How to Get My Puppy to Stop Biting

 

Bringing a new puppy home is a joyful, memorable experience. It’s also a lot of work. Puppies are adorable little creatures who might seem determined to act up. They require a lot of attention and patience, much like toddlers. One of the most common puppy misbehaviors is nipping or biting, ranging from annoying to downright painful. While it might seem cute at first, it’s a behavior you’ll need to correct before your puppy grows into a full-sized dog with a dangerous mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. With a little patience and the right techniques, you end this habit for good. Use these tips to stop puppy biting and nipping.

Stop Playing Once the Biting Begins

While playing together, puppies chase, wrestle, pounce and nip each other. When one bites another too hard, the victim will yelp and stop playing for a few seconds. This behavior teaches puppies bite inhibition, knowing if they’re too rough, they’ll lose their playmate. You can offer a puppy the same lesson he’d learn from his littermates.

Once your puppy bites, end playtime right away. You might let out a high-pitched yelp or “Ow!” to show your puppy he’s caused you pain. Instead of jerking your hand or foot away, try to make it go limp, which will be unexciting for your puppy. Jerking motions can activate the puppy’s chase instincts, which may cause more biting. Then, turn around and tuck your hands into your armpits, giving your puppy a playtime time-out. Even a negative reaction is a response — refuse to give your puppy attention after biting. Ignore your puppy for 10 to 20 seconds, then resume playing. Yelp and stop playtime for softer and softer bites until your puppy learns to play gently. If biting continues, take a break from playing.

Even if a bite catches you off-guard and hurts you, always skip negative reinforcement. Never hit, hurt or yell at your dog — physical punishments can make a dog fearful and likelier to be aggressive. Steer clear of any discipline that might make your puppy afraid of you, as this can develop into long-lasting fear aggression. Instead, naughty behavior should receive no attention at all.

Distract Them With Something They Can Chew On

Puppies need to teethe, but not on your fingers or toes. When your puppy starts nipping, offer a toy instead. You’ll teach your puppy toys are OK to bite, but your skin is not. If your puppy continues trying to bite you, turn away and pause playtime. You can incorporate toys into your play — use a toy for tug-of-war with your puppy. Have it nearby during playtime and take it out when your puppy gets nippy. Try to keep tugging from becoming too aggressive.

Having toys on hand creates an ideal opportunity to teach your puppy “let go” or “leave it” commands. When a puppy has a toy in his mouth, hold a treat nearby and say “drop it,” “let go” or “leave it.” Be gentle, but precise with your words. When he drops the toy, offer him the treat along with some praise. Eventually, this will teach your puppy to give you objects without getting defensive.

Allow Your Puppy to Calm Down

Puppies sometimes bite when tired or overwhelmed. When your puppy gets bitey, offer a chance to calm down. Lead them to a crate or quiet space. Stay calm when leading your puppy  — crates should be a safe space, not a source of punishment. After allowing your puppy a few moments to calm down, let it start playing again. A puppy can also be agitated if hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break. Make sure you’ve fulfilled all your puppy’s basic needs.

Plenty of exercise is essential for a growing dog. If you keep your puppy cooped up too much, the biting problem is likely to worsen. Let your puppy burn off excess energy throughout the day. Go for walks, play fetch and take advantage of nearby dog parks. Keep activities mild — you can stunt a puppy’s growth with too much strenuous exercise. Socializing with other dogs is an excellent way for your puppy to learn appropriate behaviors.

Always Reward Good Behaviors Instead

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool and an important element of puppy training. Offer rewards when your puppy:

  • Is calm, quiet and well-behaved.
  • Follows a command.
  • Accepts a toy in place of your hand or ankle. 

The reward can be a simple “good girl” and a pat or a small treat — but be careful not to overfeed your puppy. Use these signals to teach your puppy proper behavior. They’ll soon associate good conduct with desirable results. 

Discover which rewards your puppy seems to like best. It can help to make a list of possible rewards, in order of how happy they make your puppy. Save the best treats for the most challenging tasks. Offer rewards often enough to compete with natural ones in the environment. For instance, when teaching your puppy to heel, give enough positive reinforcement to make walking by your side more appealing than pulling you around, despite all the fun things outside. It’s also essential to deliver treats as soon as possible after observing the desired behavior, so your puppy makes the correlation. Over time, positive reinforcement teaches your puppy that learning is fun and following the rules is worth the effort. It’ll also support a strong bond between you and your puppy.

