(Please note that this information is suitable for puppies up to 18 weeks old and who still have their deciduous teeth. If your dog is still mouthing or biting after this age please contact us for advice)
So, there are a few rules:
- No rough games with your new puppy. Do not play rough and tumble games with your puppy or any game where your puppy grabs your hair or skin. Dad's listen!! This is giving your puppy permission to bite people and will set back your efforts
- No teasing or encouragement to bite- EVER
- Prevent your puppy from biting - just don't allow it. There is a responsibility that we as owners have to be aware of our own behaviour and movements around our puppies. Fast, jerky or excitable movements excite our puppy even more and often end in the puppy trying to grab our hands or other limbs. Consider using a toy as a distraction if he is thinking about using his teeth in play. I have advised young children to wear wellingtons for a few days to stop hands and feet teasing! Works a treat! Also teaching your children to become 'statues' with their hands 'stuck' to their sides when puppies gets over excited often helps too.
- Always ask yourself is someone reinforcing this behaviour ? This could be getting cross with the puppy, playing rough games or just squealing and running away from puppy when your puppy starts biting. This is often the case where a household has very young children
There are certain times of the day when a puppy seems to use his teeth more. These may be different for in your home but take a note if it is worse at tea time or when kids come home from school. Your puppy may be over tired, over excited or just over stimulated. You MUST be ultra- calm and next time be prepared with a filled Kong or chew or some interactive feeding toy they can occupy their busy minds with instead. Stair-gates are very helpful so you can leave your puppy and take all the fun out of the behaviour. Offering an alternative play item instead of you, is a good strategy and don't forget to praise your puppy for interacting with that instead.
Help is at Hand
Occasionally , puppies that have been allowed to practice biting and mouthing need to understand that there is consequences to their behaviour. If you are going to use this technique make sure you have tried and implemented all the suggestions above and no-one is inadvertently reinforcing the puppy for biting .through play or teasing with hands or feet.
- As soon as your puppy puts his mouth on you, even in play say quite firmly 'wrong' in a normal voice. Immediately leave the room or put him behind a stair gate . Sometimes it is necessary to keep a soft lead on your puppy whilst in the house, so when you have to move them you don't grab their collar. I find children can do this technique very easily.
- They should only be isolated form you only for a few moments and if you find they instantly fall asleep when left this tells you that perhaps they were over-tired and needed to sleep. Remember the time of day for next time!
- Be consistent- It will take many repetitions before your puppy understands that biting results in loss of fun - YOU
Take Note : If your puppy is becoming more excited and bitey over time rather than less you may need extra help for us. Also, check your puppy's diet as this often can have a dramatic effect on his behaviour - ask your Vet for help or visit The Pet Corner in St Johns, but remember every puppy is an individual and what works for one may not be the solution for another pup.