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Is your puppy biting your hands, your legs, your clothes and your shoes? Does your dog start mouthing and biting during play? Learn how to stop nipping in puppies.
Dogs explore the world with their mouth, particularly during puppyhood. Much like a two-year- old human child explores the world with his hands, a puppy explores the world with his mouth.
But what happens when a puppy starts biting and nipping a bit too much? Some teething behaviors are normal, but what happens when a dog starts biting people during play or as an attention-getting behavior? Fortunately, there are certain training techniques that dog owners can use to help a puppy stop biting, nipping, gnawing and chewing on people, leashes, clothing, and shoes.
Puppies are mouthy and nippy by nature. As young puppies, dogs learn bite control from their littermates and other pack members. When a puppy bites another puppy too hard during play, the other puppy yowls and screams in reaction, which teaches the puppy that bites that are too hard do not get a good reaction. When a young puppy plays inappropriately with an adult dog, the adult dog will yowl and/or nip back, again teaching the young dog about what type of mouthing is appropriate.
Some dogs do not learn proper bite control from their littermates or adult dogs before the age of eight weeks, which is when most puppies are adopted into their new home.
This lack of puppy socialization and poor puppy bite control is one of the major risks of adopting a puppy before the age of eight weeks, as the dog misses out on those important bite control lessons from his mother and littermates.
Many puppies that are purchased from a pet store or backyard breeder also experience problems with biting and nipping, since they don't have the benefit of working with an experienced breeder who works to properly socialize the pups.
That said, virtually all puppies may bite humans during play or as an attention-getting behavior.
A puppy bites frequently as he's teething and if the dog is allowed to teeth in an inappropriate manner (i.e. on a person's hand), then he may incorrectly believe that it's okay to mouth a human's hands even when the puppy teething phase is done.
The following strategy is one that many trainers recommend for puppy owners who are looking for ways stop mouthing, biting and nipping in dogs and adolescent puppies.
React like an injured puppy when the puppy mouths and nips. Speak to your dog in his own language with a sharp, high-pitched yowl as he's biting or nipping your hand, leg or other body parts. This mimics the reaction the puppy would have received from littermates if the puppy bit his brothers and sisters too hard. The effect should be startling for the puppy, as it would be if his littermates cried out in pain due to the puppy biting too hard during play.
Give the puppy with a stern correction. Immediately after the bite takes place, administer a stern correction, with eye contact and a stern voice.
Ignore in the moments following a puppy's nipping or biting. The key is to then ignore the puppy for several minutes after biting or nipping occurs. This teaches the puppy or young dog that inappropriate biting and nipping during play signals the end of play time and fun, as it would with his puppy siblings or canine parents. This will also discourage the dog from using nipping and biting as an attention-getting behavior.
Provide an acceptable item for chewing. After a couple minutes of ignoring the puppy, provide an acceptable item for chewing.
For teething puppies who are mouthy and nippy, a knotted washcloth, soaked with water and frozen works wonders. Giving the frozen washcloth toy to the teething dog will help soothe the gums with the cold, while allowing for appropriate chewing. It's important to supervise the puppy with this toy, as the puppy could shred and eat the washcloth if left unattended.
Teething puppies and adolescent dogs will also enjoy hard rubber chew toys. Kong toys are known as being among the safest and most durable dog toys on the market. Some Kong toys have the added advantage of having a hollow middle that can be filled with peanut butter or cream
cheese for added interest and a treat.