Welcome to our new weekly feature coming to you from Chantele, head trainer with Boneheadz K9 Training!
We all love puppies but puppy teeth can feel like tiny needles stabbing into your skin (with love of course!). So how do you train your new family member to stop treating you like a living chew toy?
Why is your puppy biting?
Just like a human child, your puppy puts objects in their mouth to learn about the world around them. For puppies under 5 months, nipping is typically meant as a form of play but more serious biting can be a way for your dog to communicate frustration.
Mouthing and biting is a form of play that your dog would have engaged in with their litter mates, leading them to believe that this is how they should play with their new human family.
For puppies over 5 months, they may be starting to test their boundaries and assert dominance.
Now that we know some of the reasons behind your puppy becoming a biting gremlin, what do we do about it?
How to Stop It
Reinforce Positive Behaviour
Although it may be difficult and seem like a form of torture more for you than your pup (we get it, puppies are delightful), only pet your pup when they are calm. They do not have to be practically asleep calm, but not trying to put your hand/arm/leg in their mouth is important to get some scratches.
When your pup starts to bite, do not continue to engage in play, particularly any play that has your hands in their mouth (no opportunity equals no biting). You can take a timeout by taking them for a walk or allowing them to have a nap.
If your pup starts nipping, let out a loud 'ow!'. You can also give them a toy to chomp on instead of you.
Dogs are great at letting one another know when the play is too hard. it is important for your pup to have some friends to learn about bite inhibition (what biting is too hard).
Exercise and REST!
A tired dog is a good dog. If your puppy has lots of exercise, they will not be biting out of boredom. A sleepy puppy can be a cranky, nipping puppy so follow up all that exercising fun with a nice nap (you probably need one too!).
For all the wonderful joy a puppy brings, the red teeth wounds do not have to be the trade off. It is also important to remember that if your beloved furry critter is willing to gnaw on you, they will be willing to nip a child. Teach your puppy how to play nicely for the sake of your human babies and your baby soft skin!
Do you have more training questions? Contact Chantele at Boneheadz K9 Training here.