Two common behavior issues seen in puppies are play biting and jumping. Both behaviors are reflections of how puppies play with their litter mates, so approach these problems with the understanding that your young dog is doing what comes naturally to him. Continue reading for some simple steps to help teach your puppy that these behaviors aren’t appropriate with humans.
Puppies bite. It’s a fact of life. Not only is it a natural form of play for them, it also helps them explore their world. Knowing when it’s friendly and when it’s serious is the first step in correcting this behavior.
When to be Concerned
If your puppy nips at you during play or when he’s greeting you, and he’s under 6 months of age, it’s a friendly gesture. A dog mouthing you in response to your attempt to make him do something, such as pulling his collar to get him off your bed, is a serious biting response. In these cases, consult a professional trainer to learn leadership exercises.
Correcting the Behavior
- For friendly play biting, let out a high-pitched yelp when your puppy nips at you. Be loud enough to startle, but not scare him. This is the way his litter mates would react to unwanted biting. If this technique doesn’t work after a few tries, redirect his attention to one of his toys when he nips. Give him a firm, “No,” right when he bites then hand him a nearby toy.
- Puppies perceive petting as a lead-in to playing, resulting in nipping and mouthing at your arm. A surefire way to avoid this is to only pet your puppy when he’s tired or preoccupied. When he’s lying down after a long session of exercise or he’s chewing on a favorite toy, gently pet him for as long as he doesn’t react with his teeth. If he begins to nip at you, walk away.
- Train your puppy into not biting. Sit beside him with small treats in your hand furthest from him. Pet him once with your nearest hand and then quickly lure his attention away with a tasty pet supplement from NuVet before he has a chance to nip at you. When he follows your baited hand, praise him and reward him with the treat. He’ll learn to pay attention to the hand not petting him in hopes of getting the treat.
Another play for attention is jumping on you when you come home or while you’re playing. Teach your puppy that he gets no attention at all from you when he jumps. If your dog jumps on you and keeps his paws on your body while staring and/or growling, especially if he’s not a puppy, you’re facing a dominance issue and should once again contact a professional for leadership training.
Correcting the Behavior
- If your puppy jumps on you whenever you come home or enter a room, shun him by quickly turning your back on him and cross your arms across your chest. When he has all four paws on the ground, turn around and acknowledge him. If he attempts to jump again, repeat your shunning position.
- If he continues to jump after three or four chances, walk away from him and prevent him from following you (i.e., close the door or use a baby gate). You can also ask for an obedience cue, such as “Sit,” before he has a chance to jump on you. Then reward his “Sit” with lavish praise and petting. He’ll learn that he gets the attention he wants when he sits rather than when he jumps.
- To prevent jumping on guests, put your puppy on his leash before allowing people to enter. As you’re opening the door, ask for a “Sit” and “Stay.” Have treats nearby and pop one in his mouth as soon as the door opens and he remains sitting. If he begins to jump, use the leash to prevent him and give him a firm “No.” The guest may not pet him unless he remains sitting.
Jumping and nipping need to be handled consistently by everyone in the household. If your spouse allows your puppy to jump all over them when they arrive home, the dog will learn he only needs to keep his paws on the floor when you enter the house.