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Puppy mouthing biting and nipping

puppy chewing and mouthingMouthing and chewing is a natural stage that all puppies go through. The key to success is directing your puppy to chew appropriate objects and not your hands, shoes, furniture and clothes! Different methods work for different puppies - below are some different techniques you can use to re-direct your puppy's chewing.

 

Don't make biting a game

However cute don't let your puppy nibble on your hands or clothes. Avoid 'playing rough' or playing games with quick and sudden hand movements around the face - these all encourage biting and snapping at your hands and will make mouthing fun and acceptable to your pup. The whole family has to be in on this one - your puppy is too young to realise he can play rough with uncle Bob but not bite Grandma or little Emma. 

 

Provide acceptable chews

Make sure your puppy has access to a variety of items that she can chew.  You do not want to stop your puppy from chewing totally - it is a natural part of puppyhood and usually worst between four and six months of age when your puppy is teething. What you want is for your puppy to chew her pressed bones, toys and chews - not your hands or household objects, so make sure she always has access to these items. If you catch her chewing on the table leg or your hands try say 'no' firmly and replace it with one of her chews and praise her as soon as she starts to chew on it. Try using bitter apple or 'no bite' spray on favorite chew areas to discourage the practice.

 

Biting ends play

If your puppy starts to bite or mouth you during play or when you are petting him then immediately end the game or fuss and ignore him for a moment or two.  You might need to be quite dramatic so that your puppy gets the idea he is being ignored - fold your arms, turn your back or look away. If you are kneeling down - stand up with your arms crossed. When he has calmed down or is interested in something else, begin the petting or game again. If your puppy is very worked up you may need to give him a bit more time to calm down - sit down and read the paper for 20 minutes totally ignoring him, and then try again. Some puppies get the 'crazies' several times a day - often after eating. Puppies need a lot of calories for all the growing they do - all that energy can boil over into exuberant play and biting. If your puppy is having an attack of the crazies then it is best to get the daily paper out again and quietly ignore him until he has calmed down. This is not a punishment, but some time out for both of you. 

 

Ouch! That hurts!

If you watch puppies and younger dogs playing with each other you can easily tell when one pup has gone too far in play - the victim will emit a loud yelp, leap back, and then walk away. This usually ends the game, whatever it was, or at least calms it down a bit. This is the way dogs communicate to each other 'hey that hurt!' and some dogs will respond well if you try it too. When your puppy mouths you jump as if you have been pricked with a pin and say 'ouch'. Try to look hurt - imagine you are going for an Oscar! Some dogs respond really well to this - after all they do not really want to hurt you. Other dogs do not respond at all, and it can make some breeds worse through exciting their prey drive.Try it with your puppy and gauge their reaction - if it seems to be encouraging him to bite more then this is not the technique for your dog.

 

After all that you may find that your puppy is still mouthing and chewing. Unfortunately it is a stage that all pups go through and although it seems to go on forever, they do grow out of it. You will pretty quickly find yourself 'puppy proofing' rooms of the house - moving prized possessions out of reach and putting your shoes away tidily so that they don't get shredded. Please always ensure your puppy can not access electrical leads or other hazards during this chewing phase, and have patience - it will end!

 
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