05. Biting

Post date: Oct 19, 2011 5:02:29 PM

You'll notice that this section on biting is listed under "puppy training." If you're having problems with an adult dog who bites, you need to consult a professional, not a website.

All puppies chew and bite. That said, you need to teach your puppy as quickly as possible to not put her mouth on people. This training needs to start from day one and you must be 100% consistent. Chewing on your finger can't be funny when you first bring your puppy home but bad behavior when she's an adolescent with strong teeth and jaws.

A puppy who has been properly raised with her mother and littermates has alredy learned bite inhibition - the art of play biting without hurting. If you watch puppies or dogs play, there are two basic ways they learn not to hurt each other: (1) Ouch! and (2) Cut that out NOW! Your goal is to turn these natural behaviors to your advantage.

1. Ouch! The first way puppies tell another puppy they've bitten down too hard is to show pain. You can do the same thing. Anytime your puppy touches you with her teeth, even if the teeth barely brushed your hand, make a loud, high-pitched yelp and yank your hand away as if you just touched a hot stove. Cross your arms and turn your head away from the puppy while you sulk over your "injury" for 10 seconds. Act like your feelings were hurt and be slow to forgive the puppy for hurting you. She'll quickly learn that you are very thin skinned and have no pain tolerance. She'll also learn that biting you ends play time with her buddy.

2. STOP IT! Puppies will sometimes let their behavior get completely out of control and will start really nipping at you. When this happens, stop playing with the puppy. Stand up, fold your arms and ignore her for at least 15 seconds. She will almost certainly lose interest in you. If she continues to bite you, it's time to remind her who is in charge. Start by baring your teeth, staring your puppy in the eyes, and giving a low, menacing growl. It doesn't have to be loud but it needs to be deep and menacing. Give your puppy several seconds to recognize what you're communicating. If she's still out of control, quickly discipline the puppy by saying "no" while you grab the scruff of her neck and roll her onto her back. It's okay for this to startle the pup but it shouldn't hurt her. When she's on her back, hold her muzzle. Look down on her. When she stops struggling and relaxes, she is submitting to you. Let her up slowly. Ignore her completely for a few minutes and act aloof for several minutes after that. It's important that you remain calm and in control throughout this process. Your puppy should never think that you've striking out from anger, rather that you're firmly showing her that there are boudaries to her behavior. Once things have settled down, practice some very basic obedience with positive reinforcement.