Teaching Bite Inhibition
The fact that puppies mouth nearly everything in their environment can actually be a good thing. It means that you have ample opportunities to teach puppies what they can and can’t chew and how they should behave with their mouths around humans. The more opportunities you have to teach puppies about chewing, the sooner the puppies will learn their lessons. Bite inhibition involves teaching a puppy that it really hurts when they bite someone. Even though puppies have weak jaws, their needle-sharp teeth can cause severe pain. Although puppies can’t cause severe damage to someone with their teeth, they must learn not to nip when they play. Otherwise, when they become adult dogs, they may unintentionally cause significant damage to someone while they’re playing together. Do not try to forbid your dog from touching human flesh with its mouth completely. When you start teaching bite inhibition you increase the chances that if the dog ever does lose control, the result will be a soft harmless mouthing, not a hard bite that tears flesh. This practice provides one more line of defense against behavior that can create a serious rift in the human-dog bond. Owners who have plenty of interaction with their puppies should have plenty of opportunities to teach bite inhibition.
Here’s a simple procedure for teaching bite inhibition: Whenever your puppy puts its mouth on any piece of human anatomy, let out a high-pitched yelp or ouch and stop interacting with the puppy. Get up, turn your back, or leave the room – whatever it takes to impress on the puppy that you want nothing to do with it This is the same way that littermates tell each other when play gets too rough. Keep yourself separated from the puppy for just a minute or two.Allow the puppy to come back to you. A puppy may be so excited about regaining contact that it will immediately begin to put its mouth on you.Again let out a high-pitched yelp and stop interacting with the puppy. Don’t feel sorry for the little guy and ignore this nip. A second offense should get the same response – a yelp and another minute or two of noncontact.Continue this procedure until the puppy doesn’t nip when you return. Every time it nips, give it this “timeout.”
The puppy should soon learn this important lesson. As an alternative to this method, you may begin the same way – by letting out a loud yelp when their puppies bite. Then they should encourage the dog to mouth a toy, that is, provide a substitute for the puppy to chew on. A puppy being trained not to mouth a person is learning two essential lessons. The first is self-control. It’s extremely hard for a puppy to refrain from something it wants to do, but it’s also very important that the puppy gain that ability. Second, a puppy is learning that people have remarkable tender outsides that can be hurt by the merest grazing of a tooth. When a puppy begins to understand this, it will be careful not to injure its large but fragile companions. Occasionally a puppy doesn’t react appropriately to the owner’s yelp and the separation. In fact, it may even become more excited when it hears its owner call out. The owner of a puppy like that may have to take stronger measures.
If this technique one doesn’t work try this second technique: When your puppy nips at you, say “No!” in a voice that tells the puppy you’re serious.Grasp the puppy’s muzzle just for a moment and look sternly at the puppy. Don’t squeeze the muzzle. The purpose is not to inflict pain. Just reach down over the top of the muzzle with your thumb on one side and fingers on the other. Don’t hit or shake the puppy at all. Just take control of the pup’s muzzle for a moment, let it go, then leave the room. This technique is similar to what a mother does when puppies get out of control. As the puppy starts to get the idea, you can begin to say “gentle” or “easy” when it looks as if the puppy may be inclined to bite. This word becomes a command to exert no pressure when mouthing any part of a human. A biting puppy is not cute. It's actually quite painful. It's important to correct this behavior before it gets out of hand.