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Puppy Biting

How do I deal with my puppy when he bites?

#1 GROWLING
Puppy-biting and other unacceptable, but very natural behaviors: With very young dogs, you can usually get instant (if temporary) attention by placing your hand over their muzzle, pressing down, and growling ----- yes, growling. "Grrrrrrrrr" This is what a mother dog does to let her pup know that certain behavior won't be tolerated. It isn't to be a frightening growl but more of an "informative" one: "No, dear, that is *not* something you're allowed to do."

#2 SQUEALING
Puppy-biting, mouthing: The quickest, easiest and most effective correction is often mimicking the behavior of a puppy's littermates when they are played with too roughly: SQUEAL (the more piercingly the better) and go away. It's instantaneous, unpleasant (loud noise and isolation), and is something that even young children can do and will often to instinctively. Just make sure the "going away" isn't at a run therefore turning it into a fun chase-me game.

#3 SHAKING
If he does nip at other times, grab the scruff of his neck and give him a little shake and a firm "NO!"

#4 STAYING STILL/LEAVING
We tell them to be gentle with their puppies and treat them calmly. When their puppy starts mouthing or biting them we advise them to hold still, don't move, don't talk or even look at their puppy. The puppy usually becomes bored and moves on to something else. When the puppy stops mouthing them, they can resume petting again, if they like, but perferably not around the head. If the puppy bites hard, to quit playing and if necessary leave the puppy.

#5 DISTRACTION
Start teaching the puppy retrieve or hide n seek or other suitable games and simply refuse to play biting games.

#6 DISCOMFORT
When the puppy bites your hand, make it an uncomfortable, unpleasant experience for him. Do *not* give a voice correction (voices are reinforcing as a general rule) and don't even look at him, so it seems that the "feedback" is simply coming from this thing that he is biting. Make your hand a hard fist that is too big for his mouth; slip his lip underneath a tooth so that when he bites down he is the victim; "trap" his mouth under the jaw or over the nose and hold with firm pressure until after he wants to withdraw. (Caution: this should NOT be carried out by children or by an adult when they are at all angry. It should be a direct, unemotional action/reaction between the puppy and the hand, which he learns is something that is no fun to bite. Example: Most puppies learn very early on not to bite a person's face because when, as babies, they are held up to a face and bite it, the person instinctively whirls the puppy away and down. They probably start to believe that biting a face = going on an uncomfortable roller coaster ride. The goal here is to make biting a face = discomfort in jaw, lip, chin, or nose.)

#7 THINGS **NOT** TO DO
Many of the things we do only escalate the problem - they are seen as part of a game:

  1. Yelling "No"
  2. Shaking a finger
  3. Rapping on the nose
  4. Slapping
  5. Grabbing
  6. Shaking
  7. Don't do things that increase the chances for puppy to bite.

  8. Playing, especially with rapid movements, around the dogs face and mouth
  9. Playing tug-of-war games
  10. Dangling objects for the puppy to snap at and catch with his mouth.

 
This page was last modified at 19:08:26 on 08/14/2006.