Brought to you by Training Your Puppy in 5 Minutes
All puppies bite. If your pup bites, it doesn’t mean that he is aggressive. Puppies use their mouths as we use our hands. They grab, pull, shake and taste. These are all common behaviors of any toddler, human and canine alike. It is through these behaviors that they learn how to interact with their environment. It is through your reactions and direction that they will learn the correct way to do this.
While it might be cute to have a puppy biting your arms and fingers, it is not appropriate behavior. As the pup matures, this type of play turns into dominance and the pups jaws get stronger, which can be painful. A puppys sharp teeth should be indication enough of what can happen later. Puppies have small sharp teeth for a reason. It is their means of ensuring survival until their jaws develop.
There is no such thing as an accidental bite. It was merely allowed in some form or another, whether you realize it or not. You must always be aware of what your pup puts his mouth on. Make sure that there are plenty of toys available and that you always supervise him. This will prevent your pup from ingesting anything dangerous, chewing electrical cords or putting his mouth on people.
When pup tries out the chair leg, you can either growl at him, shake your no-jump box to remove his attention from the wood or coax him into a game with one of his toys. The latter is the most positive means of stopping the behavior, but is also the most temporary. The puppy has to learn that the chair leg is not an acceptable chew toy. To learn this, he must receive a correction. The growling and/or rattle of the box will usually serve as enough of a deterrent. However, there are some stubborn pups that will look at their people as if to say “make me” and return to chewing the chair leg.
While redirection can often serve its purpose in curing mouthing/biting/chewing behaviors, it is not always 100% successful. In this case, you need to use canine communication. How does mother dog correct her pup? She takes the pups muzzle or neck in her mouth, presses against him and growls.
How will we emulate that? Take the scruff of the pups neck into your hands, look him in the face and growl. Then release him, show him one of his toys and invite him into a game with it. This method incorporates both canine communication and the human technique of redirection. This way, the pup isn’t learning through trial and error as he would in a pack situation. You are showing him the road to good behavior, and you can use these behavior-modification techniques for mouthing, chewing and biting.
Reprinted from Training Your Puppy in 5 Minutes © 2004. Permission granted by Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press.