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Tuesday Training Byte: Mouthy pups

I frequently get questions regarding a pup that thinks its owner is a chew toy. I have talked several times that early separation of a pup from mom and litter mates can bring this on as the pup missed out on the bite inhibition manners, but let's focus today on what to do about it now. The pup has no idea that teeth against human skin is just not okay. First, don't encourage rough play using your hands. Be firm about it while making a harsh sound like "Ah!" (the a sounds like the a in "bat"), then game is over and puppy goes in his crate for a few. Sometimes the puppy is just overly exuberant and gets carried away. Reach down and grad his collar and twist with your fist closed firmly around the collar and close to and behind his jaw where he can't get a hold of you. Hold this firm correction until you feel the pup stops fighting you, and may start to relax or calm down. Then immediately release the twist while maintaining the hold, praise and treat the dog. Or just praise. After several times the pup will begin to learn that mouthing your hand is off limits, and will use self control. If the pup is small enough and does not have a collar on at the moment, you can reach under his lower jaw and clamp his mouth shut and hold it, again saying something like "Ah" or no bite, or knock it off. After a moment release the pups mouth. It is up to the owner to set clear boundaries and be consistent in enforcing the rules. Be sure that you or household members are not instigating this mouthing behavior.

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