Enroll Your Puppy in Puppy Training Class

Puppies are lovable and adorable, but not always perfect angels. It takes a lot to raise a happy, healthy puppy. For the first few months with your puppy, it’s crucial to tailor your responses to their behavior. If you’re wondering how to keep a puppy from biting you, try the methods listed above. Use time-outs, distractions and toys to minimize biting. Always reward positive behavior with praise and treats.

Training a puppy can be challenging, as puppies can be unpredictable and hard to read. It’s always smart to enroll a puppy in a professional training class. At Off Leash K-9 Training, we help you resolve puppy behavioral issues while building stronger trust with your puppy. With our private lessons, you and your puppy will get all the individualized attention you need. We’ll help you master the necessary skills and commands while addressing unwanted behaviors like nipping. We offer various packages — you can choose from an all-inclusive puppy camp, several private lessons or a single refresher course. Enroll your puppy in a puppy training class with Off Leash K-9 training today!

Training your new Puppy

So you just brought your new puppy home, now what?

 

You just came home with a fluffy little 8 week old puppy, and besides the basic food, bowls, and toys what else do you need. A TRAINER!!!! Find someone to get you started on basic commands of come, sit, down and to get your new pup off on the right paw. The first week home is very overwhelming and fun, but there is a lot of work that comes with your new pup.

 

Going to the Vet:

Within the first few days home get into a vet; someone who you feel comfortable with and will listen to your questions and decisions. This is very important. If you don’t feel comfortable with your vet’s suggestions be sure to speak up. Your vet will give you suggestions on food, medication, and procedures. It is OK to do your own homework, and do what feels right, not what someone pushes you to do because they “know best”.

 

Dog Food… So Many Choices:

Next up would be food. This is a very hot topic! The breeder or rescue probably sent you home with food that the puppy has been on for the last few weeks. You do not have to stay on this food. Once again, do some research on dog food. You want a food that your dog likes but is also good for them. Just because the breeder has your pup on it doesn’t mean that is the end all be all. Find something you and your pup agree on, and transition them over to the new food over several weeks.

Routine:

Get yourself on a routine. Dogs are creatures of routine. The quicker you get onto a routine the quicker you get onto a feeding schedule and the quicker you will get your new pup housebroken. Who doesn’t want that QUICK! Stay away from pee pads with housebreaking. This only promotes them to take care of business in the house. Some people try the bell, sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I say get into a routine and then start watching your pup for cues (circling, smelling, going to the door or the same spot they like to go).

Kennel/Crate Training:

Crating is equally as important as routine. Crating isn’t a punishment.  It is their space, their room. They need this to understand a lot of things in life. Having a crate with a movable divider will help keep the area small enough so they don’t use it as their bathroom. Feeding in the crate will also help them not want to go where they eat, along with associating a positive experience with the kennel. The crate will also give them a place to go to rest, calm down when they become over stimulated. By teaching them to love their kennel it will be a safe place for your pup when unsupervised and a great way to keep you belongings and furniture safe too!

 

Puppy Training with Off Leash K9 Training, Maryland:

Here at OLK9MD we teach a lot of things during our puppy classes. We offer 2 packages. The puppy consult and the puppy starter package. Not only are we teaching the basic foundation commands, but we are building confidence, teaching manners. During these classes we also answer any questions or concerns you may have. The difference between the two is the number of classes. The consult is an hour long, we say that is more of a refresher class for those been there done that clients who have had puppies before but need the reminder. The starter package consists of 4 classes that are 30 minutes each. We teach the same as the consult just stretch it out over the 4 classes. This is geared more towards the new puppy owners or clients who want to space training out for a couple weeks.

Puppy Play time at Off Leash K9 Training, Maryland

We offer puppy play time at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland two Saturdays a month. This will allow your puppy to socialize with other puppies and people in a safe and controlled environment. Puppies must be between the ages of 3 months to 12 months of age and be up to date on shots. The cost is $10 a session. Please visit our website to sign up .

Watch some of our fun!

Puppy Play Live

 

 

Raising a confident Dog

dog training mdRaising a confident Dog

Socialization and Desensitization

 

We want our dogs to grow up to be the happy and confident and not be “that dog” everyone avoids. You probably hear trainers and vets talking about these buzz words; socializing, desensitizing, etc… well at least I hope you are. These two things are very critical in raising a dog. You have a very short window in their lives to get this right, so get to it and most importantly-HAVE FUN!

