Behavior

and Training Tips For Your Dog

Nipping and Puppy Biting Cures

 BEFORE WE START TALKING ABOUT NIPPING AND BITING….ARE YOUR KIDS AND DOG SAFE? 

It’s hard to believe that 77% of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog. That means that these aren’t crazy, stray, vicious dogs – they are OUR pet dogs! While this is a really sad statistic, it does mean that WE can do something to CHANGE IT.

Contrary to popular belief, bites RARELY happen out of the blue — and your kids’ actions can play a HUGE role in how safe they are around the dogs they love and live with. All too often, miscommunication is at the root of the issue.

We expect dogs to read our likes and dislikes — but often have no idea how to read theirs.

LEAR MORE ABOUT THE FAMILY DOG HERE after you have read everything below. Don’t forget to come back up here!

Okay now to the education on how to curb that normal pup behavior…so read on!

Biting in Puppies is a Normal, Though Undesirable, Behavior.  Puppies often use their mouths for exploration and play, and this behavior can extend to the human family.

Our biggest concerns as professional dog trainers in these situations is that owners may be using or are being told to use physical correction by the internet or friends (alpha rolls, leash corrections, holding the mouth closed, pinching the tongue, hitting or tapping the muzzle) as a treatment strategy.

Using physical correction can cause a fear response and can result in the escalation of your puppy’s aggressive behaviors.

See FEAR period one and two in the front of your blue book  workbook.

A better approach is to both address the biting at the time it occurs, and prevent biting as an option for the pup.

Once you have ruled out any physical abnormalities that could be contributing to the behavior, your approach should include teaching your puppy the simple obedience commands we showed you from our first two sessions, ample playtime’s, frequent short leash walks, and puppy socialization classes once shots have been completed.

NO DOG PARKS please.

It is often a challenge to convince a new enthusiastic puppy not to bite the hand that feeds him, pets him, and plays with him. Nipping and mouthing is a very common and very normal puppy behavior.

When puppies play with each other, they use their mouths, so they tend to do the same thing when they interact with people.

This is rarely an aggressive behavior intended to harm you, but it can be a difficult habit to break without some good, practical tools in your “puppy training tool bag.”

The worst thing you can do is physically punish your pup for this natural behavior, although many people incorrectly do so.

Most normal puppy mouthiness just goes away on its own, regardless of how much or how little puppy parents do to stop it, once puppies acquire their adult teeth Instead of punishment, the use of positive distraction and the encouragement of acceptable behavior are far better approaches, yielding much better results.

This post is intended to help you manage puppy nipping effectively, while at the same time helping you build a good relationship with your puppy, based on trust rather than fear.

How to Tell Normal Play from Problematic Aggression

Most puppy play consists of chasing, pouncing, barking, growling, snapping and biting. So how can you tell the difference between normal play and true aggression?

According to DVM online magazine, in normal play, a puppy will “play bow” (lower his head and raise his hind end), present his front end or side to you, hold the front part of his body up, wag his tail, dart back and forth, emit high-pitched barks and growls, and spontaneously play-attack.

However, behaviors that may indicate early aggression include:

  • Prolonged deep-tone growling
  • A fixed gaze
  • A stiff posture
  • Aggression that is not spontaneous—that is, aggression that is not situational or stimulus-dependent.

These aggressive behaviors may be related to fear, possessiveness, conflict or pain. Of course, even normal puppy play can become too intense, and when this happens, you must intervene appropriately and do call us or text us right away you have our numbers and email!

Distraction Is the Best Prevention

Nipping or biting often occurs in puppies when they are being petted or played with. A quick and easy method for redirecting your puppy’s attention is offering a more acceptable object to gnaw on, such as a chew toy, at the same time as you start to pet him. One hand offers the toy while the other hand reaches out to scratch him behind the ear.

One great toy to use is Kong toy or a treat ball filled with something healthy for a dog not junk. Good ongoing training from us with you, plus good (read your labels for HEALTHY nutrition) and fun—you can’t beat that!

This helps your pup learn that people and petting are wonderful, and also keeps his mouth busy. Try alternating which hand does the petting and which one offers the chew toy.

Remember, the longer he is petted, the more likely he is to get excited and start to nip, so you may need to shorten play sessions, at least initially.

Encouraging Appropriate Play

When your pup does nip you, a good strategy is to imitate what another puppy would do if he were bitten. 

Make a high pitched “yipping” noise like in the video we showed you—or loudly say “OUCH!” Don’t pull your hand away until YOU see the puppy back off first. If you move it or jerk it away they will go after it again.

You have to interrupt the pattern and let the dog move first then immediately walk away. Ignoring your puppy for a few minutes teaches him that biting you makes you go away, which is an immediate negative reinforcement for the behavior. Then you can return a little later and try playing again.

It’s generally not a good idea to sit on the floor with your pup for prolonged periods of time. This tends to over excite puppies and places family members in a vulnerable position, making it more difficult to control the puppy.

Here are a few other tips for encouraging appropriate play:

Provide plenty of exercise. Your new puppy is a bundle of energy, so give him plenty of discharge outlets. Going on walks is a fantastic way to do this, and benefits you with some exercise as well. Short but frequent walks help your pup vent pent up energy and gives him an appropriate outlet for all that motion!

Play, play, play. Playing fetch ( 2 ball like we taught you or will teach you soon or play FIND ME around your house or yard, that lets them burn off some energy, while strengthening your parent-pup bond.

Obedience training. Teach and review basic obedience commands early on.  (Go Back To Your BLUE WORDBOOK) Well-trained dogs are more likely to follow orders when misbehaving.

