walk away and leave your pup alone, he may decide those moments of excitement were worth being left alone afterward.

Even if you leave the room, your puppy might feel the momentary attention and stimulation was worth it.

Using Toys As Distractions Doesn’t Always Work

If you try to use toys to distract your Belgian Malinois puppy from nipping, he’s smart enough to think about nipping again once he’s finished with the toy(!)

Reasons for this could be:

  • He’s bored with the toy.
  • The toy lacks what he most needs: unpredictable, continuous movement (like prey or a herded animal).
  • He likes the reward of sounds, like the ones you make when you walk away!

Make sure the toy you offer your pup can give more stimulation than nipping – look for toys that:

  • Move in unexpected ways.
  • Require engagement from your pup – and that offer a reward when he engages. For example, food-dispensing toys that require him to push a lever.
  • Make your pup think to get his reward (toys like a Kong Wobbler, a Buster Cube, or an IQ treat ball that’s stuffed with something he likes to eat).

Keep these types of toys on hand with you at all times while your pup is learning not to nip as much so that you can always redirect his attention when you need to.

Your pup will learn that these toys provide more rewards than you walking away or ignoring him. He’ll learn that nipping or biting people doesn’t get him as much of a reward.

Note: To ensure your pup sees these toys as more rewarding, a good tip is to freeze in place once you’ve redirected him to a toy.

When You May Want Additional Help

If any of the below situations apply to you, consult a professional dog behaviorist so that you can keep everyone safe while your puppy learns:

  • Your Belgian Malinois bites you hard enough to break your skin
  • Your puppy repeatedly holds on tight when biting (for instance, when you try teaching him to mouth gently by using gloves, see above)
  • You have young children in your house
  • Other animals are being bullied or hurt by your puppy

Is It Normal for Belgian Malinois Puppies To Bite?

It’s normal for all puppies to nip and bite, although more so with breeds like the Belgian Malinois, given their characteristics (see above). By the time your puppy is eight weeks old he should have limited his nipping to some degree thanks to his mom and littermates, but these dogs will always have an instinct to nip and bite.

When your puppy comes to your home, he will need to learn what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t, and that includes biting or nipping.

Our skin is softer than that of their littermates, so puppies won’t be used to having to be quite so gentle.

Because nipping and biting tend to happen more often when puppies are excited, your pup may experience lots of overwhelmed emotions with so many new things to see and experience.

Puppies are so excited and aroused by their new homes that they can nip more than when they were with their mom.

You can best help your Belgian Malinois by teaching him good habits from a very young age to avoid future problems.

Because these dogs are so smart and they are natural herders, it’s normal for them to bite.

While you can’t eradicate this behavior entirely, you can teach your dog what’s OK to bite (e.g., toys) and what isn’t (e.g., you!)

As your puppy learns he can get stimulation from other activities, he’ll be able to limit his nipping and biting.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Belgian Malinois Puppy to Stop Biting?

Because of his instincts and background, it’s unrealistic (if not impossible) to expect your Belgian Malinois to stop biting entirely. However, with redirecting your puppy and training him in additional skills, you can manage his biting behavior. The length of time this process will take depends on your puppy’s personality and your circumstances (some dogs are more stubborn, shyer, or more eager to please than others).

Belgian Malinois are natural nippers and biters since they have been bred to herd livestock.

They are thinking dogs who have the determination to get other animals to do what they want them to do.

Because you have an independent thinker on your hands, you will need to show your puppy how he can get rewards and pleasure from other behaviors apart from biting.

While your puppy is teething (which begins at around three weeks of age), he will nip and chew more than usual since he’s trying to relieve pressure and pain in his gums.

The most painful part of the process is often from 12 to 16 weeks old, so be sure you provide safe things for your puppy to chew on to help him feel better.

By the time your puppy is around 6 months old he should have all of his adult teeth, so his teething behavior will come to an end.

He will still need safe things to bite and chew on, though.


Belgian Malinois puppies are certainly biters.

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost; you certainly can, and should, implement different things to help them control it.

Besides, it will make for a much better-behaved dog, in general.

And let’s be honest, it will also make for a much happier home.

Puppy Biting eBook

Do You Want To Learn How To Stop Your Puppy Biting, For Good?

Get my instantly downloadable eBook and learn the two most effective techniques that I have learned from dog trainers and behavioral specialists and that I have personally used to teach 4 puppies to stop biting.

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