One of the first dogs I ever owned was several months old by the time he came my way. He was a German Shepherd named Hans, and came from a puppy mill that is well-known in the area in which I live.
Hans unfortunately had a hard bite, no doubt the result of little or no bite inhibition training by either his mother people, as his breeder was known to put puppies up for sale as soon as they were weaned. This lack of training, in an unfortunate combination with his somewhat threatening appearance, led to a number of difficult encounters for Hans and myself, and ultimately, to his early demise. This taught me, with much heartbreak, that training a dog not to bite is absolutely critical.
What is Bite Inhibition?
Bite inhibition is the process by which a puppy learns to modify the pressure of its mouthing. All puppies mouth and bite their litter-mates, their mother, and any humans within their circle of acquaintance. Puppies that are allowed to remain with their mother and litter-mates the recommended eight weeks will learn valuable bite inhibition lessons from their brethren and dam. Canine mothers typically don’t take well to the worrying of a pack puppies’ needle sharp teeth!
There are few lessons that a puppy can learn that are more important than puppy training biting. As a matter of fact, world renowned veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist, Ian Dunbar considers it to be the most important lesson of a dog’s life.
Why Teach Bite Inhibition?
Puppies that are not taught to moderate their jaw pressure often, sadly, end up being perceived as dogs that bite. Dogs that bite, sadly, often end up dying prematurely, as was the case with my first dog, Hans. Experts generally agree that it is best to teach bite inhibition by the age of four and a half months. It is possible to teach bite inhibition to older dogs, but the process is generally much more difficult, not to mention time consuming.
There are two primary components that are necessary to Stop Puppy Biting -; one is simply allowing the puppy to stay with his mother and litter-mates for a full eight weeks. The second, is for a concerned person, and preferably a number of people, to take the time to teach the puppy to inhibit his biting behaviors. Puppies tend to follow their impulses, and frequently play quite roughly.
How Do You Teach Bite Inhibition?
First of all, we all must realize that punishment is not necessary to teach bite inhibition. We’re simply need to increase the puppy’s awareness of the consequences of his behavior, aka, that they’re unwanted. When a puppy’s play bites are too hard, the person playing with the puppy can Stop Puppy Biting by simply ceasing all play.
By saying, “Ouch!” it is possible to alert the puppy to the changing state of affairs. A brief time-out in which all play ceases will allow the puppy to refocus. If showing a strong “ouch” reaction doesn’t halt the pup’s behavior, then cross your arms, turn your back, or even get up and leave the room briefly to emphasize the unwelcomeness of the puppy’s bite pressure. Puppies are innately social creatures. They want to play and to interact. They wish to please. It is up to the humans in their lives to communicate those behaviors that are appropriate, and those that are not.
What are the Benefits of Teaching Bite Inhibition?
Few puppy owners, when they first search for information on how to stop puppy biting, realize they have the potential to stop dog biting in the future. A dog that is systematically informed that his biting is unwelcome will first learn to lesson the pressure of his bite, and, as time goes on, will learn to moderate the pressure with which he mouths even more.
All that is required is for the person working with the pup to continue to show a reaction, even to a reduced bite pressure. Following the absorption of this lesson, the puppy will then, as he continues to mature, will begin to lesson the frequency with which he mouths.
It is important to use food when teaching bite inhibition, and to bop a dog on the nose with the food when he displays excessive eagerness (and bite) to get his treat. There are few things as gratifying to a dog owner as knowing his dog can be trusted to gently take a cookie from the hand of a toddler.
Dogs are not humans. They cannot drive, speak or vote. They depend upon those who breed and own them to honor certain responsibilities, one of which is to teach them to engage in or to refrain from particularly socially desirable behaviors. By taking the time to work with your puppy, and to teach him to inhibit his bite, you will be doing much to ensure the quality as well as length of his life. This ensures you will never know the heartbreak associated with having been the owner of a dog that was never taught bite inhibition, such as was the case with my first dog, Hans.