Puppy Terrors

Ouch! Are you dealing with the “Puppy Terrors”? Here is some general advice for new dog owners who are experiencing some issues with biting/mouthing. Though each dog is different & may require the evaluation of a trainer, the following tips in general can be helpful to all pet owners.
First and foremost, relax. It is most likely that there is nothing seriously wrong with your new family member so don’t think your situation is hopeless. Often we become so stressed out with our new expectations of what our pet “should” be doing that we miss out on the joys of puppy-hood that allow the dog to grow and mature in a healthy environment.
Your puppy is separated from his mother & litter mates around age 8 weeks. Puppies learn bite inhibition from their siblings & its typical behavior for them while they interact with each other.
The mother dog will train her young by standing up and walking away when bitten. When puppies bite too hard during play with their siblings, the bitten puppy will yelp and stop playing with the rough puppy. Or the bitten sibling might leap up and knock the offending puppy over with a loud bark or growl. This teaches a puppy that playtime ends if he bites too hard.

John with Dawson and Sam

Keep in mind, there are many things that may be affecting your dogs behavior. Here are just a few questions to better understand what might be contributing to your dog’s undesirable ways.
How much exercise does it get? Have you taken the dog to a puppy training class? Do you socialize the puppy? Does the puppy spend time playing with other dogs?
Whether your dog is a puppy or older, they can always learn bite inhibition and is never too old for training. If you are willing to put some time and energy into training your dog, rest assured that their behavior will improve.
Sometimes when a dog “bites/mouths”, it is possible that she thinks it’s a game & is not trying to cause harm. Just like children, dogs need structure, rules, and boundaries. Puppies in particular have to be taught the “house rules” about what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Things such as couch privileges, leash walking, and how rough is too rough to play are all part of this process.
A consultation with a reputable dog trainer and a 4-6 week positive reinforcement based obedience class is an excellent investment in your dog’s behavior. A quick google search for “positive dog training” in your area should help you find local resources or you can email us for our local recommendations. Of course you can also ask your friends and neighbors, or even your vet, for recommendations.
This subject is just another reason why everyone should avoid puppy mills & choose a quality breeder for their pet. Puppy mills often breed dogs with health and genetic problems and care only about making a profit so issues of genetic flaws/temperament are not a big concern to them.
Often, people will purchase a dog from a puppy mill to find that the dog is sick, sometimes very soon after they come home. This is such a problem that there are puppy “Lemon Laws” and lawsuits happening right now. Make it a top priority to find a breeder who offers a guaranty on their puppies & ask them for as much information as they can provide you on their genetic testing. A true quality breeder will have no problem directing you to this information. If you ultimately discover that this is a genetic issue with your pet, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the laws in your state. For more information, click here:

For a puppy that seems unusually hyperactive or is biting to the point where you can not control, you may want to consult your vet about their anxiety level.There are even anxiety medications and natural calming products available that may help in some situations.
We send ALL of our puppies home with a Snuggle Puppy, a stuffed animal that recreates the intimacy and physical warmth of a mother dog with a simulated heartbeat. The result is a calmer, more peaceful pet – one that feels less loneliness, fear and separation anxiety.

Check out Snuggle Puppies

Amazon has some great selections on dog behavior, check out this book ’s approach on positive dog training by renewed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell.
Hang in there and always be proactive. You may need a mix of training, socialization, behavior modification and medication to get your dog to a happy place, but almost every dog can get over this stage & fit into your family life in harmony.

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