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Having a new puppy in the household is not a simple task with no extra work. Sometimes it may feel as though a puppy is more trouble than a baby, because a puppy can’t wear a diaper and has very sharp teeth and nails. Puppies investigate their world by putting things in their mouths. Teething is also occurring and their mouth and gums may be itchy and tender. Chewing can relieve some of the discomfort. Puppies also like to play with a rough and tumble way and nit at owners hands. although this may be tolerable when the pup is little, it won’t be as the pup gets bigger. Being a puppy owner means having the time and patience to teach the puppy acceptable manors and what is good and what is not acceptable in human households.

Most puppies will want to bite or mouth hands during play or when being petted. this is rarely true aggression on the part of the pup or intent to do harm. Because puppies get so excited and is so normal for them to take things in their mouths, attempts to suppress or stop the behavior are unlikely to be successful unless the puppy is provided with an alternative. the goal of working with the normal puppy behavior is to REDIRECT it’s desire to put something into the mouth by giving it acceptable objects and teaching it to be gentle anytime a hand is in the mouth.

A way to encourage acceptable behavior is to offer the pup a small tidbit of food or a small rawhide chewy or other type of chew toy whenever you pet it. This technique can be especially effective when children want to pet the pup. As you reach out to scratch the pup under the chin with one hand, offer the chewy with the other hand. this will not only help shy puppies learn that people and petting are wonderful, but will also keep the puppy’s mouth busy while being petted. Short episodes of petting should be used when pups become excited with the activity. Nipping is more likely when the pup is in an excited state. DISCOURAGING UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR
In addition to giving a puppy an acceptable object to chew, it must also learn to be gentle with hands, and that nipping hard results in unpleasant consequences for it. One way to do this is to teach your pup that nipping “turns off” any attention and social praise and interaction. After a hard nip, look you pup in the eye and with a loud firm voice say “NO”. Then immediately leave the pup and break off play and ignore it for at least an hour. Other family members should join in the hour of “shunning” to assist in the lesson. Breaking the routine or forgiving the pup with kind words or actions prior to the end of the punishment period will destroy the effectiveness of the lesson.

Discouraging nipping can also be done by loosely holding either the pups lower or upper jaw after a nipping event. Don’t squeeze and hurt, but gently hang on so that where every her mouth goes, your hand is still gripped. This will quickly become tiresome for the pup. After 10 to 15 seconds of holding release the pup and continue to offer your hand. If the pup licks the hand give it praise and reward, but if it nips repeat the procedure.

Again if the pup becomes excited during the procedure leave the pup and give it the shunning treatment. Another alternative is to wear cotton gloves and put substances such as Bitter Apple on the glove. When oral contact is made the taste gives a mild lesson that nipping is not pleasant.

Violence, tapping, slapping, or hitting the pup in the face are almost guaranteed to fail and may worsen the problem and convert the normal play to aggressive action. This can also make the pup “handshy” and even afraid of human contact. It is usually an open door to excitement and a greater chance of nipping.

Many pups get overly excited with tug-of-war and wrestling games which make nipping more likely. these types of games tend to encourage the puppy to compete with you, and to grab and lung for you. If you are already experiencing a nipping problem, you don’t want to encourage these behaviors. Some puppies can play these games and know their limits while others cannot handle the excitement.

A puppy will virtually inevitably chew and chew up something of value. This is part of having a puppy. the first thing you can do to minimize chewing problems is to “puppy-proof” your house just as you would do for a toddler. Put the trash out of reach or buy containers with locking lids. Encourage all family members to pick up clothes and toys. don’t leave eyeglasses, briefcases, and TV remotes in reach of the pup.

If you catch your pup chewing on something that it shouldn’t give the pup an acceptable toy or chewy to have as its own. Furniture may be coated with Bitter Apply or a light mist of water then powdering with cayanne pepper on areas that are chewed. Pups are like children and with many toys laying around they become disinterested. Have a stash of 10 toys and rotate them giving 2 or 3 toys a day while picking up the previous days toys. Remember not to give articles of clothing, socks, shoes, or other items that would be off limits or resemble off limits items. Puppies cannot be expected to tell the difference.

Crating and Supervision are very important parts of minimizing chewing problems. Don’t give you pup the chance to go off by itself and get into trouble. Use baby gates, close doors, or even tether the pup so that you can keep an eye on it. This will help with both destructive chewing and housetraining. When you must be gone from the house, either crate you puppy or get it used to staying in a small “puppy-proof” area. Be sure to crate train your puppy properly and not overuse the crate. Puppies under 5 months of age should not be crated for longer than 4 hrs due to less bladder and bowel control.

Remember that punishment is not as acceptable a tool as positive reinforcement. Pups can reason and remember actions that they have done. Scolding in the presence of the chewed item followed by withdrawal of attention and affection for at lease 1 to 4 hours by all family members is helpful. Be sure to supplant the chewed item with available acceptable chew toys. Whipping and beating is not acceptable and can confuse the pup. Giving a mild negative stimulus of shunning works much better. The real key is preparation and showing your pup the acceptable chew toys.

Animal Medical Clinic
600 W. Lincoln Street
Tullahoma, TN, 37388
(931) 455 - 6723

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