Tips for Puppy Biting

Tether the dog and sit on the floor and play with him near his mouth. If he bites you hard, and immediately say “too bad” and walk away from him and ignore him for 20-30 seconds). Take all toys away as well. Return after 20 seconds and repeat. Each time he bites, all attention and fun are immediately removed. This may take lots of repetitions. Practice for 5 minutes 2-3 times a day.

Try to hand-feed him an entire meal one kibble at a time (either breakfast or dinner). Make sure you tell him to sit. If he grabs for the food, remove your hand. Say “Take It” and feed only when he doesn’t grab.

Offer him some food in a closed fist. If you can see a full set of teeth as he grabs for it, withdraw it and, if necessary, move backwards away from him to prevent any tooth-contact. Anyone feeding the dog when he’s grabby and mouthy is reinforcing this behavior! Also, avoid using cues like, “gentle” or “easy.” Otherwise he will learn only to take it softly if he hears those words. That means he’ll continue to grab hard with anyone who doesn’t use those cues or if someone happens to forget to say them.
Hold the food in a closed fist, but present the back of your hand to the dog. You can also make gentle contact with the dog’s nose, first w/ the back of my hand making a circular motion on the tip of the nose. It’s sort of like a massage that helps calm the dog. If the dog continues to remain calm, you slowly reposition your hand down toward the dog’s mouth and then bring your hand around to feed him from the side of the mouth.

He needs good strong chew toys (like the Kong) to exercise his jaw. You can also give him a knotted wet rag that has been in the freezer to help relieve the gum irritation he may have from teething.

If the pup bites calmly redirect pup to the bully stick (or whatever it is the dog is liking…but actually name something and make certain they have lots of the item so it is at hand).

Praise pup for chewing appropriate item. If this does not work then calmly take puppy to a room or crate away from everyone. Leave pup alone for 2-3 minutes and then quietly release the puppy. Give the puppy something appropriate to chew. If the puppy resumes biting then repeat.

If the biting occurs at a particular time of day, prepare for it by taking the dog for a walk or having a play session to tire the dog out before the dog gets bitey. 


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Some General Training Tips

A good trainer is: Fast, Patient, Generous, Unpredictable and Variable.

In the beginning, you must reinforce a behavior IMMEDIATELY every single time you give the cue. This is called the “acquisition” stage of the behavior. As the behavior becomes more reliable, you can begin to delay the reinforcement (treat, ball, affection), or go to variable reinforcement (reinforcing every few times). You must stop being predictable! Here are some tips to make you be a better dog trainer.

• Concentrate on and reinforce the things your dog is doing right. Try to ignore behavior you don’t want to see repeated. If you can’t ignore it, manage it.

• Remember that the reinforcement (treat, ball, toy) you use has to be reinforcing to your dog! Kibble (dog food) usually isn’t enough, unless the dog is starving. Experiment with different levels of reinforcement – from regular treats up to pieces of leftover meat or cheese. Save your most potent reinforcement for the behaviors that are most difficult for your dog.

• Placement of the reinforcement is extremely important. Where your treat goes, so goes your dog. Thus, if you want your dog to walk right beside you, make sure you deliver your treats next to your leg, at the dog’s head level. Try not to make the dog jump for a treat, unless you want the dog to do so – as in a trick.

• Marking a successful behavior. As you teach each exercise, make sure your dog knows exactly what you want him to do. Do this by MARKING the precise moment the behavior occurs. We call this a bridge. So, in teaching a Down, the instant her entire body touches the ground, you say “YES!!!” and deliver a treat. As the behavior gets more reliable, stop saying “yes” every time she does it. However, each time you say “YES” a treat should be forthcoming.

• Make it harder. When you began training your dog, you lured the dog into position. Once there you gave her a treat. Now we wish to prompt the behavior, mark the proper one, and reward intermittently from an unknown place.
As an example, if you were trying to get your dog to lie down, you would begin by luring, then rewarding the behavior. By now, when you say “Down”, she lies down – but she does it much better when she sees the treat in your hand. So we have to teach her the ZEN of TREATS – in order to get the treat, she must give up the treat. Hold your treat in the hand that is not doing the signal. Show the dog your hand without the treat. Tell or signal the dog to Down, and wait for the dog to do so. Wait until she does. Don’t go back to the lure yet. When she does lie down, give her a wonderful treat from the other hand. You are teaching the dog that the treats she can’t see are even more potent than the ones she can. And it’s teaching her she doesn’t have to see the treat to do the exercise. (If she doesn’t down, she may not understand; go back to the beginning, and review until you get a good down with a lure).
Do that for a while. Then, delay the treat for a tad, and when you do deliver it, do so from a desk or counter. Then give it for two downs (twofer), then three, then four. But never go to no rewards. Try to vary your reward as well; different kinds of treats, a tug toy, or ball playing after a short session.

• Never take a behavior completely for granted. That leads to the Straight A Student Syndrome. If no one pays attention to you when you’re being good….you’ll be bad! F students get a great deal of attention when they make a C, and they learn that creating havoc leads to more attention. Pay attention to the correct behavior!

Alway focus on positive reinforcement. It works better, and produces a happy, obedient dog.

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