Puppy Class And Biting, Mouthing Puppies
What is the number one reason for puppy class? To continue to work on puppies’ acquired bite inhibition. Put differently, to teach people how to give appropriate feedback to their mouthy young pup with needle-sharp teeth.
It’s generally the very first question we get at our SIRIUS Puppy & Dog Training School, “How do I stop my puppy from biting?” Even though puppies are pretty tiny and have weak jaws, there pointy little teeth really pack a punch. It is no wonder people don’t want their pups to bite them, but our job at puppy school is to convince people not to punish out mouthy exploration too soon. Rather, we teach people to give appropriate feedback to a biting puppy.
We start with ground rules. Young pups are allowed to mouth human hands and only human hands. Not hair, not faces, nor feet, or clothing. Hands are both pretty durable and yet quiet sensitive. This gives us the opportunity to gauge the pressure of a pup’s bite quite well, without enduring lots of damage.
Each week we tolerate less and less pressure from the pup’s growing jaws. We praise gentle licks and chews and cry out in pain and surprise when the pressure gets too strong and end interaction/contact for a moment. Just like a pup’s mum or littermates would do if she got too rambunctious or rough.
The pup learns that humans are delicate creatures indeed, and that to keep attention coming or a game going, they must be super gentle and careful, lest they get banished briefly which is no fun at all.
Why do we put so much emphasis on this one particular skill? Because accidents happen and dogs may bite when startled or stressed and we want to make sure that if that ever happens, at the very least no one gets hurt. All bites are not created equally and it’s important to remember that a growl, snap, muzzle-punch, light-bite with no marks, bite with no punctures, and a damaging bite are all progressive levels of communication and they do not happen by accident. Dogs are very clear and precise in their actions.
Please read the story of Honey and Layla for a real-life illustration of the importance of practicing bite inhibition and impulse control exercises with your puppy. We just love stories like this one!