Is your relationship with your puppy starting to sour because of its’ constant nipping and mouthing of your hands, legs or any other body part it can get to?
Don’t give up hope. Biting and mouthing is a very natural behaviour for a puppy and is how they explore the world. Without hands to feel with, puppies use their mouths, so need to be taught what is and is not acceptable .
The way to teach this is to react to these nips in the way another dog would, thus teaching your puppy bite inhibition. Think canine – when puppy nips you, give a squeal and remove yourself from the situation just like a sibling puppy would, and this means no looking at, talking to or touching the puppy for a few minutes. If the puppy persists, give him 5 or so minutes of time out so he can calm down and think about the consequences of his actions.
Never encourage your puppy to play games which allow him to bite. Although it may seem fun when they’re small, it’s no fun when your puppy grows into a large dog and continues to bite.
As well as biting/nipping people, pups also need to be taught what objects they can chew on. Puppies lose their deciduous teeth and start to gain their permanent set between 4 and 5 months of age. The process is complete by about 7 months of age and puppy will need plenty of chew toys to help him through this time. These can be bought at pet stores or veterinary clinics and/or you can easily make your own – a knotted tea towel that has been dampened and put in the freezer until it’s nice and cold can be very soothing to a teething pup. If you find your puppy chewing on something he shouldn’t (like the coffee table legs or the T.V remote!) use one of his chew toys to distract him by waving it around or throwing it into the air – you need to make it look more exciting than the inappropriate object, then throw the chew toy for the puppy. He will abandon the table leg for the more exciting chew toy, at which point a lot of praise from you will confirm his decision to now chew on the correct toy.
Dogs will sometimes chew on something when they are distressed, because the act of chewing releases natural feel good endorphins, so is calming and soothing for them. Remember too, that canines are experts at picking up on our emotions, so if you are upset or angry, try to avoid contact with your dog until you’re feeling calmer.
“No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich.” – Louis Sabin