Dog Nipping, Biting And Gnawing On Your Last Nerve

My boyfriend and I just got a Siberian Husky puppy named Frye. He’s almost 9 months old and we’ve had him for 2 months prior. Up until now, he has been well-behaved, but recently he has started biting when he gets excited. At first, the bites were far a part and soft, but lately they’ve become more frequent and have started to hurt. We have tried various ways to discourage this behavior, such as giving him more toys to focus his attention on or giving him chew toys whenever he starts to bite, to channel the behavior. So far, nothing seems to work. It’s getting to the point where we’re afraid that he might hurt others. Frye is very well socialized when it comes to other dogs, but we live in a residential area where there are a lot of children. Our main concern is that when others try to play with him, he might get over excited and bite them. We love our dog and we want to improve for his sake. What can we do to nip this behavior completely?

Danni and George.

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Hi Danni and George,

Thanks for the great question! Okay, I totally understand. Many people with teenage pup’s often feel the urge to pass out body gear with helmets to all guests wanting to say hello to their now BIG puppy. The behavior you’re describing is obnoxious for sure and yet solvable! Redirecting such behavior means creating a little structure within your daily routine, reassessing chew toys, re-organizing how your dog gets exercise, and where,when and how you play with him.

The solution to this issue lies more with you understanding how to redirect this behavior, where to apply structure and when to initiate play and how to still make things fun.

Here are some my Paws For A Minute® Dog Training Tips

1. Apply structured exercise times and separate them from walks.

Lots of people walk their dogs and play with them without intent. They can often mix up concepts of play while walking for exercise that in turn accelerate hyper behaviors. Where, how and when you play with your dog create reactions and sets triggers.

Example: Try isolating extreme exercise prior to socialization with people and guests. In other words,  play turbo fetch first, then go on a walk.  Teaching your dog to play fetch is an awesome way to keep hyper activity targeted on the movement of a ball. The key to keeping a dogs interest is only use on special ball that comes out ONLY for fetch. Build slowly to the amount of throws daily.

2. Do a re-check of his chew toys.

Example: 90% of the time puppy parents have zillions of toys for their dogs but have a distinction between play toys and actually chew bones. If a toy is lying on the ground or in the yard, overtime it becomes boring. Dogs of a certain age need to chew, not just play. Mouthy behaviors can come from frustration and ill-timed activities. Play is often induced by movement and voice inflection and a chew toy may be tossed, but the activity of your dog actually chewing on it gets lost. Many people end up playing with their dogs with chew toys and boredom of the toy sets in quickly. The act of chewing on something needs to be isolated for your puppy by creating a “chew your chew bone” time! Perhaps in a baby gated area, while you are home. This creates an activity for a young teenage dog. Chewing a bully stick, for example, will also help tire him out and give him something to focus on that’s not a toy.

3. Redirect a positive obedience command to greet new people. 

Example: Redirection can mean introducing your dog to new people while on a leash, only as an exercise for a few weeks. The leash helps you guide your dog into a sit and then a stay while being introduced to new people. If he breaks the stay command to jump up the leash can act as a boundary and allow you to say No then quickly reinforce a sit and the positive in what you want out of his behavior. Or practice with people approaching him to do so with a treat. Have them direct your dog to sit and then give him the cookie!

Change will happen overtime. Try all three tips for a few weeks and keep us posted!

Nightmare Puppy Nipping. 3 Steps To Make it Stop.

A recent reader wrote in and asked me to address the cute puppy but very obnoxious puppy syndrome called teething! This JAWS like behavior was driving them all NUTS. As cute as their new ball of fur was and as great as training had been progressing, there seem to be one MAJOR kink. Those needle teeth that latch on to your leg like a viper out of a horror movie. He explained how there perfect first dog would also endure these crazed attacks. They all have battle wounds. Wearing long sleeve shirts all the time as protection is a must. Trying to explain to coworkers that they were NOT closet heroine addicts became a common dialogue during coffee breaks.

The last straw was when the innocent new little angel or “devil dog” began to show his teeth at their first dog. This new three-months old terror was ruling the house. After reading a ton of information on how to deal with this puppy nipping, he wrote in to ask me to please explain what to do about this nipping, biting and horrible behavior!

Many people try to dominate this puppy urge. This is bad. Dominating a puppy that’s teething can actually make the behavior worse. Information on how to deal with this behavior is often incorrect and can vary from muzzle grabs to teaching the owner to  scream ouch. None of these techniques are really effective or very realistic to many lifestyles. For example, children are not going to implement the word “ouch” to effectively train a puppy. Oh they may say the word, but it’s not going to help train your puppy not to nip. Besides, teething is a biological development of a puppy, not a bad behavior. Although it should be redirected. Here’s how…

1. What often happens is that people try to cuddle with their wired for sound, squirmy, hyper, needing exercise puppy. Wrong. Play with him, tire him out, first, then cuddle. Puppies have short spurts of energy not dissimilar to human toddlers and meeting those exercise needs will help.Timing is everything. The key here is to realize that teething and biting for a 10 week-old puppy is only a phase during development. Puppy’s loose their teeth from the age of 3 months to 6 months of age.

2. Get the proper teething chew bones. Bully Sticks are the best. Period. They look like long sticks, easy to hold (so you don’t get bitten) while they chew and they will leave everyone else alone.  www.bestbullysticks.com

3. Don’t reprimand this developmental stage. Redirect it. If your puppy is pestering your older dog, you need to separate them for a short time and allow your puppy to chew a teething toy behind a baby gate. Give your older more mature dog some relief!

Your puppy needs are to run around, chew in order to loosen those baby teeth, and learn some boundaries while being trained. Often when I teach or go into a private clients home to train,  I notice many toys but rarely the right type of teething chew bones. Most people have millions of toys lying around, but rarely the right teething chew bones. That’s the key to soothing that savage beast. I’ll have much more on this exciting topic in the months to come. Remember, no matter what breed of dog, puppy teething is only a developmental phase.

Reprimanding a puppy for teething is wrong! Distracting your puppy with giant stuffed toys and lots of exercise, creating a space for him to chew and loving and  bonding with him when he is calm will ultimately create the behavior you want, until his adult teeth grow in.

P.S. Always check with your vet first about which chew toys are best for your dog.