Friday, July 30, 2010

Training - Puppy Biting

I was talking to one of my neighbors the other day and we were talking about puppy biting and how important it is to teach puppies proper bite inhibition.

Teaching puppies as soon as possible to develop a soft mouth will help them later on when they become adult dogs. Puppies need to learn that hard bites will hurt people. Teaching proper bite inhibition will also prevent an adult dog from seriously injuring someone in an unexpected situation. For example, if a neighborhood child unknowingly pulls a dog’s tail or frightens the dog. Also when a dog gets into a stressful situation.

The way you teach proper bite inhibition is in gradual stages. It is important to do each step before you go to the next one.

Step one: First you want to teach your puppy not to hurt you and to inhibit the force of his bites. Anytime your puppy bites you when you are playing with him, say “ouch“ in a high-pitched voice. If your puppy stops biting you then praise and reward him by continuing to play with him. If, however, he does not stop biting, say “ouch” again, but a little firmer and walk away from him for a 1 minute time-out. Your puppy will learn that he will lose his playmate if he continues to bite you. After the 1 minute time-out go back and resume playing.

Step two: Once your puppy’s bites stop hurting you then it is time to teach him not to use any pressure at all when he is biting. Anytime your puppy bites you harder than usual, act like it really hurt you, even if it didn’t. Dogs really respond to our body language, so acting like your in pain along with saying, “ouch” should get the point across. Your puppy will learn that he has to be very gentle with us humans and he will soon develop a soft mouth.

Step three: Once you have go through steps one and two, it is time to teach your puppy to stop mouthing on command. Note: your puppy should not be biting at this point or using any pressure when he is mouthing. When your dog is mouthing, say "off" or "enough" and wiggle a food treat near his face. Your puppy will stop mouthing because the treat will be more interesting. When he does stop mouthing you then praise him and give him the treat. Practice this several times.

Step four: At this final step, your puppy should not initiate mouthing unless requested.

Also, it is important to brush your puppy’s teeth on a regular basis. Start brushing when he is young so he will become accustomed to it by the time he is an adult.