Yesterday, March 23rd was International Puppy Day! Which I am happy to report is not about the promotion of purchasing a puppy, but the promotion of adoption. Additionally, the holiday serves to educate people about puppy mills and their horrific damage.
According to the founder, Colleen Paige, National Puppy Day was established to “…celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives…”. To learn more about International Puppy Day, please visit their website here.
As much magic and unconditional love our puppies give us, they give us equal havoc in the early years of puppyhood. So today, I would like to introduce to you all Suzanne Dean a/k/a TheK9Lady.
I wanted to bring her on as a guest blogger to talk about Puppy Biting, Chewing and Mouthing.
“Hi. I am Suzanne Dean a/k/a TheK9Lady. I own the website www.thedogtraininglady.com.
I live in Southwest Florida, with my wonderful husband, 3 beautiful dogs, and 4 awesome (but very different) cats. Life without animals, is not real life for me.
I graduated Animal Behavior College as an honor student 10/02/2012.
I have always trained dogs, and at my age, the way I was brought up to train dogs, is that you always trained the family dog yourself, or your friends helped you train your dogs. So I guess I have always had the dog training spirit.
I did not even realize such places like the Animal Behavior College existed. The minute I found out I jumped at the chance. I gained a wealth of knowledge with their classes.
Currently, I teach private classes, which you can find at the Animal Behavior College Website. I have also had the opportunity to work at a national pet store chain, in which I taught group puppy classes. I also had the opportunity to work at a local animal shelter and work with the dogs to help them become more likely to be adopted.
I started blogging about dog training just recently. The reason I started the blog, is I began to notice that some people could not even afford group classes. Training classes are the last and sometimes a forgotten expense when figuring out if your can afford a puppy.
I thought by giving new pet parents a website that would help them to train their puppies; using positive training methods, it would help families and their pets.
The pet and animal community is one of the best, and friendliest, communities I know of on the Internet. I look forward to contributing my part.
Helping our pets and helping each other is what is most important.”
Puppy Biting, Chewing, and Mouthing; How Not To Be Your Puppy’s Personal Chew Toy!
Puppy biting is as natural part of puppyhood, just as teething is a part of childhood.
This is not to say that biting is an appropriate behavior that we want from our pet.
All 28 of a puppy’s teeth come in at six to eight weeks and depending on the breed of dog it could be up 7 to 8 months of age before they have their full set of adult teeth. The average is usually around 4 months of age for the adult teeth to be present.
What do we do about the chewing and biting? How do we stop this in a positive way?
One reminder when dealing with the biting is this is the young age of the puppy’s fear imprint stage, which occurs between 8 and 11 weeks. There should be no shouting, yelling or making loud noises. This can create a negative effect that could potentially turn into a behavior problem later.
First let me say that we are really training the puppy and the trainer, probably more the latter. If you have a dog as a member of your family “you are a dog trainer”.
What Equipment do you need to have?
To correct the biting, mouthing, and chewing you need to have several, durable chew toys on hand. When selecting chew toys there are some things to look for:
1. Your puppy really likes the toy.
2. It does not look like or have a texture that resembles any household item or clothing you do not want chewed up.
3. The toy must be solid and durable; puppies have very sharp little teeth (but you probably already know that).
Toys like Kongs and Nylabones are great for helping puppies with chewing. The act of chewing something helps relieve the teething pain. Just like babies, teething is not fun for anyone.
Nylabones can also be soaked in chicken broth to make them more appealing. Kongs are hollow and can be stuffed with yummy stuff like peanut butter or even better, filled with yogurt and place in the freezer overnight. (Remember this will be messy as it starts to thaw, have the puppy lay on a towel or something you can throw in the wash.) Buster Cubes is another great toy that you place treats in and they have to move it around to get the treat out. This keeps their minds busy with something other then chewing you or your furniture.
The idea here is to get them redirected to something other than your hand or the chair leg.
