biting

Search the websites of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers or International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for a trainer or behavior consultant near you, if you need help training these or any other behaviors.
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Help — my puppy is wild!

Silva playing with a carpetDo you have a furry wild child on your hands? Here are a few tips to help calm that puppy!

The witching hour: Generally speaking, puppies get especially wound near dusk, or between 6 and 8 p.m., depending on where you live. When possible, see to it that your puppy is exercised and pottied before this time, so he or she can rest in the crate with a Kong stuffed with dinner (a high-quality canned food or soaked kibble) and frozen.

Jumping up: The general rule of thumb must be, “Jumping makes all attention and fun activity stop.” If you are sitting and your puppy jumps on you, stand up, folding your arms and turning your back. Once your puppy has all four paws on the floor, sit back down, wait a few seconds, then pet her if she is sitting, standing, or laying down nicely. This also applies for when you are on walks. If you are walking your pup and she begins to bite, paw and jump up, stop walking, cross your arms and turn away. As soon as she has stopped, start walking again. Remember to keep those walks short for easily tired puppy legs!

Jumping / Scratching / Biting while playing: Leashes, tethered to a sturdy object, can be a lifesaver, especially for supervised child-puppy play. Playing with your pup when he is tethered has some special rules, however: NEVER tease or frighten a tethered puppy, and never leave your tethered puppy unsupervised.

While playing with your tethered pup, interrupt play before he gets over-stimulated by practicing a sit cue followed by a treat when he sits. Use “Go play!” to resume play. If he starts jumping or biting at you or your child, stop the playtime by stepping out of his reach and waiting silently until he calms down (sits or keeps all four feet on the ground). Once he calms down, ask him for a sit, then say “Go play!” and resume playing.

Relaxing time for your puppy (and You!): If your puppy does settle nicely in her crate, take advantage of this and give her some alone time to relax in her crate during the day. Allow her about 30 minutes once or twice a day to be alone in her crate with a frozen Kong while you are in the house (at least one of these times can be The Witching Hour — see above). This will not only give you a break, but teach your puppy to settle herself for short periods of time. It will also teach her that her crate is a relaxing, safe place she can go when she is overwhelmed, tired, or stressed out, and that you don’t only put her in the crate when she’s about to be left alone.

Practice these tips and you may have your little Tazmanian Devil settled in no time!

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How can I get my puppy to stop biting?

TeethIf you have a new puppy, your hands and arms are likely covered in bite and scratch marks, and at least a few of your favorite sweaters have holes designed by sharp puppy teeth.

What can you do to keep your little shark from mouthing and biting all day long?

Here are a couple of effective strategies to get you started:

Let ’em bite. “What? I thought this article was about getting my puppy to stop biting!” It is, but bear with me: Your 2- to 5-month-old puppy is at an optimum age to learn bite inhibition, an all-important process that starts when a puppy is still with his or her mother and littermates. Those sharp teeth that we find so painful — well, they annoy mom and the pup’s brothers and sisters, too! Close friends of ours are havanese breeders and they explained to us that Mom and littermates teach the puppy not to bite so hard. As the pups grow into adults with teeth that could do real damage, they learn  to use their mouths gently to avoid life-threatening injuries to one another. Humans can use this learning process to our advantage.

To teach bite inhibition, start with a biting puppy on a leash and a soft toy. Allow the puppy to mouth and play with the toy while you pet her. Then, if her teeth scratch your skin or she grabs your clothing, simply stop playing, step on the leash and cross your arms. Say nothing. Wait five seconds before offering to play with your puppy again. If she intentionally bites you, or bites hard, say “Ouch!” in an offended tone and walk away (tethering your pup first if necessary so she doesn’t follow you and bite your pants). Return and attempt to play again in 10 seconds. This teaches your puppy that calm, gentle mouthing does not end play, but hard bites or bites to clothing does. Do not encourage young children to teach puppies bite inhibition; see time-outs, below.

Time out! If you’ve laid a foundation by teaching bite inhibition (see above), time-outs can be an effective tool for teaching the puppy not to put his mouth on people. Around age five months, as the puppy’s adult teeth settle in, we can start to request that our puppies not mouth us during play. Time-outs can also be effective for those wild-child times when your pup is super-stimulated and can’t calm himself down.

The timeout area can be his crate, exercise pen, a small puppy-proofed room with a door, his leash or other tether, or outdoors if you have a fenced yard. Give time-outs when your polite requests to stop biting (by stopping play) aren’t working.

To use time-outs effectively, pick a word or phrase to use every single time you put your puppy in time out. Popular picks include “Uh-oh,” Oh no!” or “Too bad.” Use this word or phrase only when you’re about to give a time out, not at any other time. This prevents the puppy from running away from you any other time you reach for him, and helps him understand why he is being separated from you.

The time-out should last no longer than a minute, unless he is barking to leave the crate (wait for a bit of silence before opening the door), you are finished playing with him or need to leave the house. In the latter cases, he can rest in his crate with a Kong or other toy.