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How to Nip Puppy Nipping in the Bud
updated: Aug 20, 2011, 9:45 AM
I recently adopted a puppy whose biting habits are getting worse! No one can sit without him nipping their feet or attacking their shoes! Saying "No" and sticking him in his crate hasn't seemed to deter him. Do you have any suggestions?
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Dear Miss Kathy,
Do I have any suggestions? You bet I do. And I'd be happy to provide my pooch pers-pective on the issue at feet - er, hand.
Here are the four tenets of my Mutt Model:
Know Your Animal! Helloooo? You have a dog. Dogs nip, chew, bite, and chomp. And, as he gets older, he'll most likely continue to do so to explore the world and all that's in it! FYI, us canines tend to really like objects that move or that reciprocate in play. Remember, attention -, whether positive or negative, - can cause a behavior to happen more often. So, if you're hootin' and hollerin' when your dog is attacking, you may just be inaadvertently rewarding the behavior you don't want!
Whaddya Want? What would you actually like your dog to do? Do you want him to just hang out and lie there quietly while you're sitting around? If so, have you taught him how? If not, then I'd say that's the first place to start.
Reward. Reward. Reward. If playing nicely and/or ignoring feet is what you want;, how many times have you rewarded him for doing just that? Seems you might be focusing on the incorrect choice. Saying "No" and sending him to his crate is giving attention to the behavior you don't want. Plus, it could be he not only gets the attention he wants, he also is given time to take a rest before the next round of feet-attacking begins. Hmm, it's like a boxing match, when the bell dings to signal the boxers to go to their corners for a rest. Anyway, if you are intending a "time out", then that should only last an average of 20 seconds, followed by an immediate opportunity to be rewarded for making the right decision.
Know Yourself: If you've had a long day and don't feel like dealing with your dog's nipping habit, arrange his environment so he can't practice the behaviors you don't want. Sequestering him to an area with fun things to do is fine; just avoid sending him to his crate, yard or another room without anything to do. That's just torture for us pups! Situating him in his crate with a chew bone, placing him in the yard with a fun food toy to play with or hookin' him up with a pet-sitter, dog walker or doggy daycare are all op-tions that keep him busy and out of your hair.
Take Paws and Reflect
Determine what you want for yourself and what you want from your dog, teach him, provide appropriate outlets and reward him heavily for making the better choice. This will make everyone happy, including your dog and any other humans in his vicinity. A win-win for all, including the shoes!
Poncho Mayer is a 10-pound inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human and ca-nine behavior. HeHe and his mom work together running the family business: providing dog training services to other inquisitive canines and their humans. For additional training and behavior tips subscribe to their blog.
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