Try to find several toys that your puppy really likes so you can keep changing things around so they think they are getting new toys. Take this opportunity to look for any damage to the chew toy that could cause a choking hazard. Get rid of any toy that could pose a threat.
Make sure the chew toys you select are small enough for them to chew but not so small that they could swallow it.
The next item on the list is a spray; such as Bitter Apple this is a chewing deterrent. Be sure to read the label you want something that you can spray on your hands and cloths and something you can spray on the chair or table leg. You will want to test the spray in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t leave a stain.
Now that we are equipped with the necessary tools, we can get on to training.
What is appropriate to chew and what it not?
The most important thing for this training is re-direction of the chewing. Just as if you are watching a child you need to know where your puppy is and what he or she may be getting into.
No one can watch them every second of everyday that why crates are great. A child is in a playpen to stay out of trouble and a puppy is in his/her crate to stay out of trouble. One note of caution: Never, Ever use the crate as a method of punishment. The crate should be their safe haven ALWAYS!
What do you do when the puppy is using you as a chew toy?
I know those puppy teeth are sharp and your immediate reaction will be to pull away. Don’t do it, freeze, and say no. Don’t yell we don’t want to scare the puppy. Right now for the pup to know he has done something wrong, (after he has released your hand), there should be no petting, no eye contact, no attention. These are the things that the puppy wants and if he is not getting these things it will start to click with him/her that when he bites, nips or mouths and the gets no petting or attention, something is just not right.
Once your puppy has settled down, offer him a chew toy, make it a premium one that he loves, get that frozen Kong out, and let him have at it. Now as he is chewing the right thing you can praise him, pet him. Let the puppy feel like what he is doing right now is the greatest thing in the world. Doing this a several times, he will get the idea between appropriate chewing and in-appropriate chewing.
This is the basic of stopping the biting, chewing, and mouthing. Whenever he does any of these things simply say no, he should not receive any special attention from you till he is calm then re-direct his attention. Then he can have a chew toy and you can give him all the attention for his positive behavior.
The other side of this coin.
If you don’t want the $200.00 pair of designer shoes chewed up, put them away, and close the closet door. Anything that you don’t want chewed up, put it up or put it away. This helps to set your puppy up for success. When those items are not readily available for him to chew on then he can’t chew them right?
That’s your part of the bargain. You need to make this clear to everyone in the household, if you don’t want the items chewed up don’t leave it out.
Things to avoid:
Avoid rough game
Avoid rigorous petting around the face
Avoid tug-o-war games
Avoid roughhousing in general during this phase
Don’t select toys that resemble the texture of your carpet
Don’t select toys that resemble your clothing or shoes
Don’t use an old sock tied in knots as an appropriate chew toy. That’s just asking the puppy to chew your socks, how would he know the difference?
Don’t leave things in reach of your puppy if you don’t want it chewed up.
Things you should do:
Make sure you puppy get plenty of exercise (a tired puppy is a napping puppy and not a chewing puppy)
Play with your puppy with the appropriate chew toy
Be patient, really your going to need a lot of patients, for this to shall pass
When your puppy is doing the right thing and chewing the right thing, let him know how happy you are about this, with praise and petting
Have plenty of durable chew toys available
Throw out any that have been damages
Throw out toys that can cause a choking hazard
Be vigilante; know what and where your puppy is at all times.
If your puppy is biting in an aggressive manner, or in a way that seems more that just the usual teething you need to check with your vet to make sure there are no medical issues. If the vet gives your pup a clean bill of health, you may need to consult with an animal behaviorist to get to the root of the problem. Solving symptoms in this situation will not last you must solve the root cause.
Your puppy should have a good diet, plenty of water, play, and exercise. By providing these things and re-directing the chewing it should not take long before everyone is happy and no longer a personal chew toy for the puppy.
I hope this helps you with your puppy chewing, biting, and mouthing issues. If you have any questions please visit my website and leave a comment. This way everyone can benefit from your question.
Suzanne Dean, ABCDT
Thank you to Suzanne for giving everyone such helpful information! Please let us know if you found this information helpful!