ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Puppy teeth are sharp!

These needle-like teeth can really hurt when a puppy bites.(Photo: Pinterest)

VERO BEACH — Some of you may have a new puppy in your home. There are three important lessons every puppy needs to know by the time they are 4 months old.

These lessons are bite inhibition, house-training and socialization.

The time frame is crucial.

The behaviors are easiest to learn before the age of 16 weeks.

They are also the behaviors that decide if a puppy will remain in its home.

The easiest way for a puppy to learn bite inhibition is from its littermates. If a pup bites too hard, the sibling will back off and refuse to play. The biting pup soon learns if he nips too hard, the fun stops.

If he bites Mom while nursing, she gets up and moves away. The milk bar is closed.

Puppies learn quickly from members of their own species. It is a good idea to leave puppies with their littermates and mother until they are at least 8 weeks old.

This gives them an opportunity to learn bite inhibition. If your puppy goes to play dates, the lesson will be repeated over and over again. Puppies are oral.

Even if they understand the concept of a soft mouth, they are not capable of controlling themselves. They are driven to bite.

As soon as you bring your puppy home, begin to teach him a gentler touch.

Your skin is more tender than that of your puppy’s canine friends. When your puppy begins to mouth you, yelp a dramatic “ouch!” Most puppies will be startled and let go.

As soon as little Spot drops your hand, praise him and give him something other than your hand to chew on. Stuffed Kong toys and chews like Bully Sticks are good diversions.

This takes many repetitions; remember puppies are obsessed with mouthing. If Spot continues to be too rough, yelp, then ignore him for a few moments. Look at the ceiling, tuck your hands under your arms and pretend he does not exist.

Act like his mother and siblings did. Make the fun go away when Spot is biting.

Again, try to divert his attention to a more appropriate item.

If Spot persists in mouthy, unruly behavior, you may need to crate or tether him. Puppies can easily be over-stimulated.

Set yourself up for success.

You might need to limit petting to several seconds to help Spot remain calm.

Games that involve you chasing the pup or wrestling might get him too excited. Play fetch games.

Practice some simple training like sit and down.

Stimulate his mind to help calm his body. While puppy biting and mouthing is normal behavior, dogs need to know their teeth should not touch human skin.

By interrupting his biting and redirecting your puppy to appropriate toys, your puppy can learn and maintain bite inhibition.

Cissy Sumner of Best Behavior Pet Training is Vero’s first Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge and Skills Assessed and Certified Behavior Counselor Canine-Knowledge. If you have a question, email her at bbdogtraining@bellsouth.net or visit www.bestbehaviorpettraining.com .
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