We've just been discussing puppy biting on another thread. Take a look at http://ilovemycockapoo.com/showthread.php?t=1469
I will re-post the info here too as I'm not sure if that link will work. Not tried to link before.
We are breeders and with every puppy that leaves here we give a leaflet answering all the questions buyers have every asked us about young puppies it's an 'idiots guide' to puppy ownership. The whole thing is too long to post here but if you would like a copy just ask and I can e-mail it to you from [email protected]
. I have copied part of it below about the psychology of dogs that might be relevant.
Puppy's Place in the Family
The reason dogs are such good pets and fit so well into human society is that they are social animals by nature. Their greatest psychological need is to be part of a group. Whether it's a family of just you and puppy, or a boisterous household full of children and pets, in order to be happy your new puppy must feel secure about her place in the group.
If you watch puppies at play, you will see a lot of growling and tussling. There is more to this play fighting than meets the eye. Those little guys are already deciding who is going to be "top dog". Whether you realize it or not, something very much like this play fighting is happening at home between your puppy and the rest of the family.
To be confident and secure what puppies need most is a master they can depend on. For your dog to have a happy life and be a pleasure to own, at least one person in the family must become such a master. Dogs have no mental concept of "friends and equals". Somebody has to be boss. Assertive puppies will grow up trying to be boss, which won't make either one of you happy. A submissive puppy may spend its entire life fretting and worrying, never sure what is expected. Everything usually works out just fine automatically--puppies find their place in the family without much trouble and everyone is happy with the arrangement. If, on the other hand, you have a strongly assertive or unusually submissive pet there are some things you should keep in mind:
Working with an assertive puppy
Assertive puppies tend to immediately investigate new people and objects. They are quick to begin play fighting activities with people. When they want to be petted or fed, they are insistent and demanding. These puppies fall easily into the role of family protector because they think the people belong to them. This is well and good, but because dogs cannot really understand human society, there is soon trouble. They may try to defend you from everyone, and biting the UPS man because he invades your yard is not ok. Biting the children is not ok. The most serious problems happen when grandchildren are involved. Perceived either as an outside threat or a competitor, it is not unusual for grandchildren to be badly injured by big assertive dogs.
The training techniques used to establish your teacher-learner relationship are especially important. Remember that your dog will be much happier in the long run if he earns praise and pleasure by obeying you, not by demanding it.
It is especially important for you to be master. Do not allow your dog to nip or bite at you in a friendly way. If a puppy play bites stop the ‘game’ Immediately by holding the puppies mouth shut with a little pressure until he/she pulls away. Combine it with a gruff ‘No’ if you like. You may have to repeat this two or three times if an assertive puppy comes back at you, do it with a little firmer pressure each time. You must make the puppy choose to step away from the encounter and you become the ‘older grumpier dog’. Do not hold a grudge, when you win the moment then let it go. The next moment can be back to normal. Do not stimulate your puppy by waving your arms and acting excited or by playing tug of war. Do not become what your puppy perceives to be an equal and competitive playmate.