Does your puppy bite you?

If you watch a litter of puppies playing, you will see that they spend
much of their time biting and grabbing each other with their mouths. When you take a
puppy from the litter and into your home, the puppy will play bite and mouth
you. This is normal behavior but it needs to be modified. The puppy may
even be regarding your hands as a mouth.

The first thing is to teach your new puppy that human flesh is much more sensitive than other puppies and that it hurts us when they bite. A puppy has very sharp teeth and a weak jaw. So the puppy cannot cause severe damage. An adult dog has duller teeth and a powerful jaw. So an adult dog can cause significant damage if it bites.

Any dog will bite given the right or wrong circumstances. If a small child falls on an adult dog or sticks a finger in the dog’s eye,it is not surprising if the dog bites. It is simple to teach a puppy bite inhibition. Every time the puppy touches you with its teeth, say “OUCH” in a harsh tone of voice. This will probably not stop the puppy from mouthing, but over time should result in softer and gentler
puppy biting.

The commands to teach a puppy not to mouth, are easy and fun. Hold a small handful of the puppy’s dry food,say “take it” in a soft tone of voice and give the puppy one piece of food. Then close the rest of the food in your hand
and say “off” in the same soft tone of voice. When the puppy has not touched your hand for three to five seconds, say “take it” and give the puppy a bit.
Now the puppy has been taught that “off” means not to touch. Do this before every meal for at least five minutes. After a couple of weeks of training, this is how to react:

a) Unexpected mouthing (you don’t know the puppy is going to mouth until you feel the puppy’s teeth): “OUCH”
b) Expected mouthing (you see the puppy getting ready to mouth you): “OFF” before the puppy can mouth you.
c) The puppy is mouthing you because it wants to play.

If you have time to oblige make it go into the Sit or Down positions with a reward. If you do not have the time then you need to do a time out (crate, or otherwise confine the
puppy, so the puppy can’t continue to mouth you). That is much easier and more humane than yelling at the puppy �go away.

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