Being the pet parent of your teething pup, you’ll often be faced with torn and damaged upholstery, rugs, and carpet or you’ll see your favorite furniture having plenty of nips and bite marks. While it is true that you cannot remove this biting and nipping behavior in dogs for the simple fact that it is in their nature and that biting and nipping in puppies actually help prepare them to become better members of the pack, you can always do something to make their behavior more appropriate. Here are 10 puppy teething survival tips that will help you and your pup get through this anxious period.
- Don’t separate the puppy from its littermates until it is ready.
One of the many reasons why a lot of puppies don’t grow to become well-mannered dogs is that they are separated from their littermates at such an early age. Biting a littermate too hard means it won’t play with the biting pup anymore. Biting or nipping too hard on mommy’s nipples during feeding means no more snack time for the pup. These are just some of the things that a pup learns while it is still with its brood. So, don’t take it away from its littermates and its mommy before it reaches 8 weeks old.
- Start your pup with a well-taught puppy group class.
You’d be amazed at what a well-taught puppy class can do for your young pet. It will be beneficial for both you and your pup. You will learn many of the techniques that will help you survive your young dog’s nipping and biting behaviors so that you will be more empowered and feel more confident about its management. It also helps establish the bond that you will be forming with the young Fido. Your puppy, on the other hand, will learn from its ‘classmates’ how to behave properly especially when in the company of more adult dogs. Do understand, however, that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior strongly recommends starting socialization for puppies as young as 8 weeks old.
- Provide highly durable chew toys.
Puppy Chew toys do more than just facilitate a more non-destructive chewing for your pup. These can also help them dispense of all that energy inside, making them happy and feeling more content rather than bored, depressed, or even anxious. From rawhides to Kongs to bully sticks and to Nylabones as well as rope toys, you can use these gadgets to divert your puppy’s attention from your furniture and other household items. You can even use old washcloths that have been soaked in low-salt chicken broth before being frozen. However, if you do use these toys, make sure that you are there supervising it.
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- Hand-feed your pup.
For some owners, feeding their dogs by hand can be quite gross and disgusting. But that is actually one of the most wonderful feelings you will ever have. It also tells your pup that you care for it so much you’re not really concerned about putting your hand right in front of it for your pup to lick. It greatly improves your bond with your pup. Besides, it also teaches your pup that you are a very rewarding and exciting pet parent to spend time with.
- Provide adequate physical as well as mental stimulation.
Most dogs bite and nip simply because they don’t have anything else to do. While giving them doggie toys can help, they cannot play with these all the time. As a pet owner, you need to keep them physically and mentally stimulated so they won’t have plenty of time to bite or even nip. This may not eliminate the behavior, but it sure can reduce the intensity and frequency of the mouthing behavior.
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- Teach everyone in the family to “be a tree”.
Do dogs run after trees? If your puppy simply loves to nip at your kids’ arms and legs, maybe you need to teach your kids how to “be a tree”. As the term implies, just ignoring the behavior of your pup will simply make you less enticing as a potential target for biting.
- Soft-mouth train your pup.
This is best accomplished with a treat in your hands. You use this treat to train your young dog on how to control its bite. Show your pup you have a treat in your hand. Now close your hand. If your pup licks your hand or even applies slight pressure on your skin but without puncturing your skin, click the clicker and open your hand. However, if you feel pain with your pup’s bite or there is a tear or puncture on your skin, you remove your hand and try to walk away. After 10 seconds, try to re-engage your pup. With constant training, it will learn that too much bite force will lead to a withholding of the treat.
- Teach your pup to “leave it”.
This is almost similar to soft-mouth training except that you will be using a rope toy. On one hand you have the toy and on the other hand, the rope toy. Playing tug with your pup, you’ll then say “leave it” while opening the other hand to reveal the treat. The natural reaction is for the pup to go for the treat. Over time, you’ll be replacing the treat with another toy until your puppy understands what “leave it” means.
- Consider using bitter apple spray.
You may also want to protect your household items from your pup’s biting behavior. Some actually recommend using bitter apple spray which needs to be applied on furniture or any other object that your pup loves to chew on. It really doesn’t taste that good so it should deter your pup.
- Crate train your puppy.
Training your pup to associate its crate with pleasant activities rather than as punishment can go a long way towards correcting their undesirable biting, chewing, and nipping behavior. There are plenty of resources on how you can train your pup to love its crate.
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Surviving your puppy’s teething months can be daunting for most newbie pet parents. Adhering to these simple tips can help you breeze through this period relatively unscathed.