Biting/Mouthing in Puppies

I have been reading a lot of posts on Facebook over the past several months about puppies nipping/biting.

Puppies explore their world with their mouths so it is natural for them to bite/mouth not only objects but you, your family members and even other animals in the home as well. This is how they have played with their littermates from the time they were up on their feet. They put things in their mouths.

Misty Shores Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Misty Shores Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (2)

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppies ~ Misty Shores Chesapeakes (2)

Some do this more than others and some can be quite intense with this behavior. This does not mean you have an aggressive puppy so don’t despair!

However, it is important that you correct this behavior immediately, consistently and teach them what is appropriate to chew on. It is also important that the WHOLE family follow through with the same training.

While I have tried many different techniques, the most effective way I have found to correct the behavior is by gripping their lower jaw with my thumb in their mouth under the tongue and hold it firmly while telling the pup ‘NO BITE’! The pup will not be able to move because you have control over their head and this is quite uncomfortable for them. You are only trying to cause it to be uncomfortable not hurt them. Once you have corrected them offer an appropriate toy or treat to chew on. They will learn quickly if you and your family are consistent with this and all training.

Around four months old puppies will also begin to lose their deciduous teeth (baby teeth) and their adult teeth will begin to come in. So you may see an increase in chewing because this can be painful and uncomfortable for them.

To help them through this period here are a few ideas:

    • Freezing some of their toys such as a Kong filled with peanut butter/yogurt mixture will help relieve the discomfort.
    • Freeze a pumpkin yogurt mixture (half/half) in ice cube trays to give them to chew on. You can also put this mixture in a Kong.
    • Freeze a fresh femur bone, the marrow is good for them and the bone will keep them busy. Make sure you don’t use small bones as they can get lodged in their throats and wedged in their mouths. I use at least a 6-inch bone for my puppies. This will depend on the size of your breed.

I try to teach my dogs as puppies everything I want from an adult dog. For example, if you don’t want your dogs on the furniture, never let them on the furniture. I do not give old shoes or socks to chew on, they don’t know the difference between those old things verses your new Kate Spade boots. For the most part anything you let a puppy get away with they will continue that behavior as an adult. It is far harder to break bad habits than teach good ones when they are young pups.

While I am not a professional trainer/behaviorist, I have raised many puppies/dogs over the past 30+ years. I have changed the way I train my dogs many times as I learn better more effective techniques. The key to all training is fairness and consistency!

If you are unsure about the behaviors your puppy is displaying I always recommend contacting your breeder first. They are a wealth of information and can help you with any issues you may have. If you don’t have a breeder, contact a reputable dog trainer to discuss your training needs.

Tina and the Brown Dogs

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