Vizsladogs, Ltd.

Puppy Biting, Part 2

Hi All, I have been reading all the suggestions on play biting and I'd like to add my 2 cents,  I have dealt with a lot of puppies and owners in the last 16 years and I have found that up till the pup is about 12 weeks the screech, when they bite works good, then totally ignoring the pup for a few minutes.  I used to suggest the scruff shake, or the nip on the nose, or a rap under the chin but I not longer like to use correction or confrontational behaviors.  The reason is most times it backfires and causes the pup to start challenging,and biting more, especially if the owners are very doating over their pup or playing tug or wrestling games.  My rules are:

  • No games with the pup that promote excitability and biting behavior - tug, wrestling, pushing, even when they jumps up, don't push off
  • Before 12 weeks screech - ignore
  • Distract with a toy
  • Give pup access to play with other pups or well socialized adult dogs
  • Teach the pup the word OFF - start this as soon as you get the pup home.
  • Teaching OFF -  put a treat ( hot dog/ steak/ ) in your closed fist - put your hand in front of the pups nose, SAY NOTHING, allow the pups to give all kinds of behaviors to get the treat - ( biting / licking / pawing / barking ) SAY NOTHING - when the pup gives up and turns his head away say OFF - open your hand - Tell him TAKE IT. praise,  do this about 5 times a session until the pup no longer trys to get the treat and just waits, this is the time to say the word first.  Be sure that you have had a good history of the pup doing the correct behavior before you use it when the pup is biting you. When that time comes, close your fist, say OFF, when the pup backs off be sure you have some treats in your pocket to reward him with. [See a more detailed explanation of the OFF commande here.]

I find that little children and some adult fly their hands away when a pup trys to bite to solicate play, this encourages the pup to chase the hands and bite more.  I allow mouthing only with pups, I want pups to learn to inhibit the force of their bite while they are young.  This is also something that pups will learn normally if they are with other dogs.

Some Vizslas are very obsessed with mouthing arms as a greeting behavior, I feel this is an extention of the retrieving instinct, my male Beau did this more than any of my females, the females would always pick something up to greet me.  I modified this rather than correcting because I didn't want to confuse him and correct him for what was his normal greeting.  I started by replacing my arm with a soft toy, then petting and stroking him telling him Hello, as I placed the toy in his mouth I told him GET THE TOY.  My next step was to tell him GET THE TOY and direct him to where the toy was, then all I had to do was tell him GET THE TOY and he would go find the toy so he would get his petting/greeting.  Now the only time I have this behavior pop up is when occasionally a visitor comes in, I have to remind him to GET THE TOY.

>I don't think that puppies get to understand the difference between dog and human society overnight, not even over weeks or months, it takes a long time to educate them.  Breeders start the process, owners need to continue it as soon as the pup comes into their home by teaching them a second language, the human language.  As the pup begins to understand we then use that language to solicate the proper behaviors, the behaviors that are exceptable to us in our society.  We as dog owners also need to educate ourselves on what is normal dog behavior and how to manage those dog behaviors until the time we can solicate more exceptable ones by teaching not correcting. This promotes a much more trustful, respectful and fun relationship between dog and human.

Well, I said my piece, now I go back to lerking. Dee Chuisano, Alde's Vizslas, New Milford, CT

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