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How To Eliminate Your Puppy’s Love of Nipping
If a puppy has ever nipped you, you know those teeth can be as sharp as ice picks. While other dogs generally have thick skin and can handle a nip relatively unscathed, we humans are not quite so lucky. And the answer is yes, a puppy bite can definitely break skin.
So how do you put a stop to nipping your puppy?
First, it helps to understand that it does not bite malware. Biting and mouthing is a natural activity for puppies and young dogs. They instinctively nip when they play with their siblings. This is how they interact with the world around them. Left with his family, a puppy would soon be taught by his mother and siblings to control his bite. But most puppies are removed from their mothers before they have had a chance to learn this lesson.
With this in mind, taking advantage of your puppy’s natural instincts can actually provide you with an easy, painless way to prevent his biting. All you have to do is let him play and socialize with other dogs. Puppies love to roll, roll and play. They also like to nip. If your puppy becomes a bit too rough in the company of other dogs, the rest of the group will quickly correct his inappropriate behavior. As simple as it is, this socialization with other dogs is easily the most effective way for him to learn to control himself when he is tempted to nip.
There are other benefits to socializing your puppy as well. He will learn not to be afraid of other dogs. He will spend his excess energy. And you will find that he communicates better with the rest of your family. Puppies that miss out on socializing with other dogs tend to be hyperactive and destructive and display other problematic behaviors. Additionally, unsocialized dogs will often react aggressively to new situations. So any effort you make to expose your puppy to other dogs and new people (especially children) will pay dividends in many areas of your puppy’s development.
This can be particularly useful if you have children in the family. Children are closer in size to dogs, and often have the same puppy-like energy that can be interpreted as aggressive by a dog. So, while your puppy is still young (four months or even younger), this is a good time to make him communicate with children in an appropriate way that does not excite either your puppy or the children. This can be especially important if your puppy comes from a breed of large or aggressive dogs.
The next way to work with your puppy in eliminating biting behavior is to gain his trust and respect. This goes a long way toward making all training easier and more effective, especially if you are working to correct problem behaviors.
How do you earn your puppy’s respect? In treating him with respect.
Whether you are training your puppy or just playing, always treat him with respect. This means do not hit or slap your puppy, even in situations where you are trying to correct inappropriate behavior. Physical punishment will not only destroy the confidence and respect of your puppy, it will make him afraid of you. More importantly, it is often ineffective. Scolding your puppy will not stop him from biting. It will only confuse him.
Using positive reinforcement, which generally means treats with lots of praise, will teach him faster and more effectively to play without biting.
A dog that bites will grow up to be a dog that bites unless you teach it better. Left alone, these negative behaviors only get worse. So deal with them early, and deal with them positively, and you’ll lay the foundation for a loving, healthy relationship with your puppy for the rest of his life.
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