Oh, the horror! Nipping puppies and what to do!

Puppy biting and nipping
Puppy biting can become a real bummer!

The most common question or concern I get around puppies is about biting and nipping. Welcome to puppy life. Puppy biting is part of having a puppy. Quite frankly, they will probably bite until they’re done teething at about 5 months of age.

I thought I'd use this post to give you some strategies on how to deal with the nipping/biting of puppies with their little needle teeth. And remember: It WILL become less but your dog needs clear language and structure.

• Tell them a gentle no and walk away

• Redirect on a toy (so always carry a toy with you)

• Make a loud sound and when they let go and leave you alone for a few seconds go and reinitiate play with a toy he is allowed to bite.

• Put your pup in a short time out.

• Teach your pup calm time in a crate

• Teach your pup the place command so you can send him to his bed when he gets over-excited.

• Make sure your kids aren’t running away from the dog —> That’s PLAY behaviour... it’s what they love most... chasing.

• Crate train and if you’re opposed to crate training, get a puppy pen or put your dog in the laundry for a time out if they go too crazy.

• Start with gentle obedience training. Teach them to sit, drop, shake paws. Mental stimulation is key.

• Go outside with your pup and socialize them with the ENVIRONMENT. Even if they haven’t had all vaccinations yet. Between 8 and 16 weeks is the MOST important time in their life. They need to see different people (white, brown, bearded men, people in wheelchairs, with hats on) they need to see bicycles, cars, trucks, trains, kids on scooters or skateboards, they need to walk on sand, pavement, grass, slippery surfaces. They need to go into stores (Bunnings, pet shops). If they're still tiny you could carry them around if you're worried about not being fully vaccinated. Try and stay away from grassy areas that lots of dogs frequent.

• Whilst you are training your dog put on sounds of dogs barking, of vacuums, thunderstorms, fireworks whatever you can find and play this so your dog learns to ignore these things.

• PLAY with your puppy. Initiate tugging games and playing with balls. Teach them obedience where the reward is the toy instead of a treat so you have a toy AND food motivated dog.

• Enrich their lives by using puzzles, snufflemats, kongs, kong wobblers, Kmart puzzles (or whatever you can find on amazon worldwide). Sprinkle their food in the grass, lay a Parmesan cheese trail for them to sniff out.This is how you can diminish biting and build a solid confident dog.

Try not to listen to friends who ''have had dogs their whole life'' and are suggesting some old school backwards methods. They may say I've ‘’done it will all my dogs’’ or ‘’it worked for me’’. That doesn’t mean it’s a good method. And it doesn’t mean it’s fair to your dog.

A few of those methods I came across/have heard are these:

• Grab your dog by the scruff and push him down and shout no at him until he yelps. (This apparently is also a fan favourite when a pup isn’t house trained yet).

• Bite his ear?

• Find his pain threshold and go a bit further (wtf??)

• BE the ALPHA, he needs to know YOU are DOMINANT. Guys, that's never what you do with a pup!

Remember, you took in a baby. Out of a new environment, away from his litter mates. It's confusing and they need to learn. You can't punish a toddler either for wetting the bed when you're training them to go without nappies.. and just like babies like to put everything in their mouth for some reason.. so do dogs. They explore their environment with their mouth. Don't forget, puppies are basically blind and deaf for the first 3 weeks of their life. They don't know any better than use their mouths to explore.

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