bite inhibition

PUNISHMENT SUCKS FOR PUPPIES

HOW DO I STOP MY PUPPY BITING?

It’s a common question on dogs forums on the internet, I have seen it several times this week. I have seen some great blogs and videos on puppy biting from award winning trainers, and I post links to them. But still, most of the replies are,

“I shook a can of stones at my puppy and he stopped.”

“I sprayed my puppy with water!”

“I’ve seen a TV show where he shouts ‘No’ and the puppy stops. You just gave to show them who is boss.”

Urgh.

Let’s ask a new question…

WHY IS MY PUPPY BITING ME?

THIS is the question that an emotions based behaviourist asks. Is the puppy frustrated, over-tired, teething, or just doing puppy play with its humans? Or did you buy a dog bred to love biting?!

Once you know why the puppy is biting you can set about fixing it.

Frustrated puppy: change the game, teach an alternate behaviour, go back a step with your training, make sure all his emotional needs are met.

Over-tired puppy; make sure he isn’t getting too much exercise, avoid too much stimulating play before cuddle time, make sure he gets to rest during the day.

Teething puppy: redirect chewing on to frozen rope raggies, carrots, or teething toys.

Puppy play: play between puppies is bitey! Redirect your puppy onto toys, show him that play with humans can’t involve teeth.

Bought a Malinois: seek advice on putting the bite on cue and games that will provide an appropriate outlet for the biting behaviour he loves!

WHY DOES PUNISHMENT SUCK?

If you punish the puppy with a spray bottle or a rattle can, and it works (because your puppy bites less) have you fixed the problem? No. Because the puppy still feels the things that lead him to bite in the first place.

If he is frustrated he might hold back before biting harder. If he is teething, he will go off and chew up your stuff. If he is over-tired he will develop a new coping strategy which could be destruction or howling. If it’s play, or his built in drives then you will build more frustration. You will have a dog that looks obedient, but is not happy.

The same goes for a growling dog… punish the growl, take away the warning system, get a dog that just bites because he still feels the same way. Or worse, because the person he trusted has scared him (or worse).

NO NO. OR NO, BUT…

‘No’ can be a dirty word in positive dog training! But honestly, we all use it from time to time! The trick is to say ‘No, but’. To show you dog a different behaviour, that you like, that he likes, that you can praise him for!

So, next time your dog is doing something you don’t like, don’t ask ‘How do I stop this?’ ask ‘Why is my dogs doing this?’, then ‘What could I get my dog to do instead which we both like?’

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Our Vet Vicky hold the COAPE Level 6 Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour and Training. COAPE teach about animal emotions in behaviour and training, resulting in methods of fixing problem behaviour that really lead to happier pets, and owners. COAPE offer courses for pet owners, vet nurses, vets, trainers, and aspiring behaviourists!

Follow this link to the COAPE Homepage