Sunday, April 11, 2010

Puppy Nipping and Biting, OUCH!!!! THAT HURTS!!!

Anyone that has raised a puppy knows how horrible the nipping and biting can be, it's down right painful. There are however things you can do to survive the process but it's important to first understand why puppies bite.

When puppies play with each other, they use their mouths. Therefore, puppies usually want to bite or “mouth” hands during play or when being petted. This behavior is rarely aggressive and, therefore, not intended to cause harm. Because puppies are highly motivated to exhibit this type of behavior, attempts to suppress it or stop it are unlikely to be successful unless you give your puppy an alternative behavior.
The goals of working with this normal puppy behavior are to redirect your puppy's desire to put something in her mouth, such as an acceptable chew toy, and to teach her that putting her teeth on skin is never acceptable. Encourage Acceptable Behavior
Redirect your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects by offering her a small rawhide chew bone or other type of chew toy whenever you pet her. This technique can be especially effective when children want to pet her. As you or the child reach out to scratch her with one hand, offer the chew bone with the other. This will not only help your puppy learn that people and petting are wonderful, but will also keep
her mouth busy while she’s being petted. Alternate which hand does the petting and which one has the chew bone. At first, you may need to pet or scratch your puppy for short periods of time since the longer she’s petted, the more likely she is to get excited and start to nip.

Discourage UnacceptDable Behavior
You must also teach your puppy that putting her teeth on skin is unacceptable and that nipping results in unpleasant consequences for her. Teach your puppy that nipping “turns off” all attention and social interaction with you. As soon as you feel her teeth on your skin, yelp, “OUCH” in a high-pitched voice, then ignore her for a few minutes. (In order to ignore her, you may need to leave the room, or alternatively, have her tethered by a leash while you play, so when you leave she can’t follow.) Then, try the chew toy and petting method again. It may take MANY repetitions for your puppy to understand what’s expected.
NOTE: Never leave your puppy unattended while she is tethered as she may get tangled in her leash and injure herself.

Provide A Variety of "Legal" Chewing Opportunities
The nipping and bitting phase is a normal developmental stage for all puppies and is at it's worst between 12 and 15 weeks of age. During this time try to provide your puppy with a variety of chewing outlets such as frozen stuffed Kongs, bully sticks, hard rubber toys, etc. Chewing relieves the pain of teething, stress and boredom so we don't want to deprive our puppy of opportunities to chew.

Dog-To-Dog Play
Provide your puppy with opportunties to play with well socialized adult dogs to learn bite inhibition. A young puppy can learn alot about how to properly use their mouth by playing with other well socialized dogs. It's best to keep the group size small 2-3 dogs, and NEVER allow your puppy to play with a dog that has a history of aggression or poor socoialzation.

What Doesn't Work

Contrary to what helpful friends, neighbors or even some people on TV might say, using physical force does not stop biting. There is much scientific eveidence to prove that it escalates the problem and promotes fear and aggression. You should refrain from nose bops, scruff shakes, alpha rolls, etc. These are outdated tactics that cause puppies to become anxious, fearful and therefore they feel the need to 'fight back'. There is no shortcut to the teething process, just be patient and consistent and it will pass.

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