A puppy nibbling on your fingers may seem cute and harmless, but when he grows up, biting can become a hard habit to break. Join Expert Pet Trainer Kathy Santo as she explains the reasons puppies bite and what you can do to change their behavior.
Hi, I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and today we're going to discuss the dangers of allowing puppy biting, the importance of playing correctly, and how to stop the unwanted biting behavior.
It's normal and even cute when your puppy nibbles and lunges at your hands. Since your puppy has been exposed to only other puppies in the litter, who naturally play with biting and mouthing, it would make perfect sense why he would assume that playing with you wouldn't be different. But as puppies' teeth grow, and their bodies become stronger, what was once cute nibbling eventually turns into uncomfortable, or even dangerous, rough play and bites.
Since biting is an unacceptable type of play, it's important to teach your pup how to enjoy playing games with toys instead of your hand. Playing is a healthy, natural activity that helps build the bond between you and your puppy. This also affects your puppy's train ability-- sitting, waiting, learning tricks, not pulling on the leash, even to stop biting.
Before teaching your puppy not to bite, it's important to train your puppy to decrease bite pressure. Allow your puppy to begin mouthing and nibbling at your hand. When he bites down hard, yell "ouch," so he's startled and stops for a second. Continue allowing him to mouth your hand, making sure to speak up every time he bites too hard, so your puppy can learn your threshold for what is acceptable and what isn't.
Once your puppy understands your feedback about the strength of his bite, you can begin to reduce biting. The best way to teach your puppy not to bite is to redirect him to a toy or a chew bone. Simply give your dog a firm "no," and replace whatever he was biting with something he is allowed to chew.
If your puppy is three to six months old, there is a good chance he may be teething, so he might be trying to reduce discomfort by chewing. Try giving him an ice cube to chew on. It'll numb his gums and help alleviate the pain.
My favorite trick to get puppies to stop biting is to exaggerate, and pretend they've injured me, their friend. By pretending their nip actually hurt you, by pulling your hand away, yelling "ouch," and stop playing, you're replicating what other litter mates would do if another puppy were to cause them pain.
Managing and controlling puppy biting problems can be a major challenge for dog lovers. Puppy biting or nipping starts out as a bit of fun, but needs to be controlled quickly to avoid ongoing problems. Training your dog depends on a good relationship built on love and trust. It takes time to build a working partnership, and the more time and patience you have with your puppy from day one, the more obedient he'll be. Dogs want to please.
I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and I hope you found this as helpful as you welcome your new addition to your family.
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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