Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Irvin, teaching a dog what is called Bite Inhibition, is one of the two most important things you can do for your dog (in addition to socialization) and especially for the breed you have. I am going to try and give you a summary of it, or else you can read all about it on my friendsofthedog website in more detail on the Puppy section.
A pup should be allowed to chew and nibble on people up to the age of about 4 months when the adult teeth come in and be sure to keep on practising this as the dog ages to make sure it stays in place. It is an exercise that is done ONLY by itself, never in conjunction with other training exercises.
1. Start off with a treat such as a chicken Vienna sausage in your hand, with the top end of the sauage facing downwards. Offer this to the dog while it is sitting.
2. As the dog takes it gently, say 'good dog/good gently/softly' over and over.
3. The SECOND the dog bites down too hard, scream like you have been murdered and storm away for about 30 seconds.
4. Then come back as if nothing has happened and start the exercise again. As Gary Player once said "the more i practise the luckier i get". Get the drift??
The dog will gradually learn to lessen the force of its biting and you can then graduate to more solid items such as dog biscuits. The beauty of using the sausage is that it is soft and will encourage the dog to bite down with less force.
If you are playing with the dog (you should not rough play with dogs, always to be a training exercise) and it bites down too hard, repeat similar to above, this time screaming OUCH in your loudest voice and storming away. Again come back after about 30 seconds and practise,practice.
What you are doing above is copying the natural behaviour of dogs i.e. a pup is drinking from its mom and the teeth start coming in and the pup bites down - the result? The mom moans and walks away. When two or more pups are playing and one bites too hard, the pup that is bitten will scream and run away. The message - bite too hard and all the good stuff stops. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to get a pup at 8 weeks of age where it has already started playing with litter mates and mum has installed some discipline and why puppy socialization (especially off-lead play) is so important. Hope this helps, thanks Scotty
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