Bringing a new puppy home is such an exciting experience. You've bought all the right toys, the bed, bowls, crate, the perfect food and treats. You name it, you got it!
Your first play is unforgettable. You are both so excited.
But suddenly... ouch. Your puppy starts biting. What's happened? What have I done? Did I adopt a shark?!
Puppy biting and nipping is natural. Puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them. Puppies in a normal setting learn how to play nice with their litter mates and their mother. The litter mates and mother will teach them how to play nice and when a bite is too hard and hurts. With your new pooch away from the litter and mother, it's now down to you to be that guidance that your pup needs. Biting is also common during this time due to teething--after all, they are a baby!
Let's go over 10 tips to help you and your puppy manage that biting behaviour.
1. Keep your energy low and calm
Just like a kid, dogs and puppies feed off of your energy. If you are hyper and excited, they are hyper and excited. If you are calm and cool, they will usually keep calm and cool as well. When working with your bubbly pup, make sure you are calm and relaxed--no matter how crazy they get!
2. Use the ouch and ignore method
As we said before, puppies learn from their parents and litter mates. If you are being calm and your puppy still bites, give a high pitched ''ouch'' and turn away. This lets your puppy know that what he or she has done is not acceptable and that if they bite, the fun and play stops. If you pup follows you, you can leave the room for a minute or 2 to make sure they understand. If they settle down and do not bite, make sure you praise and reward!
3. Divert the attention
Prevention is the best. If you feel your pup is getting ready to nibble your hand, grab their favorite toy and put it near their mouth. Soft toys are great for this as they can really sink in. If they take the toy, offer lots of praise. Make sure you have plenty of teething toys available to save your fingers and toes!
4. Be firm, but fair
Don't let those puppy eyes fool you into allowing bad behaviours. Using a firm tone of voice will let your dog know you are serious, but also do not ignore a dog for too long. For example, if you leave the room due to them biting, do this for only a few minutes. If you stay away too long, the dog soon forgets and the point is lost. Keep training short and always end on a good note.
5. No sudden movements
Remember the tip about keeping calm? This also includes your physical movements. Try your best not to move quickly such as waving arms and hands, or leaving a room in a hurry. Puppies have a strong instinct to chase and any fast movements may be seen as a game.
6. Be consistent
Everyone in your home must follow the same training rules to make sure your pup learns them quickly and does not become confused. If one person plays with the puppy in an excited manner, they will become confused if it suddenly stops and is ignored when doing the same thing with another person. Rules must be clearly communicated with your household. A list on the fridge is also a good way to remind everyone of those rules.
7. Introduce a crate
Firstly, a crate is to never be used as a punishment. A crate is your dog's safe place to rest and reset. This can be used in a positive way to curb biting and nipping in your pooch. If your puppy is feeling a bit bitey, you can reset them by asking them to go into their crate with their favorite toy. Giving them some time alone to reset is a good way to bring down the energy levels and minimize another bite to you or others.
We all know a tired puppy is a happy puppy. And a sleeping puppy cannot bite, right?! Each breed will require different levels of exercise and this needs to be researched and applied appropriately. Booking walks with a dog walker (such as us!) can greatly reduce unwanted behaviours such as biting and chewing. A puppy alone while you are away at work for 8 hours can be a recipe for disaster. You will have full peace of mind knowing your house will still be in tact when you hire a dog walker or sitter to pop in and check on your pooch during the day.
Just like quick movements, loose clothing can also be seen as a new and exciting game to a biting puppy. Flowing and loose clothing can be interpreted as a new style of tug-0-war and can leave your baggy trousers or new shirt in shreds. When training, be sure to wear items that are close and not able to be grabbed on to so easily. Jeans and a T-shirt are completely fine!
10. Use the correct training methods
Punishments for bad behaviour should never involve shouting or hitting your dog. The only punishment you should offer is ignoring the behaviour and offering your pup a chance to learn and try again. Harsh methods only make your puppy fear you and training will never be fun. Positive reinforcement methods are proven to work in a positive way for both owner and pet. Only use methods that you are comfortable with. If you are unsure of a training method or how to correct a behaviour always seek out the advice of your vet or a behaviourist.
We hope you can use these top tips to help your little land shark overcome their bites and nips. Remember, you will need to be kind and patient. Training does not happen overnight so be sure to keep trying and before you know it, they will become a very good boy!
Did these tips help you? Let us know!
Follow Bluebell Pet Care on Facebook and Instagram for more information on all of our amazing services and pet care tips.