Dealing with Puppy Biting? Here’s Help!

Teaching your puppy to use her mouth gently is an important part of raising your puppy – perhaps one of the top two most vital skills you’ll teach (the other being positively socializing them to our human world).  As a “clicker trainer”, we always focus on creating clear communication with our dogs to communicate what is acceptable/desirable behavior in our world, and what is not.

This technique is really simple, but powerful.  You are going to reward your puppy for choosing not to nip/bite/mouth you!  When the puppy makes the right choice, you mark (click or say “yes”) and reward! Follow these easy steps to play “I’m OK with that”:

  • Make a closed fist and hold it slightly in front of your puppy’s face.  Mark and reward if she doesn’t mouth your hand – even for a second!  If your puppy softly touches her nose to your hand – that’s okay, you can mark and reward that!  We’re rewarding non-biting behavior here!
  • Practice a couple of times.
  • Next, move your closed fist around in front of your puppy’s face (the point is not to scare or overwhelm your puppy, so give her plenty of space).  If your puppy does not try to bite/mouth your hand, mark and reward (“yes!” and give treat).
  • Practice a couple of times.
  • Next, we’ll make it a bit more challenging by changing a few things – 1) the amount your hand is moving, 2) the distance from your puppy’s face – you can move in and out, and 3) using an open hand instead of a closed fist.  Mark and reward OFTEN if your puppy does not move to mouth your hand.
    • If you puppy  does go to bite/mouth your hand just stop, put your hand behind your back (stopping the game) and re-present as a closed fist, moving slower, etc.  You have made the game too difficult, too quickly so need to take a step back.
  • Once your puppy is really getting good at this game, you can do the same exercise with a toy or chew bone (start with a toy your puppy is less interested in  and work up towards more favorite toys).  You can also work up to playing this game with shoes and your clothing!

Playing “I’m OK with that” with your puppy will help turn your little shark into a patient, well-mannered puppy by teaching her not to bite/mouth things that are near her face, by rewarding her for not biting. You should see immediate improvements with this game, but because she is a puppy you’ll need to repeat often (several times a day).  Have fun!

By | 2018-11-10T01:00:45-05:00 May 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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