Last week we started talking about bite inhibition and yelping as a way to communicate to Puppy that she’s using too much pressure. I have a bit more to add to that this week and a caution.
First, the caution. In some dogs and in some cases, the pup will not respect the yelp at all and it may excite them more. This is the case with Luna. In cases like this, your best option is to end play time immediately. I. Mean. Right. Now! A short time out of 2-3 minutes is usually long enough and then you can start play time again.
Also, I realize I should have told you all to not stare at Puppy when you yelp and she backs off. This usually tells her that the yelp wasn’t real and she doesn’t need to listen to it. In cases like this, Puppy will usually wait a second and then jump back in, jaws at the ready for another sharking. Instead, do not make eye contact. Look away for a few seconds, then re-engage Puppy in play.
So, how is the first part of bite inhibition going? Is Puppy getting the idea? If so, let’s move on to the next part. If not, give it another week before moving forward.
It is very important to make sure Puppy knows what is acceptable to chew on. Keep a good supply of acceptable, puppy safe toys for Puppy to chew on and rotate them frequently so that she doesn’t get bored. Also, you can redirect Puppy and distract her with an appropriate chew toy when she’s wanting to use you for that purpose. When Puppy chooses the toy over sharking you, praise her. Let Puppy know how good she is for chewing on her toy!
Also, if you do have to get up and walk away and Puppy decides to nip and bite at your ankles, pant legs, shoes, feet, etc, toss a chew toy behind you as you leave so that she gets distracted with it and leaves you be.
Again, we want appropriate chew toys here. No toys with cracks or bits that can break off and be swallowed.
The last part of bite inhibition is simply teaching Puppy to keep her mouth off of you. In order to do this, we’ll refer back to our discussion of “Leave It”. In fact, we’ll be taking the first step of the leave it training and applying it here. Just think, Puppy will be starting to learn another skill!
I’ll repost the basics here so you don’t have to look them up again.
To teach leave it, I start with two treats, both bite sized. One treat might be a piece of kibble or a piece of a dog biscuit. The other is a high value treat like a bite sized piece of chicken or cheese or roast or something really, really yummy. With one piece in each hand, place the high value treat hand behind your back. Offer the treat hand to Puppy enclosed in your fist. Now, Puppy will sniff and lick and paw at your hand trying to get it. Firmly say, “Leave it!” like you really mean it. DO NOT give this treat to Fido. Wait until Fido sits or backs off from your fist and is calm. Then praise Puppy with a “good boy” and quickly offer the high value treat behind your back. Repeat this several times, a few times a day for a week until Puppy is really solid with the command with the treats in your hand. Really, expect this to take a week to be solid. Don’t progress too fast or you’ll have to start over when Puppy’s capabilities fall apart.
Alright class, any questions?
And now your weekly dose of Luna cuteness!
Luna is learning to play “fox on a stick” as a way to get exercise, has lessened the pressure of her teeth on human skin (we are no longer all scratched up) and has begun the basics of “leave it”. She is starting to eat more food at a time and is sleeping for longer stretches at a time at night. I’m sleeping on the couch less and less. However, she does not like to have anyone out of her site and howls and throws a fit if she is crated and I walk into the kitchen, or need to put her outside on her own for a minute while I clean up a mess in her crate (Bad Mommy! Didn’t make it in time to get her out!).
No pics of her this week. It’s hot out. Really, really hot out! As in, it’s supposed to be 105 degrees today, which according to records, has not happened since 1942, and that is the record for the hottest day here in the Portland area. I have boxes everywhere and I’m not going to show you how messy my house currently is. Nor am I going outside to swelter forever. So, I will tell you that Luna is probably about 12 lbs and her head is finally bigger than a Blue Buffalo brand dog biscuit. (For those of you that don’t know, it’s about the size of a saltine cracker). Now, that’s just the top part of her skull, not including her muzzle. I’m going to have to let her collar out some in the next couple days as well.
In the mean time, we’re sweltering. I wish you all cool breezes and a peaceful day! More tomorrow!