If you have a puppy, you have to deal with puppy biting. It’s just a natural part of how they explore their world and their interactions with other dogs and with humans.
But what to do?
The OUCH AND AVOID method works really well.
- The puppy bites you or mouths you in a way that causes pain.
- You say OUCH! just as you would if something else hurt you. I remember getting bee stings as a child and use that rather drawn-out tone of complaint and surprise!
- You walk away from the puppy.
You may have to do this many times. If the puppy spent its first couple of months or so with other puppies in the litter, this is pretty much what they all do when they hurt each other with their new and ever-so-sharp teeth.
Over time – and it may seem like an eternity – the puppy will bite more softly. It is developing bite inhibition. Now you can say OUCH even when the bite only hurts a little. And eventually you can say OUCH to all bites, even painless ones.
I have used clicker training in connection with my puppy bite training as well. Since the click is saying “Yes, that is what I want,” how would you use it with a puppy who is biting? I use diversion. I get out one of the puppy toys and click when the the pup plays with it… this is after I have done the basic process of teaching the puppy what the clicker means. The diversion also works because you are giving the puppy something else to do, something else to chew.
For more on handling puppy biting and everything else that comes up with puppies and dogs, I really like Clickertraining: the 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer.