Bite inhibition – when a puppy or dog uses his teeth, how much pressure or force does he apply behind that bite?  All dogs can and will bite under the wrong conditions. The difference is that if a dog has acquired bite inhibition the bite will not inflict damage.  Bite inhibition cannot be trained into a dog that has missed the window of opportunity during its first 16 weeks of life.

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Puppies have to learn at a very early age that they cannot put their teeth onto our skin, clothing or body in any way. They have to be taught a soft mouth. Puppies learn to develop this soft mouth from their mother and siblings through feeding, play and mock fighting. More often than not puppies are removed from their litters before they have completed 'bite school”. In addition, children or adults inappropriately playing with small cute puppies often encourage biting and only when larger teeth grow in and/or the puppy’s jaw strengthens does the biting suddenly become a problem if the dog has not learned bite inhibition.

If you have a puppy and it is inappropriately biting, bruising or nipping then you MUST get your puppy into a well run, well managed and professional puppy class as soon as possible.  Do not punish the dog, use sharp noises to distract them, scream or hit the puppy. Aggression, even low level aggression cannot be resolved using aggression. Punishing a puppy for this biting or nipping behavior will only suppress the behavior and this can lead to trouble in the future.

Like any problematic dog behavior, teaching the dog a new, more acceptable behavior is far more effective than punishing or suppressing the existing behavior.  All behaviors that dogs exhibit are to access reinforcers or remove themselves from things they fear.  Teach the dog how to access the same reinforcement, or remove themselves from the thing they fear by adding to their behavior repertoire not reducing it.

The DogSmith in Oxford holds FREE monthly puppy training classes. Enroll in a free class and learn how to teach your puppy a soft mouth in a non aversive and non invasive manner.