Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Puppy Biting and Mouthing

One of the worst stages a new owner will encounter is puppy biting and mouthing. This generally begins at about 4 months of age and subsides at about 7 months of age.
This stage goes hand in hand with the period of time in which puppies mouths are changing rapidly. Baby teeth will begin to fall out being replaced by the adult teeth (you may even find the odd tooth on the floor, but often puppies will swallow them -its nothing to worry about).
Puppies have no idea how to communicate with you, therefore the niping begins and can be triggered by any number of things.
For instance, young puppies need a lot of sleep and if over-tired, they may begin to act out of character by nipping excessively and playing roughly. The pup is simply trying to tell you he's tired. This would be a good time to make use of the crate to provide the pup with a little peace and quiet.
If the puppy is lonely, (having slept all day or maybe you just arrived home from work) he or she may be jumping all over you and nipping roughly - indicating the need/desire to play with you. Take the pup for a walk and burn off some of that energy.
If the pup is not wound up, but constantly nipping, my best guess would be that the pup is teething. Offer a toy that the puppy can chew.
Rough play may also encourage nipping, paricularly if too rough for the pup. He or she will simply try to rise to the occasion in the only way he/she knows how - by nipping. A good sharp nip to an overly rough littermate generally gets the point across and play will often cease.
If you examine the circumstances, we can quite often figure out the reason for the nipping and remedy the situation.
Yelling at the pup will do nothing more than elevate emotions and make the behavior worse.
If the above examples and solutions do not work, you will need to correct the behavior so that it does not continue or become worse, try offering the chew toy to the pup and get up, walk away and ignore the pup until he/she settles down. When the pup is quiet again, speak calmly to avoid overly exciting the pup and always praise gently and calmly for good behavior.
It is also important to remember that your behavior will rub off on your puppy. A noisy, boisterous household will create a noisy, boisterous dog and vice versa, a calm, quiet household will create a calm, quiet dog.
Do you have questions, would you like to submit a question? Click on comments below and we will address your question or comment.