Consistent training, especially when it comes to biting and nipping, is critical for the safety and health of everyone in your family
By Guest Blogger, Dr. Lauren Demos
Bringing a new puppy or adult dog into your home is an exciting time for everyone involved – including your new pet! As your pup gets used to their new environment, it’s up to you to welcome them into a home filled with loving care and safe-for-all boundaries. Consistent training, especially when it comes to biting and nipping, is critical for the safety and health of everyone in your family – including your dog.
Fun fact: Puppies lose baby teeth just like humans. But (somewhat), unlike infants, puppies explore, play, and learn primarily with their mouths. That means plenty of biting and nipping. But when baby teeth turn into full-grown canine chompers, biting and nipping can take a nasty turn. Here are six proven tips to keep your dog from biting.
Hands aren’t playthings…
Play with a puppy, and chances are they’ll want to check out what your hands taste like. This play seems harmless but can result in long-lasting – and unfortunate – consequences. When you and your dog treat your hands like puppy chew toys, then your dog will assume it’s okay to play with them. It isn’t.
When your pup or full-grown dog tries to mouth your hands, break out a chew toy instead. Chewing is normal dog behavior, and having a variety of toys available can help prevent biting later – and possibly even save your couch, coffee table, socks, or shoes. Ask a veterinary expert (like Pettable) what the best type of chew toy is for your dog. Some are edible, and some are not – and some may not be safe.
Don’t encourage chasing
Your hands may not be the only target of your dog’s curious mouth. If your pup lunges at your feet or ankles while you’re walking, you’ll need to retrain your dog to avoid that behavior. Whatever you do, don’t run away or keep walking – that encourages unwanted behavior because your dog will think you’re engaging in a game of chase. Instead, stop moving immediately, and correct your dog with a firm verbal “No!”
Dogs of all ages need plenty of time to learn desired behaviors. You can cut down on training time by communicating like a dog. When it comes to biting, that means yelping. Yelp like a puppy when your dog nips or bites and your dog should pause the behavior – avoid yanking your hand away to prevent injury. If your dog continues anyway, it’s time to speak to your vet about more in-depth strategies to prevent biting.
Consistency is key
Dogs learn fastest when their human friends demonstrate consistent behavior expectations. From a training perspective, everyone in your household should commit to following these rules without exception. Is it hard to keep everyone, especially young children, on track? Of course. But the faster everyone is on board with the training approach, the less time you’ll have to spend training because your dog will learn faster.
In many ways, puppies and adult dogs are just like kids. Patience is required to get the best result. Adult dogs, in particular, may need more time to learn new behavior expectations. But with a loving hand, firm guidance, and plenty of treats, your dog will reward you with a lifetime of loyalty and adoration – and no nasty bites.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Demos is Pettable’s, Chief Veterinary Officer. As a veterinarian and a board-certified feline specialist, she has spent years in clinical practice and understands the joys and the challenges of being a pet owner. She enjoys educating pet owners about canine and feline medicine, to achieve healthy, happy pets.
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