Warm weather has finally started to show itself here in Northeast Ohio and with that comes the first round of “puppy season.” Day one of Puppy Manners Class I always ask what some problems are you’re experiencing the number one response is “biting.”
The first thing you need to understand is nipping is a natural behavior for puppies. Since puppies don’t have thumbs their mouths are how they play and explore their environment. As they begin to teethe, they need appropriate things to chew on. While it may be cute in the beginning this is not a behavior you want to continue into adulthood.
Listed below you will find a few suggestions on ways you can nip this behavior.
- Inhibit the biting – when a puppy latches on or bites too hard let your hand go limp and give them a verbal cue such as “ouch” or a loud yelp sound. These mimic natural behaviors puppies exhibit in a whelping box at a young age among its’ siblings. Once they release, ignore them for ten seconds or so, then continue to play. Try not to pull away from the bite as this can entice them to chase and what to continue the nipping. This method will begin to show the puppy that rough play stops the fun.
- Distraction before reaction – distract your puppy or redirect your puppy before it has the chance to react to the stimulus (i.e. your hand). Some things you might try to do would be to encourage a game of fetch, hide and seek, or tug of war. The goal is to give your puppy something else for entertainment before it displays the unwanted behavior, in this case nipping.
- Deterrence – first make sure your puppy has an assortment of safe toys made for your puppy’s temperament or breed. Providing alternatives to direct contact play should nip the need to want to nip on human hands and fingers. With that being said please remember to still engage with your puppy as appropriate human contact is a vital part of socializing your puppy. Another deterrent may be to invest in a product like Bitter Apple or another spray that will deters unwanted mouthing (nipping) or chewing.
- Socialization– I cannot express enough how socialization will be the most influential process you can partake in with your puppy. Puppies need to be exposed to many types of people, different places, and multiple things. Introducing your puppy to these many aspects will help your puppy learn what is expected of it while also allowing it to become more confident and grow with good manners.
Exposure, consistency and follow through will instill the desired behaviors you wish for your puppy to obtain.
All About Dogs offers many unique training experiences. If nipping is an issue in your home my class recommendations for you would be Puppy Manners and My K-9 Can. Please refer to our website at Group Training Class page for class requirements and schedules.
If you feel your puppy’s nipping is more aggressive in nature than playful please email our trainers at firstname.lastname@example.org. So, we may better assist your concern(s).
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