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HOW DO I STOP MY PUPPY FROM BITING?

       To better answer this question, let’s look at why your puppy is biting. There are several reasons for this type of unwanted behavior.

    Your puppy might be teething. Puppies learn to communicate through play, it is a natural behavior to mouth anything and everything. We as the owner are not their fellow doggy and we need to redirect this behavior. If you have an older dog in the home, you may notice your older dog correcting this behavior. We do not want to correct this behavior with punishment. We want to instead redirect the dog in a positive way. This is a behavior that if redirected correctly with toys, and rewarding the dog when it redirects to a positive behavior that most puppies outgrow. Working breeds such as German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds and herding breeds are more prone to naturally, instinctively do this. You may have a puppy nipping at your heels or trying to bite your arms and hands. This is not aggressive behavior. This is your puppy telling you in its baby brain, it has not been taught how to communicate with you and is reverting to its natural instincts of how it communicated with its puppy pack siblings.

         If you come home from work and your puppy starts puppy biting, this could be a sign of anxiety. This is your puppy’s way of showing that they are developing anxiety and possibly separation anxiety. Crate training in a positive way can teach your puppy to feel secure when you are away, and that their crate is a safe space to wait for you to return. The “Place” command also helps with not only separation anxiety but with preventing resource guarding.

What are some ways to prevent Puppy Biting?

  • Always be in control of your dog’s toys. If your dog’s toys are always spread around the floor and he has 24/7 access to them, the toy loses value to the dog. Then biting you becomes more interesting and engaging. Put the toys up and do not give access to them, unless you allow it. This keeps the toy as being a high value reward to your dog, and your dog begins to learn that all good things come from you. A teething bone or kong is a completely different story. A young puppy should have something in its kennel to provide comfort while teething. This should be in its kennel, during quiet time and will help with your kennel training.

  • Redirect the behavior. The best toys for puppy’s are soft toys. They love the soft toys that squeak. When your puppy begins to display the behavior that they are going to go into their puppy biting, get ahead of what they are going to do. Always be one step ahead of the bad behavior, no matter what that bad behavior is. Do not wait for them to settle into the behavior, as that is how long term habits are formed. When you see your puppy thinking about going into its biting, immediately give it a soft toy and make that toy more interesting than what you are. You can put the toy on a flirt pole and play with your dog. Be sure to let them win over and over.

  • Be prepared for teething. Take two pink Kongs (pink are for puppies-as color is based on hardness of each Kong, ie red is harder than pink and black is most endurant of the Kongs for heavy destroyers) and fill with peanut butter. You will want to use the peanut butter sold in pet stores or Tractor Supply. The peanut butter sold in grocery stores sometimes have harmful ingredients for pets. The pet stores have peanut butter specifically for pets. Take the peanut butter and spray it inside each kong. Place the kong inside a zip loc bag and keep inside your freezer. When you put your puppy in the kennel, place the cold Kong in its kennel. This will provide comfort for their gums. Always have one in the freezer ready to replace the next one.

  • If your puppy is still trying to bite you after you have redirected it with a toy, its time to put them in their kennel. Without any emotion or being upset, take your puppy by its collar. Walk it to the kennel, say “Kennel” or whatever your command will be for going inside the kennel. Put your puppy in the kennel, close the door, say nothing more, and walk away. Each and every time your puppy goes into its biting frenzy and you consistently repeat this, you are separating the puppy from its “pack” YOU, and the puppy is learning that it must have done an unwanted behavior.

  • Another method that you can use for puppy biting is saying “ouch” and acting like the puppy just hurt you. This mimics what their siblings would do if they bite too hard while playing, when their sibling puppy lets out a yelp. You may notice your puppy stops and stares at you trying to process what he just did. At that moment you can then redirect with a toy, and play with your puppy. Your puppy is still learning how you want to best communicate with him and just needs to be taught. If saying “ouch” and redirecting does not work, then play time is over and do the above method of putting your puppy away in the crate.

  • Biting is asking for your attention and shows your puppy’s mind is open for engagement. This is also an opportunity to have your clicker and treat pouch ready! If you are in our puppy classes, you have learned how to properly redirect with food. You can redirect with some very basic puppy training: introducing the clicker to your puppy, asking for a sit and/or follow your hand or practice your recall and/or place with your puppy.

 

         A puppy is a blank slate, with a never-ending journey filled with fun and opportunities! Do not cut your puppy’s potential short and do not correct for him not understanding the proper way to communicate with you. The easiest time in your entire dog’s life to shape and build positive behavior is when you bring them home at around 8 weeks of age. We tell our puppy owners to have fun with the training and to capture these moments and build good behaviors that will later help prevent the bad behaviors.

Constance Baker

KnightWatch K9 Pet Training

Copyright KnightWatch K9 2019

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