Puppy Mouthing/Play Biting

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Keep in mind that puppies, like human babies need to explore their environment. However, since puppies do not have hands, they reach out with their mouths. Puppy mouthing can also be a form of social play also. Given that human skin is more fragile than a dog’s fur-covered skin, puppies and dogs must learn that they cannot interact with us the way they interact with their canine  counterparts. Therefore, they must be taught alternative ways to greet, socialize, and play with us. Many times puppies will also play bite and mouth for physical interaction, out of boredom, excess energy and even if they are teething. There are several things you as the owner can do to help your puppy learn that play mouthing and using you as the new favorite chew toy are not appropriate behaviors.

When your puppy gets too rough simply say, without yelling, NO BITE Redirect the puppy and replace yourself with a more appropriate item to chew. Some good examples of appropriate chew toys for a mouthy puppy are: frozen Kong’s, a knotted towel soaked in chicken broth and frozen, a real bone, Nyla-bones and even specifically made puppy teething toys. Try not to reinforce the behavior, at first it might be cute, but if it is not corrected soon enough this once cute behavior will turn into an unruly disaster. It is essential that you redirect you puppy immediately, if you engage in the rough play with your puppy you will only be encouraging it. If they are nipping, say NO BITE give them an appropriate toy and walk away. You can also remove yourself, if the puppy is nipping and mouthing for your physical attention. Many times simply removing yourself from the equation can be enough for the puppy to understand that the particular behavior they were engaging in gets the owners attention taken away. Generally a 3 strikes and you out situation works quite well also, after 3 strikes the puppy has lost the
privilege for social interaction. Place the puppy in a quiet room or their crate with an appropriate chew toy and let them be.

Every puppy, and owner is going to experience something called the Witching Hour. This usually takes place somewhere between 6:00pm and 8:00 pm lasting between 30 and 40 minutes and can include play biting, mouthing, and even the dreaded zoomies. You know, that wonderful moment when puppy has so much energy for no apparent reason and they begin taking laps around the house, jumping on the furniture and you are trying to balance the lamp, TV and dining room table that are in the disaster path!? A key component to remember is: A TIRED PUPPY IS A WELL BEHAVED PUPPY. Try taking puppy for a walk right before the witching hour, play catch or work on some obedience commands with them. The key here is you cannot prevent it, but you can manage it. If the puppy is tire and had worn off most of their excess energy and had some mental stimulation before the witching hour, you can minimize not only the length of time but the intensity.