Bonding with a Puppy or Kitten Who Wants to Roughhouse

Puppies and kittens are absolutely adorable!

Those tiny faces, that puppy/kitten fur and breath…oh and those vicious little teeth.

Yes, along with the total delight that comes with having a puppy or kitten, there may also be some pain involved. Puppies and kittens can often play rougher than us humans are used to. Sometimes all we want to do is cuddle with them, but all they want to do is bite.

As frustrating as this can be, it’s all part of growing up. And there are a few things you can do to help your puppy or kitten learn less painful (for you) behavior while encouraging bonding time.

Start Early

Start gently handling your new puppy or kitten right away. Pet him and help him get used to this type of bonding whenever you can. Always keep it positive. If he starts biting or playing rough, stop petting him.

Avoid Playing with Limbs

Puppies and kittens will often naturally want to attack your hands and feet because they’re what they see moving around and toward them most often. To counteract this, avoid playing with your hands and feet directly. If he attacks your feet, roll a ball for him to chase in the opposite direction, for instance. And don’t let him chew on your hands.

Chew Toys

Have an assortment of nontoxic chew toys readily available that you can quickly swap out for your finger when your puppy or kitten wants to gnaw. Make sure you find safe toys made from materials like natural rubber and cotton that are the appropriate size and suited for a puppy or kitten. Some toys are also freezable, which can be soothing to teething puppies and kittens. As your puppy or kitten chews his toy, take the opportunity to pet him.

©istockphoto/MW47

©istockphoto/MW47

Chase Time

When all your pet wants to do is attack you, switch up the activity. He clearly has the energy for some intense play. Throw a toy for him to chase until he wears himself out. A fun way to get your kitten to expend some of that energy is by having him chase around a cat teaser wand. But don’t let him push himself too hard; puppies and kittens can often play past exhaustion without even knowing it.

Take Advantage of Down Time

Whenever you see your pet resting comfortably, take advantage of the opportunity to sit quietly next to him and pet him soothingly. Do this as much as possible to get him used to the activity. Always keep it pleasant and don’t force anything. If he wants to get up and move away, let him.

Timeouts

Sometimes your puppy or kitten will fixate on attacking you relentlessly. A timeout may be in order. But don’t leave him alone in isolation. Place him somewhere comfortable—his pen, or crate if he enjoys it—with his toys in the same room with you. The point is to settle him down and have him play with appropriate toys, not punish him.

Puppies and kittens are very cute, but they can also decide they want to use you as a chew toy. Help prevent bad habits from forming while still promoting bonding with these easy tips.

Meet the Author: Jessica Peralta

Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.

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