puppy biting- how to handle it - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-16-2011, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, sorry for the multiple threads; I'm a brand new pet owner with lots of questions. We just got a six week old pit-mix who is very sweet, smart and playful. We're having a bit of a biting issue. It mostly happens in the mornings, when he's super frisky, and when the neighborhood kids come over to play with my children; he gets really excited and runs around nipping at them. My husband and I are really calm with him, and if he starts to nip, we firmly say "no" and end the play. He's gotten the message, for the most part, that adults are no fun to bite. The kids are a different story; he thinks they're his chew toys. (Although today he did bite me and drew blood. I had to pry his jaws open to get his tooth out of me.)

So I'm wondering how to handle this. It's difficult to get the kids to approach the biting calmly- they often freak out which excites the pup more, causing more biting. They're 5 and 7, and are trying to respond appropriately - but it's hard for them because like I said, he thinks of them as chew toys and goes after them more aggressively- and those puppy teeth hurt!! He has several chew toys, which he plays with aggressively.

I want to make sure this problem is resolved quickly and in the best possible way.


Loving mother, Devoted Wife
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#2 of 6 Old 03-16-2011, 03:14 PM
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Congrats on your new puppy! Exciting!

We had "fun" with the puppy nipping and our daughter. That was definitely a challenge for a little while.
Your puppy should have NO unsupervised time with the kids. Hard, I know, but its really important. If young kids do not have the control or maturity to enforce good puppy behavior then they shouldn't be allowed to be around the puppy unless an adult is right there, preferably with pup on a leash.
When my pup was small we kept a leash on her whenever my daughter (same age as your kiddo) had friends over. We often did the same when it was just our daughter. The puppy seemed to sense that she was a "human puppy" and that she was ripe for play fighting. I'd clip the leash to my belt buckle with a carabeiner. (It helped great with potty training, too.)
Using the leash was the best way to keep the pup from getting carried away, and also to keep the pup from learning bad habits with children. We also trained our daughter to YIP as loudly and sharply as she could whenever the pup nipped, and then the pup went immediately into the crate. We had to do this until she was about 4 months old, but now at 8 months old she is GREAT with kids and never, ever uses her mouth with them.

You are also going to want to get your pup exposed to age-similar puppies ASAP for dog socialization and bite inhibition learning. Due to your dog's breed this is going to be especially important, as some of the bully breeds can become dog aggressive if not socialized to other dogs when very young.
At six weeks your puppy was really taken much too soon from his mama and litter-mates and this is really going to effect his bite and nipping, as well as his future behavior with dogs unless he gets lots puppy time within the next eight weeks.
Young pups have a very important "bite inhibition" period where they really need to have that rough play they get with their litter-mates. Puppy play teaches them how to gauge the correct pressure to use when mouthing. A puppy always uses its mouth when play-fighting, and when a litter-mate bites too hard the pup YIPS and quits playing. They learn that rough playing results in losing a playmate and learn to hold back their bite.

Someone I know adopted a 6-week Doberman pincher and it turned out to be a BIG problem; he was great with all people but very under-socialized to other dogs because of his early adoption. He had no bite inhibition. He ended up severely biting his "dog house-mate" during a play fight one day. greensad.gif He'd never played with other pups and never learned to "hold" his bite.
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#3 of 6 Old 03-16-2011, 09:03 PM
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We have a new pup as well, who has quite a bit of shepherd in him -- so a lot of mouthiness. Our 3 year old is slowly, slowly learning the proper way to play with the puppy. They do not play unsupervised, however. Our rule is that as soon as teeth touch skin--even accidentally--the puppy gets crated for a time out and remains there until he's calm. If he mouths or nips at clothing or goes after something that isn't a toy, we redirect. We're using a method called NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) as guidance -- there are lots of resources available online. Children, especially older ones such as yours, can use NILIF methods as well -- it might be something to look into, anyway.


I also second the notion that socialization with other puppies and dogs is crucial!

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#4 of 6 Old 03-17-2011, 02:39 PM
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No unsupervised play with the kids, use no, redirect them with a toy and make sure they get plenty of exercise. 

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#5 of 6 Old 03-21-2011, 08:25 AM
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Yikes, yeah the 6 weeks could cause an issue.  Make sure to really work on bite inhibition and socialization now.


Get into a puppy class as soon as you are able.


Redirect and ignore the nipping...nipping starts all fun ends


This is a great source of info


Before You Get Your Puppy


After You Get Your Puppy 

Nicole - )0( unschooling mama to Lilahblahblah.gif (12/21/05) and Cianwild.gif (9/21/07) as well as 3 dog2.gif 2 cat.gif,  4 rats, chicken3.gif and ducks

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#6 of 6 Old 03-23-2011, 09:41 PM
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One thing that our trainer suggested to us (and it worked) was actually a couple things:


Even if you/dh play tug of war style games with the pup--the kids don't.  We actually were told to avoid those games at least until the nippy phase was done.

If the pup starts to get nippy or too excited in a way that might lead to nippyness, the child stands up, crosses arms, and turns her back.  She waits until the pup calms down (ours would sit, and give the kid a look-- like 'what's up') then she can play again.  (ETA:  we role played this with the kids so the understood)


While we didn't have to do this. .  . it was offered as a last resort:

Put a bit of the bitter apple spray on our hands.  


But, I second a puppy class!  We had so much fun at ours and learned a ton too.  Our trainer was a certified behavorist as well and she was so wonderful.  



Mom to three very active girls Anna (15), Kayla (12), Maya (9).
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