Puppy Biting

As Bernard approaches the age of fourteen weeks, we are still suffering the wrath of the razor sharp teeth! When we were at an event over the weekend a girl came up to him to pet, and he nipped her hand. She was shocked that she had gotten “bitten”. I explained that he was just a puppy and that is what they do. He meant no harm; in fact he has to do that in order to learn not to do it! She looked at me like I was crazy, and I her, as she had been nipped by a puppy, no blood, no puncture wound, he’s a puppy, for goodness sakes!

After she left I began to think once again how so many people think dogs should know better, and should know how to act. Yes it is totally inappropriate for a dog to put their mouth on human skin, but they are not born into this world knowing that. It is up to us to teach the puppy that. Puppy biting and nipping starts very shortly after their teeth start to emerge. In the litter the puppies bite each other, and they bite their parents. This is where they learn what we call bite inhibition. They need to learn their own strength of their mouth. When they bite to hard, the other puppies will yelp or whine. The puppy that has been bitten will usually leave, which is not what the biting puppy wants! They quickly teach each other how to act appropriately together. Remember, dogs don’t communicate verbally so this physical way of biting is how they learn to survive with other canines.

Another reason puppies bite is for attention. If a puppy is bored and wants you to play with them, they will bite you. Bernard is great for when he wants to play he will grab your pant leg, or shirt sleeve and tug like crazy. What happens is he gets attention, as I need to get the clothes from his mouth before they get ripped. However, the key is to give the attention in a training fashion. For example, I will ask for a sit, or a down, there is no reason to yell or scream at him, that will only intensify the pulling on the clothes. Once again I tell him to do what I want him to do. I don’t waste time telling him what I don’t want him to do, because he doesn’t understand a word I am saying!

Nipping and chewing stages in a puppy are totally normal and natural. As I said before they must do this in order to learn. If they do not, as they become an adult dog it will be a problem. Dogs that are socialized as puppies and taught bite inhibition, very quickly learn acceptable behaviors. Consistency is once again the key to teaching your pup what is acceptable. That is how the littermates and their moms get it across. Think about it, every time one puppy bites another, they yelp. They let the other pup know that it hurts and they need to stop, or they will go away. So the attention the puppy is looking for is gone, every time. That is what we must do, attention must go away every single time. Even if it is just putting the puppy in a room and shut the door for 30 seconds. Take yourself away, but not for long, or the puppy will just get right into something else forgetting the lesson you are trying to teach!

If you need help training your puppy or adult dog contact Kim Paciotti at 704-877-7821 or by email at kim@trainingcanines.com  Visit our website at www.trainingcanines.com Our new dog training club is here! www.caninetrainingassociation.com

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