My Puppy Thinks I Am a Chew Toy

Does your puppy treat you like one of its littermates by biting? Oddly enough, one of the quickest ways for you to get your puppy to stop biting is to make a sound like one of its littermates. You are about to learn a little “Doglish.”
I hear you now asking, “What is Doglish?” Doglish is the way that dogs instinctively communicate with each other. There are some things we can do to speak Doglish with them. Read on to learn more.
Did you ever wonder why puppies bite? Puppies experience their world first through their mouths. When they are born, their eyes and ears are still closed. They find their mother through tasting her scent with their tongues. The next thing they do is eat. They rely completely on their mouths to get them from point “A” to point “Mom.”
It is worth noting that some puppies continue to use their mouths even after their eyes and ears are open. Many of these dogs become “mouthers.” They continue to put their mouths on their mom and siblings as they are growing up. Some of them don’t even bite down, they just touch with their mouths. While this is not a terrible thing, it can be a bother for many humans that don’t really care for dog mouths on their hands.
Back to our lesson… There are many lessons puppies learn while with their littermates. How hard to bite is one of them. When they bite a littermate too hard, an immediate high pitched yelp is sounded. The biting puppy will be startled and look at its sibling like, “Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that would hurt you.” The puppy might bite again but this time with less intensity to see if that is an okay playing pressure. If the same sound is made they will learn that they still bit too hard. The puppy will either stop or will try again with a lesser pressure. This will continue until their sibling indicates that they have applied a tolerable bite for playing. So too, must you learn to yelp in a high pitched tone to speak “Doglish” to your puppy.
When your puppy bites you, give out a high pitched “Ouch!” toward your pup. You have now spoken your first word in Doglish. Your puppy will typically look at you with wide eyes and amazement. Laughter at this point is not your best move. Stay in the moment by maintaining eye contact with your puppy. Wait for them to make the next move. If your puppy comes to you for affection, by all means pet them. This is their way of apologizing. Your puppy may attempt another bite. Your job is to be consistent with your Doglish. Your puppy will learn that puppy teeth touching human skin is unacceptable, because you will continue yelping until no teeth are offered when your puppy touches you. Yes, this may take a little while but, more times than not the results are awesome.
In the event that your dog is not progressing along with the plan, you will need to move on to the next step which is standing up and turning your back on them. This may sound a little silly but in fact, if the puppy continued to bite its mother, she would get up and turn away from them. If turning away didn’t work, she would actually get up and walk away from them. In the puppy’s world, this is one of the worst things that could happen. Their playmate leaving them really is a big deal!
Another way to react to puppy biting is to use redirection. When the puppy bites you, firmly say the word “No!”, then give them something else to chew on. Once they are chewing on the toy, you should praise them. Your puppy will learn that you are happier with them when they chew on their own toys rather than chewing one you.
There are a few very important rules to remember when you are teaching a puppy about biting.
• Never hit, slap, or yell at them as punishment. Some puppies will take on unwanted behaviors as a result to these methods.
• Consistency is extremely important. Your puppy needs to know that the rules are always the same. Get everyone in the household to participate in the training. It is a good idea to inform household visitors of the routine as well. This will keep your puppy’s training consistent. Another important rule is to always reward positive behavior and discourage negative behavior. Always use positive reinforcement!
• Avoid playing rough games like tug-of-war or roughing the puppy’s face with your hands. Many people think it’s cute for the puppy to get feisty when played with. What you are really doing though is teaching the puppy to get angry. It is not very fair to get them angry but then not let them have a means of getting even.
Remember, you get a gentle puppy when you treat them with gentle kindness.
Until next time, remember to practice your Doglish!

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