 

To have a happy and confident dog you need to expose them to everything possible in the first few weeks of coming home. Like you have nothing else to do but drag this pup around the neighborhood, and experience everything they could possible come into contact with over the next 12-15 years. Yes, you would be surprised on how much you can do on one walk during a busy part of the day.

Meeting 400 people!

I was once told that in the 4 weeks of bringing my pup home I should see about 400 people. Not only that but they should see people of every age, race and size. WHAT! Where am I going to find that many people? Going to the vet is an easy place to get a group of people to dote all over your puppy. You will have about 2 vet visits in this time frame so take advantage of it.  You could possibly hit the jackpot and have a busy waiting room filled with other dogs and kids, but my luck never works like that.

Kid exposure is easy, especially if you have kids living with you.  For those who don’t or need more, go to a park on a sunny weekend.  You will find tons of kids. Bring some treats with you, so you can work on kids giving your pup treats for sitting nicely. Two birds one stone — you work on not jumping on people because you are asking them to sit. If you don’t have a park nearby try to time your walks around the local kid’s bus pick ups and drop offs or walk passed the school at those times.

Find some local stores that allow pets, usually the home improvement stores love having dogs come in to shop. Just make sure you spend ample time outside working on “potty time” before going in, or you may find your self buying a roll of paper towels and cleaner (trust me). Once inside you can find lots of people to come pet your puppy, believe me no one passes up petting a cute puppy. Not only does this give you people exposure but also noise exposure.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.

Don’t forget the dogs!

Don’t forget that socialization also includes other dogs. We shouldn’t expose our pups to lots of dogs or dog places until all those shots are up to date. So what do we do? I like to find small dog stores that don’t have large masses of dogs walking around and of course the vet’s office. Hey you may even run into a dog or two at those local home improvement stores. If not, try to recruit some of your friends that have dogs or neighbors. I only let them meet other dogs that are dog friendly and are up to date on shots and also one on one.

I don’t like to have a pack of dogs meet; I’ve never seen anything good come from that. Letting dogs meet on a walk and sniff each other is good too. Just try to find dogs that you feel comfortable with and won’t cause a bad experience for your pup.

When it is too much…

With all socialization always watch for signs of stress or signs of being overwhelmed. The last thing we want to do is stress them out and have a bad experience. I don’t like huge mobs of kids coming over and having 20 hands grabbing at a pup. One or two at a time is fine and not for hours on end. Never force an interaction.  If your pup would rather sniff try having someone hand them a treat, and if they don’t want it then oh well.  You wouldn’t like it if every person you came across made you stop what you are doing and hug them.

Sometimes it could also go the other way — your dog is the one seeking out everyone you pass.  You have to teach them that not everyone is there to come visit them. Just give a little yank on the leash and keep walking.

Noise and Touch Desensitizing

Let’s move on to noise/life desensitization. You would be shocked to hear some of the items I hear dogs are afraid of. I put life in this category because there are things, for what ever reason, our dogs decide they want to be afraid of it.  Once again we want to be able to expose them to all kinds of sounds: vacuum, blow dryer, blender, garbage disposal, things that make noise in your house and outside your house. I have had dogs afraid of plastic bags, rolling garbage cans and even items that move (bikes, scooters, cars, thunder, etc).

Why are they afraid?  They have never heard the sound or it startles them. Their first reaction is to run for their life or bark at it. If they do either don’t let them. When they run go get them, hook a leash on, and bring them back to it. Get some treats and have them sit and keep repeating until they understand nothing is going to happen to them.  I do the same if they are barking at it. Once they realize there is nothing to it, they become desensitized to it. I like to do training sessions around things that bother them, whether it is the garbage truck picking up on trash day or kids playing on their bike.

Get them to focus on you and the reward rather than things going on around them. After a few minutes they will forget what was bugging them. The last thing you want is for them to get rewarded for being scared. That will just promote the fear.  When you have a fearful/reactive dog you run the risk that one day the dog will react or flee and neither is good.

Touch

We also want to be able to touch our dog anywhere. Sitting on the floor with them right from the start and being able to touch their ears, snout, teeth, paws, nails, body and tails. With new puppies I do this every day several times a day. If you have others in the family have them doing it too. This will help when it is time to groom them or go to the vet not react when touched. If conditioned correctly they will understand that this is what humans do and should not get upset over it. I have seen hundreds of dogs as adults not be able to get their nails trimmed because they want to eat anyone who touches their paws.

 

With all of our training from puppy to adult we stress how important it is to be doing all of these great things. I tell clients it is never to late to work on these things and to be working on them every day.

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