|Posted on September 2, 2012 at 6:00 PM|
Wow! I had forgotten just how sharp puppy teeth can be. My sweet Little Miss Sunshine can go from hugs and snuggles to teeth and blood in the blink of an eye. As I watch people interact with puppies, I hear them saying,"No!" but what I see them saying is, "Bite me!". They use their hands to push their puppies away or move their hands quickly around the puppy's face. It's just too inticing for a puppy who wants nothing more than to play by biting at moving objects.
Puppy play-fighting and play-biting are essential for puppies to develop a soft mouth as an adult. Puppies get mouthy during play and when teething. When Halle was with her nine brothers and sisters they would teach her when she had crossed the line. They would yelp and stop playing with her. What could be worse than being ostracized by a litter of golden retriever puppies? (I personally cannot think of anything worse.)
But, Halle is no longer with her siblings. She’s living with humans now. One of the main reasons I enrolled Halle in puppy class right away was to allow her to play and socialize with other puppies so that she could continue to get feedback from her new canine friends on just how hard she can bite.
Halle’s training doesn’t stop there though. Humans don’t have fur to protect their soft skin from shark-like puppy teeth. I have to teach her that humans aren’t as tolerant about biting as her puppy friends. I found a great article by Dr. Ian Dunbar on puppy biting. By teaching her what’s tolerable and acceptable to a human will help her to develop bite inhibition (a dog 's ability to control the pressure of his mouth when biting). My family and I have been following Dr. Dunbar’s advice and added a few rules of our own.
Appropriate Interactions: We don’t allow anyone to get our puppy riled up and play biting. If a person can’t interact with our puppy using our rules, we take the puppy away. (Remember how puppies remove themselves when another puppy bites too hard. Well, we remove the puppy when the human plays to rough.)
Chew Toys: We also provide her with lots, lots, and lots of chew toys. We have toys all over our house (every single room). Whenever we are interacting with Halle using our hands, we have a toy nearby to redirect her attention to an appropriate chew item when she gets too rough. Providing her with chew toys that she enjoys also helps her to exercise her jaws and sooth her mouth when she’s teething.
Meaty Bones: Our backyard looks like a grave yard. We give her lots of tasty, meaty bones to keep her occupied when she’s outside. She enjoys lying in the sun and chewing on her bone. This not only provides her with exercise and mental stimulation, it also keeps her from searching out other inappropriate things to dig or chew in our garden. It also gives us a little "puppy break" while we're outside eating dinner or gardening.
I am finding that there is one constant theme when puppy training and that’s“consistency”. By providing my puppy with consistent feedback on what’s appropriate and what’s not and consistently teaching my puppy what “to do” instead of what “not to do”, we are seeing definite changes in her behavior. She’s really starting to learn the rules of living in our home and she seems very happy.
Train on! Sniff on!
Susie & Halle
Certified Professional Dog Trainer-KA #2102473
National Association of Canine Scent Work Associate Nose Work Instructor
Canine Life and Social Skills Instructor #650449
Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator #E750153
AKC Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator #51179
TAGteach Primary Certification
Licensed "Be a Tree" Presenter
Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers #76263
Member of the Pet Professional Guild
Tamra-Sunshine's Grateful Red 1996-2011 CGC, CD, CDX, UCD, UCDX, Delta Society Pet Partner
Tucker-Sunshine's Mr. Tambourine Man, CGC, NW1