Behavior Tip of the Month
Play Biting - #2
"OUCH! Mommy, the puppy is biting me again"! Does this sound like your house?
Puppies play bite - this is normal puppy behavior. As the September 2002 Behavior Tip column showed, there is much you can do to lessen your pup's mouthing. However, if the pup is nipping to get your attention, you need to teach your K9 an alternate good behavior. Instead of mouthing you to make you notice him, you could teach him to lay down and chew his chew toy. As a reward for this admirable activity, you can periodically give him low key petting, praise and even a treat.
As Janet A. Smith, Behavior Program Manager for the Capital Area Humane Society says, "Pup(s) need a 'to do' list. I would begin immediately teaching pups two things:
1. Follow me around the house; your owner needs supervision.
2. After you've followed me around, your job is to lie down and play with a chew toy or nap."
To teach your pup to settle down:
a. Tie him to you by a 6 -12 foot leash. This will teach your pup to go where you go.
b. Stuff a Kong or Kong Biscuit Ball with your dog's canned food or water soaked Kibble. You can even freeze the food stuffed Kongs. Microwave for 10 seconds right before you give your pup his breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner in a frozen Kong. Alternatively, you could give your dog a Bully Stick.
c. As Janet Smith says,"what you do is simply sit in the room with your dog and ignore all (his) behaviors except lying down.... as soon as pup lies down, toss (him) a treat. Don't worry if your K9 gets up. Wait ... pup will lie down again ... (then) toss a treat. Gradually extend the time pup is to be settled. Practice in various locations. One nice treat for pup when settled, is a stuffed Kong. (When) pup settles, present the chew toy. From time to time quietly praise, pet, acknowledge pup in a meaningful way for going about the house with (you)... settling with his toys and minding his own business. This is 'passive time' spent together.... passive in the sense of pup spending time with you but not pestering you. If we want less demanding dogs we have to pay attention to our dogs when they are not being demanding!"
The key is to ignore the bad and reward the good. I hope you will teach "your attention-seeking-missile" how to have good conduct. Then praise, pet and give him attention for these 'best-in show' behaviors.
This Settle & Chew command can be taught to older, rescue and adopted dogs as well. Like puppies, they also need to know what is good conduct in your house. Besides play-biting, teaching Settle and Chew will lesson all kinds of objectionable activities.
Your dog will thank you for teaching him colossal canine conduct - instead of punishing him for bad biting behavior.
If you teach your dog what's 'right', you won't have to settle for 'wrong' unsettling behavior!
Good luck, Carole
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.