Puppy biting is such a problem, isn’t it?
Puppies have VERY sharp teeth – everyone knows that! When they first arrive home at 8 weeks of age, they can be really bitey. Children soon go off their cute, fluffy puppy when it nips their ankles and chews their fingers. How do we deal with the biting?
I see so much about people being exasperated with their puppies biting so much. Now I have a confession to make: I have never been bothered by a biting puppy! I’ve been pondering about why this might be and have come up with a few reasons. Here goes..
- Don’t let your puppy become overtired. My puppies have a pretty calm life. I do play with them and I do make sure I spend some time every day training them. Apart from that, nothing much happens in our house. Even when my sons were small, we were not a household full of shouting and running around. It’s hardly ever hectic. So my puppies don’t get to that ‘overtired’ stage, where they just don’t know what to do with themselves. That’s when they can’t control their biting and it gets much more frequent and harder!
- Tell your puppy that it hurts! When puppies play with each other, or with adult dogs, they do occasionally hurt each other. You always hear a yelp when this happens. They then stop playing and look at each other. Then the play starts up again. So when a puppy accidentally bites me too hard, I yelp. Or at least, I say ‘Ow!’ Well that seems reasonable, doesn’t it?
- Let them know it is not acceptable. If my puppies are behaving in a way that is annoying, I say ‘No!’ and then call them away. I might even give them a tap on their nose if they are really getting carried away. Or just push them off and leave them alone for a minute. Again, this is the same way the adult dogs behave. Puppies are quick to learn.
Of course puppies do need to chew and bite, especially when they start to lose their baby teeth and replace them with adult teeth. Again, I’ve never particularly found this difficult. My top tip: provide plenty of things to chew! Frozen carrot sticks are supposed to be good. Or food put into a frozen ‘Kong‘. Equally good can be alternatives to bones. We don’t give our dogs bones or sticks these days, because there is a risk of choking. (That doesn’t mean they won’t eat sticks from the garden if they can!)
Give it up!
I’ve noticed that Quin is very good at finding things in the garden that he then doesn’t want to give up. He will run away from me if I try to get it off him.
DON’T CHASE HIM! He’ll love that game! I have to call him, standing still, with a treat in my hand. If he thinks what he has is particularly fantastic, I might need an extra tasty treat – a bit of cheese. I offer him the treat and make sure I am being positive and exciting. He drops the bit of mud/hair/stick and comes to see me. I then slide round him to pick up the discarded yuck. Nice!
It’s worth remembering to limit access to the garden at this age. It’s a whole world out there, full of mischief to make! Holes to be dug, plants to be chewed, poo to be eaten. Of course it’s tempting to leave the door open, so that he can go to the toilet when he needs to, but it’s just not worth it.
Toileting – getting there
Trying to cover one topic per week is clearly hopeless – there is so much to deal with! Quin is being really good with his toileting, on the whole. When he wakes up, I take him out and then give him loads of praise for going. I also have to remember to do this after he’s been playing for a while. And after he’s eaten of course. But the good news is that he can hold on for a while. He isn’t going to the toilet indoors most of the time, with just an occasional accident (not usually on my watch :p)
A quick training update – we have been practising our ‘down’ command. Every day, a few times. Then a few more times. I start by bringing him down with my hand, holding a treat. Then I try using the hand action without a treat, then giving the treat once he is down. You need to start without really saying anything, then add the word ‘down’. Say it in the same voice every time, if you can.
The final stage is to give the command and wait. Don’t move! See if he knows what you’re on about. If not, use your hand. Then try again. If he isn’t getting it, move him a bit and try again. The video is not great, but we’re getting there. Clever boy!
Weekly Focus Challenge
When and why is your puppy is biting you or other family members? Monitor times it occurs and think about how you could reduce this. Make a note of when he is sleeping more and make sure he is getting plenty of sleep in a quiet, secure space.
Buy the Workbook
The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.