Time out. If your puppy won’t stop a bad behavior, put him in a room or better yet in his kennel with toys to keep him busy until he calms down. 10 minutes or until calm

You are the leader. You can teach your puppy that you are the one who pays for kibble, water, vets, toys etc… by having him/her respond to a command, such as “sit,” before he/she gets anything they want or need.If he becomes too pushy about getting attention by whining, nudging, etc, pull your hands away and look away. Once he stops soliciting attention for 10 seconds, ask him to sit. Then give him attention and affection.

Do not reward annoying or bad behavior.

You can also teach him not to move without your permission. Any time you begin to move from one area of the home to another, use this as an opportunity to ask you pup to “sit and stay” and later go to your place or go to your bed.(second or third session with us depending on the puppies age and breed)  But a “sit stay” for a second or two, then give the command to follow you will help them focus more on you.

Be consistent. It is very important that all behaviors be managed consistently by all family members. Every one must say the same words the same way or the pup gets mixed messages.

Promote socialization. Exposure to a variety of people and other animals as the puppy grows and develops, especially during the first 4 months, will help prevent asocial behaviors, fears, and biting. 100 friendly people and 20 friendly adult dogs are a MUST for your puppy to meet. Even if it is just for a few minutes each. If they don’t you will have a lifetime of problems as we told you in our initial consultation.

What Not To Do

You should never use physical punishment with a puppy. This includes:

  • Scruff shakes
  • Alpha rollovers
  • Forcing the puppy to the floor, or pinning him down
  • Thumping or swatting his nose, hitting, or kicking
  • Pushing his nose into feces (punishment for inappropriate soiling)
  • Putting your fingers down his throat
  • Forcibly removing an object from his mouth
  • Choke chains, pinch collars, electric collars or throw chains
  • Muzzling

Some pet owners we know and meet are still using remote training collars out of frustration, since they don’t know what else to do. But most people are unaware of how powerful these tools are and how easy it is to misuse them. NO SHOCK collars is our motto.

The average pet owner does not use these remote collar devices with the impeccable timing and consistency required to be effective. And they should never be used as punishment devices.

A study was done in Germany in 2006 in which dogs were given high intensity electrical stimulation, delivered with poor timing (meaning inconsistently with regard to the dog’s behavior). These dogs showed severe and persistent stress symptoms. Therefore, ordinary use of these devices will most likely cause your puppy to grow into a dog that is fearful, aggressive, and asocial. Research has shown that most aggressive dogs are actually fearful, rather than attempting to achieve dominance.

When physical punishment is used, several things may happen, depending on your puppy’s temperament and the severity of the punishment. According to the Humane Society, a puppy who is hit or slapped in the face for biting can react in the following ways:

  • Become “hand-shy” and cringe or cower whenever a hand comes toward his face
  • Become afraid of you, and refuse to approach you at all
  • Respond in a defensive manner, and attempt to bite you to defend himself
  • Interpret a mild slap as an invitation to play, causing him to become more excited and even more likely to nip

Scientific Evidence Outlining the Concerns with the Use of Electric Shock There is no doubt that shock collars cause pain. While proponents might call it a “stim” a “tap,” or a “static charge” we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus (electric shock) must be sufficiently aversive (i.e. painful) in order to cause a change in behavior. Learn more here https://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collars.html 

Tots and Pups

You should carefully monitor all interactions between your children and your dog. It is very difficult for children under the age of eight or nine to practice the kind of behavior modification outlined email message

Your child’s first reaction to being nipped is probably to push the puppy away, and this will most likely be interpreted by the puppy as play, causing him to nip and bite even more. By teaching your puppy good behavior, and teaching your children proper interventions, your pup will grow into a well-behaved and happy part of the family. Most Importantly WATCH THE TWO VIDEOS HERE AS A FAMILY  https://www.thefamilydog.com/stop-the-77/  DOGS DESPERATELY NEED YOU TO LISTEN

Although most dogs are amazing at dealing with all the crazy stuff a family can throw their way, they still may need your help. Kids can sometimes be scary to dogs because… they’re KIDS! By nature, they’re just more unpredictable, more uncoordinated and way more likely to get in a dog’s face than most adults. So, to keep them safe, it’s YOUR job to watch and listen. Dogs use their eyes, ears, mouth, tail and whole bodies to show you how they’re feeling.

Dogs will usually communicate using their polite, subtle signs (’whispering’) but, if those are ignored, they may resort to growling, snarling or snapping (’shouting’). Check out the second video to understand the very FIRST signs dogs show when they are becoming uncomfortable.

PROTECT YOUR DOG — AND YOU’LL BE PROTECTING YOUR KIDS

Now that you know the signs, watch your dog carefully. The goal is to ensure that your dog ALWAYS feels safe around your kids, but at the first sign that they’re not — give your dog a break!

If your child is doing something that is stressing your dog, be sure to move them, far enough away, so that your pup can relax again. After all, if no one is there to protect your dog, they’re left with no choice but to protect themselves — and no one wants that! NOW SHOW YOUR KIDS THE SECOND VIDEO Half way down the page. https://www.thefamilydog.com/stop-the-77/

Help them understand what dogs are saying and teach them a VERY important skill:

WHEN TO STAY AND WHEN TO WALK AWAY. If you keep pointing out your dog’s body language clues, showing when it is best to leave your dog alone, over time it will just become second nature to your kids (even without prompting!). Not only will they understand YOUR dog but being able to read body language will keep them safer around ALL the OTHER dogs they meet too.

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