Bite Inhibition Why Puppies Nip and Bite
Why Puppies Bite
Puppies have painfully sharp little piranha like teeth, almost like hypodermic needles, fortunately the jaw muscles are extremely under-developed at this time in their life.
One of the main reasons why you should never play tug with a young puppy, you can dislocate the jaw and misalign or damage the teeth.
Nature has given them these underdeveloped muscles to enable pups to play-bite safely.
Whilst very young and still with his brothers and sisters and he bites too hard in play he gets blasted with a ear piercing "yelp" which makes him immediately back off,.
He then waits a while then starts to play again, but a strange thing has happened, the biting is a bit softer because of the reaction of the other pup..
The same thing when feeding from the mother, the pup uses too much pressure she yelps and moves away end of milk bar. He is then gentler the next time round and a valuable lesson has been learned.
This is nature’s way of inhibiting the force of their bite well before the jaw muscles start to form properly at around about 4.5 months, which also coincides with the time that the puppy teeth start dropping out and the new bigger more dangerous teeth start to come through. This is called the age of cutting.
This learning process is known as “Bite Inhibition” it is a vital and important lesson and is the only reason why your puppies are born with those hideous teeth. This is how your puppy learns to inhibit the force of his bite and to control his jaws, It is a vital that he also learns to inhibit biting us humans.
I see many new owners who are told to stop all play biting, however this could potentially have far-reaching and disastrous consequences. If the pup is trained immediately never to play-bite, he will never have the chance to learn control over his jaws.
Dealing With The Problem
Therefore, your puppy must initially learn that all biting whatever the circumstances must be done softly. Then you can start to teach him never to bite at all.
Permit the puppy to play-bite by allowing your pup to softly chew on your hand. When he bites down a little harder than normal, "yelp" short and sharp not drawn out try to mimic the sound a dog makes when it yelps sharply and loudly, turning your head away in rejection.
Do not pull your hand away. Let the puppy move away from the sound and your hand, (pulling your hand away will only encourage him to lunge towards the moving object) As an appeasement after your yelp the pup may come up and lick your hand, accept this gesture.
Then allow the play to resume, but this time hopefully with a softer bite. If the play gets a little rougher, "yelp" again, thus further confirming that any pressure is totally unacceptable. Repeat this exercise as often as possible. And like the New York police chief who had a zero tolerance to crime you do the same with any hard biting.
You will find within a few days or a week or so, that the biting turns into soft mouthing; you will have programmed your puppy into thinking that he must not exert any pressure whatsoever whilst mouthing because of your ultra sensitive reaction. Now you can teach him the “OFF command to stop all mouthing.
The "OFF" Command
Put your dog on its 5 foot + lead and the *Jingler. see my website for the very best leads and collars for your puppy and the *Jingler.
Take a treat, cheese, frankfurter, or baked sausage pieces are ideal.
Lure the dog into a sitting position by taking the treat over the top of its head dog. Hold the lead in your left hand and the treat in your right between forefinger and thumb.
Offer him the treat and gently say “Good take it" do this at least five times,then offer the dog the treat and do not say anything.
When the dog goes to take the treat turn your head sharply to the right and bring both hands up to your chest making the Jingler tinkle and the food to be moved away and gently say "OFF" the Jingler really helps the dog focus and concentrate on what you are teaching.
What you are actually saying is by using the word “Good” which acts as a target word similar to a clicker, and it is confirmation that the behaviour is correct, the “take it” is a permission command.
You are effectively saying, this is my bone and you are prepared to share it but only when you give permission, the permission is “take it” You are also training control of the greatest resource possible “FOOD”
Repeat the "OFF" command until the dog turns his head away, Watch for the movement and the body language and as soon as he does this say "Good take it" in a praising tone then give him the treat, keep repeating the exercise until the dog naturally turns his head away when you offer him a treat when you do not give him permission.
Keep the dog on a lead in the house (you must always be present when the lead is on). When he jumps up or tries to bite the children or you grab the lead and say "OFF” for the bite and “OFF " for the jump, giving a slight corrective jerk on the lead at the same time.
Do not praise the dog when he stops you are only praising the bite or the jump. Repeat exercise until he stops jumping up and biting.
If the above does not appear to be working as the puppy is so insistent and is continually biting you or your kid’s hands and feet then get some bitter apple and spray their hands and feet for a few days. However it must be bitter apple made by Grannick as it is the only chew or bite deterrent that actually works. All the others I have tried are just a waste of money.
*The Jingler is a simple device I have personally developed, that uses sound therapy, it works by distracting your dog momentarily from what it is doing and makes it concentrate on you. The repetition of the jingle and either a change of direction or a command conditions your dog so that it associates the jingle with a movement or command.
It aids concentration and confirms your training command. It can be used for many behaviour's like lunging, jumping up, walking to heel and barking. It can also be used in some cases for both interdog and human based aggression. Like a clicker aids marking good behaviour the Jingler marks bad behaviour. Dogs and puppies need to learn what is acceptable and what is not.
Just praising the good behaviour and ignoring the bad cannot teach the dog boundaries and good behaviour see my article Killing with Kindness.
This is a short Video on the subject.