Stop Your Dog From Play-Biting With You

Both puppies and older dogs love to play-bite. If you have a multi-dog household, you’ll see that your dogs wrestle, growl, and snap at each other. No harm, no foul — unless one of the dogs gets a bit too aggressive and starts a for-real fight. What if you dog play-bites you?

Adam Katz discusses this issue in his downloadable book, Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer. It’s not okay for your puppy to play-bite with you; this will teach her that this behavior is acceptable. Her little “needle teeth” can wrack up some serious scratches on your hands and arms! Since puppies grow into dogs, and some very big dogs at that, they will continue to play-bite as long as you keep signaling that this is okay by not correcting this behavior.

When your puppy play-bites you, try the “Alpha roll;” this clearly establishes that you are the Alpha (leader) of the home “pack.” You’ll see mother dogs using this natural canine instinct when she rolls the puppy onto his back and pins him down. Not hurting him, but nonetheless teaching the pup who’s boss; you don’t bite the boss!

To Alpha roll your play-biting puppy, gently but firmly roll her onto her back, using your hand to close her mouth. Look down upon her and right into her eyes, then say, “NO!” in a stern voice, but without yelling and frightening the pup. Then release her. If she’s docile and doesn’t repeat her biting behavior, praise her and give her a toy she’s allowed to chew. You must be absolutely consistent and do this every time she play-bites until she stops the behavior altogether.

With a play-biting adult dog, outfit her with a “pinch collar” and keep her on a leash, even in the house. Every time she gives you a play-bite, pop the leash once, then immediately release it. Don’t tug hard on the leash; a pop is slightly uncomfortable, but a hard tug hurts. Dogs don’t learn by being physically abused; they learn by your firm, consistent, but unharmful discipline.

As you pop the leash, be sure to give your dog the “down” command, accompanied by the hand signal of placing your palm a few inches from her nose. This type is training is a motivational correction, not punishment. One of your dog’s strongest motivations is to please you; she will correct or abandon her behavior that doesn’t please you.

Puppies and adult dogs that are allowed to play-bite with you will be untrainable as service dogs, therapy dogs, show dogs, or protection dogs as long as they continue this behavior. Since it’s easier to train a dog than un-train one, start today by training your puppy that play-biting is not acceptable.

{ 0 comments… add one now }