Nipping and Biting Puppy Training Guide will provide an overview of the goals, tools, and most common mistakes often made in the process of training a puppy to use their teeth appropriately. We have worked with a lot of English Cream Golden Retriever puppies and dogs over the years. These tips are condensed into a basic training model.
You can expand on these tips, over time, using the basic model as a starting point. All of our approaches are based in a positive reinforcement training model where we focus and praise the behaviors we want. We combine our approach with a communication model which teaches us what we are really saying to our dogs when we communicate with them.
Puppies use their teeth from an early age to communicate with their littermates. This communication is natural as they instinctively explore, learn, play, interact, and communicate. Much like human babies explore their environment by putting things near or in their mouth. The problems may begin to materialize when a puppy continues chewing or biting your family members, their belongings, or you. The best way to ensure she learns the boundaries and appropriate ways to use her teeth, is to start communicating with her right away. This is how we begin training, each time we are spending time with a puppy, we clearly communicate appropriate behavior.
Nipping and Biting Puppy Training Guide Training Goal
Anytime her teeth touch your skin (even accidentally) say “OUCH” and immediately stop playing with her. Wait a minute. Then continue playing with her again. This will remind your puppy that if she wants to play she will need to pay attention to where her teeth are engaging.
Have plenty of toys around to divert your puppy’s teeth from your clothing (robe, shoes, or pant leg). Make sure you are clearly communicating you are not going to play or continue the activity (walking, training, rewarding, etc.) for one or two minutes, a ‘timeout’ break, and then you will resume.
Physically Moving Puppy
If a time out is needed in another location, another room for example, be sure to return and resume playtime (or the activity you were engaged in) within two minutes. Each time she remembers to chew and bite, on the toys you have provided for her, praise her and reward her.
Common Puppy Playtime Mistakes
When our children were babies we would giggle and coo with them. We would let them model and show us how to play, communicate, and engage. One of the most common mistakes we see is this similar behavior with puppies. It seems to be a natural response to allow a puppy to model the play time games. We might find ourselves tugging a toy (while they are holding it with their teeth and tugging it), or we swat or grab their muzzle, in response to the play they are modeling, and allow them nip on our hands. This is common and will inevitably result in problems over time.
Toys Should Be Toys
Another common mistake in training a puppy is to let him play with old shoes but scold him for playing with your new shoes. This crosses over into several areas and will confuse him. The main goal in training, relationship building, and communication is to provide him with clear understanding of the behavior you want. This goal is complicated when the tools used to teach aren’t clearly defined.
Be sure all toys can be chewed, nipped, and bitten.
Choose toys your puppy will not confuse with your belongings or the tools you use in training, such as the leash or harness for example.
Nipping and Biting Puppy Training Guide Model Praise and Treat
The right way to train a puppy is to be the model for her, praise and reward her when she behaves how you would like, and disengage with an “OUCH” and a time out (for a minute or two) each time she even gently crosses the boundary. Choose and provide plenty of toys your puppy will not confuse with items she is not allowed to chew on. Praise her for chewing on toys and especially reward and praise her for playing politely with you as well as other people, friends or family members.
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