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Puppy Biting: What Can I Do?

        
          
Photo by: www.dogexpress.in

Photo by: www.dogexpress.in

Puppies bite. In fact, sometimes we may even wonder whether we’ve adopted a baby crocodile instead of a dog. After a week with our new puppy, our hands are marked, our clothes are filled with wholes and our minds are desperate! Does this mean we’ve adopted an aggressive dog? Will he bite people in the future? The truth is, this is a perfectly normal behavior for puppies. Just like human babies, they discover the world with their mouths. Since their mouths are filled with tiny, pointy, sharp teeth, it hurts. If it didn’t hurt, they would miss the opportunity to learn an extremely important life lesson: bite inhibition.

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Imagine the following scenario: two young puppies are happily playing with each other. They nibble, mouth and bite each other. All of the sudden, one of the puppies enthusiastically bites his sister; she yells and moves away from him. The young puppy has just learned a valuable lesson: when he doesn’t control the strength of his bite, the play is over. And this is very boring! After all, he wants to play with his sister! A few minutes later, they begin to play again but, this time, the puppy is a lot more careful. Puppies’ teeth are perfect for this situations. They hurt but they can’t cause considerable damage, which allows the puppy to learn to inhibit his biting. This is one of the reasons why puppies should remain with their mother and siblings until they’re approximately 8 weeks old. If they’re taken away earlier, they miss the chance to play with the other puppies and effectively learn how to control their mouthing behavior.

When we take the puppy into our home, we need to continue this work. Simply put, we need to let the puppy know it’s wrong to use his mouth on our hands. Even if he’s not hurting us, we shouldn’t allow any sort of contact between his teeth and our skin. Basically, here’s what you should do: when you’re playing or petting your puppy, pay attention to his reactions. He may start to get a bit more excited and, the moment he bites your hands, stop the interaction immediately. No more play, no more talking. If the puppy continues to bite your hands and clothes, you can get up and leave him alone for a moment. When you come back, you may ask him to sit and then offer him an appropriate alternative (it can be a chew toy, a rope toy…). Let him play with the toy and repeat the process if his teeth ever touch your skin again. With repetition, he will begin to learn how to be more careful. This will also teach him some self-control skills.

A dog with a good bite inhibition is a safer dog to be around. It doesn’t mean he’ll be less likely to bite, but when he does so, he won’t cause as much damage. On the other hand, if a puppy never gets the chance to learn bite inhibition, his future bites may be a lot more dangerous.

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Marilia Domingos

Marilia Domingos

I have a huge passion for animals and so I chose to work with them. I am a Veterinary Nurse and a Positive Dog Trainer.
Marilia Domingos

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