How to stop puppy-piranha from eating your fingers (your socks, your cell phone, your shoes...)?
The puppy bites because it's fun and entertaining, because it takes care of her energy and frustration, because she is teething and wants something hard to chew on, because it gets your attention, because she is overly tired and cranky, like a little toddler.
You must take care of three important things here:
- making sure your pup gets the energy out in a positive way, and rests when needed;
- make sure that the puppy knows biting is not welcome, and it's not a game;
- teach the appropriate behavior to take care of puppy's needs (wanting to play, wanting attention, teething, etc.)
Rule #1: Your daily routine should include games, short walks and active playtime. If she is too tired from positive interactions with you, she is much less likely to get in trouble.
Young puppies cannot go on long walks, but they do want to play, and have the energy for it. Make sure that several times a day you play with your pup.
Rule #2: Put your stuff out of reach. If she can't reach it - she can't destroy it, therefore, bad habits don't develop. If it's your hands that the puppy is biting on, say "OW", get up, and turn your back to the pup right away.
It will feel a bit silly to do it the first few times, but it is a very effective way to communicate a simple message to your little shark - when teeth come out, all games stop.
Rule #3: Be firm in what you don't want, praise enthusiastically what you do want.
Say, "No Biting" and redirect puppies teeth and energy on a toy. As soon as she grabs onto the toy - give a happy "Yes!" as a feedback to your pup. You must realize that this will take several weeks to sink in. Do exactly same thing every time.
Rule #4: Be consistent and don't give up.
For a while it may feel like nothing is happening, as if the puppy is not getting it, and your hands will look like they have been pulled out of a fish tank with piranhas. It's not unusual or abnormal. One day you will realize that instead of attacking your forgotten sock, the puppy is happily chewing on her own toys.
It will take maturity, time, consistent discipline and patience before you will see improvements. By following the steps described in this article, we avoided major losses from puppy teeth while raising our rottie Ella. All that she ever damaged was a cell phone charger, and a slightly ripped sweatshirt.
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