Bite Inhibition, Teaching Your Pup Not To Bite
Dogs use their mouths for everything!
- It is normal for a puppy to mouth people as a way to explore, taste, test and find out their strengths. Puppies and dogs bite in play all the time.
- They communicate to each other through a complex series of body signals that their intent is to play, no harm done as long as they are socialized with other dogs and puppies at a very young age.
- They attempt to play with humans in the same way as it is natural for them.
Teaching your dog bite inhibition is a process and not one to be taken lightly. If bite inhibition is not started in puppy hood, the result is a mouthy, annoying adult dog.
While it may be tempting to stop all biting, nipping and mouthing immediately, doing so is a great disservice to your dog and everyone he may meet throughout his life. Why? Because dogs and puppies need to learn the power their jaws possess. If you eliminate all biting immediately, your dog will not learn that he can control the power of his jaws and may result in a serious bite in the future that inflicts pain and damage. Therefore we teach bite inhibition in several steps regardless of the age of the dog or puppy.
No Hard Bites
Initiate play with your puppy. Inevitably, he will bite or mouth you or he’ll get your finger back into those molars!
- When that happens, Screech “OUCH!” Think of the noise 5 year old child would make to startle your puppy. You want him to STOP, look at you and come back to apologize.
- Next time, after you screech, get up and walk away, ignoring your dog.
- Practice a few repetitions of SIT, DOWN, TOUCH or WATCH ME to show your puppy you are in control and GIVE him the chance to earn rewards from you.
- This applies to hair, shoes, pants, etc.
- Repeat this step every time your dog bites on you.
No Soft Bites – remember, a bite is still a bite
See above for the steps…
When your dog is no longer biting “hard” and is learning control of his mouth, teach him to stop mouthing on command.
- Repeat the steps under “No Hard Bites” pretending these softer bites are still painful.
- It is important for the puppy to learn that humans are super-sensitive and must be played with carefully.
- Begin cueing your dog “That’s Enough” when he mouths you and immediately stop interaction for a few moments, then go back and do some obedience work.
It is vital to your dog’s ability to negotiate through life with good bite control. We expect our dogs to be our best friends and guardians and to understand the difference between the friend at the front door at 2 PM and the intruder at 2 AM.
While this is not fair to the dog, when a dog bites a human or other pet animal, the life of the dog is often determined upon the severity of the injury. Please practice bite inhibition at every opportunity! The more feedback your dog receives from you at an earlier age, the better. As for biting/mouthing children, they must be supervised and taught how to teach the puppy and separated when an adult cannot oversee the activity.
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.