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Does your puppy or dog bite? Read this…

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Does your dog have a habit of “talking back” when given commands she doesn’t like? Does she also try to bite? It’s cute as a puppy but can hurt! This is obviously something that she needs to be trained to stop doing before she grows into an adult dog, especially if she is a larger breed. The ideal goal is to start bite inhibition training the moment your new puppy arrives at her new home and to strive for her to be 90% trained at 3 and a half months old – she shouldn’t be biting anymore but will probably still talk back!

So how do you train bite inhibition in your dog?

You could probably get a dog trainer to come and help you. An experienced and professional canine trainer can be beneficial even if they’re helping just one time with leash training for (for just two hours) and they can be miracle workers for inexperienced dog owners! It can be a little pricey but if the trainer is good, it is really worth it. The stress relief alone from knowing you can control or modify your dog’s negative behavior is worth your dog’s weight in gold. Leash training is your first step to gaining control over your unruly dog, especially one that tends to try and bite humans and other dogs.

You also need to set firm boundaries with your puppy or dog. Every time she bites you, always firmly say “No bite” and then give her a chewy toy instead (re-direction). Make sure you have lots of different chewy toys and giant beef bones to redirect with.

If your dog is more of a dominant alpha personality, most times she won’t listen and will still keep biting (really hard! Especially when you assert “NO bite!!!”) so the next time you may have to give her a light tap on the top of her nose with your finger saying “No bite”. You have to be gentle with the tap because dogs are not supposed to experience anything harsh or negative between 3-4 months of age.  It imprints them with fear which can turn into adult aggression. This tap usually works with most dogs with just three or four times repetition. The more stubborn and dominant your dog is, the more likely they are to try biting even more, also perhaps lunging at you and barking or nipping at your heels and ankles. Sometimes they may hold on to your clothes and tug it.

The best way to combat this continued aggressive behavior is to then teach her the all important “Release” command. This can be achieved by playing tug of war with her favourite tug-toy. It is best to teach this when they are puppies that cannot win in a tug-of-war. Never let them win, or it will only heighten the thought in their minds that they are the dominant one in your doggy-owner relationship. Once she learns “release” it is just patience and repetition and consistency. The more dominant your puppy is, the more time it will take for them to stop play biting or challenging you. But it’s worth the effort. They won’t be so cute when they are full grown and still trying to dominate you!

Make sure she had lots of play dates with your friends’ dogs – the older dogs will teach her to be more gentle and will growl at her if she bites too hard.

Another word to teach your dog is the word “gentle” – teach your pup to take food gently from human hands without biting your hands off in excitement or dominance. Hold a treat in your hand and then pull it away saying “gentle” when she tried to grab it with force. She soon will learn that she will only get it if she takes it gently in her mouth on one end and only then would you release it on the other end (a great way to teach this word to her is using ice cubes, which dogs love to eat!). From there on, you dog will automatically understand it for every situation – whether it is taking food or taking toys from your hands and playing with other smaller breed dogs and pets. This is especially useful if you have little kids around, and you can always remind your dog to “Be Gentle” when they’re around your little ones.

Be patient and consistent and they will eventually outgrow the nipping behavior and learn to behave. They’re also at the teething stage around 14 – 30 weeks, so you have to be mindful of them during that stage as well – lots of toys and chewy snacks.

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