Puppies Need Early Discipline For Proper Limits
Last week we talked about what it’s like to have a puppy with a mouthful face. It takes about nine months for your puppy to get all of his big boy teeth. Puppies can be extremely talkative because that’s a big part of how they discover the world. Managing it goes with the territory of having a puppy.
Even though we understand that our puppy is trying to find his new world and teething, he still needs proper rules and boundaries for where he puts his teeth. If it has lots of toys of different textures (soft toys, rubber toys, natural bones, clogs and antlers, balls, etc.), it is much easier to move it away from the cushions and shoes on your couch.
When your puppy begins to look at an inanimate object like an electrical cord or one of your flip-flops, you should give him notice immediately. And that advice is “it’s not yours”. If he ignores you and puts his mouth on the object anyway, you must take action by saying “no!” When you approach it and push it away from the object or remove it. Having imposed this limit, now present one of his toys by saying “‘this is yours!” And praise him for taking it.
That’s why I tell new puppy owners that you can’t have too many toys. If you stumble over toys, you’ve pretty much got it all figured out … and there will almost always be a toy handy that you can give your puppy to once you push him away from a forbidden object. Once Max understands the pattern with “it’s not yours”, he’ll make the right decision on his own as soon as he hears the warning.
When you get to where he chooses correctly, you still want to redirect him, but it might just be to come to you and get affection. Continuing this warning protocol, stopping, then redirecting will begin to penetrate your dog if you are consistent.
Instead of “it’s not yours” you can use “leave it”. I tend to use this signal for more urgent situations; dogs, cats, squirrels, rotten animals on the ground, etc. If my dog despises me, I take action with a correction and then I redirect.
Correcting your puppy for putting his mouth on you when he is small is important because, as I explained last week, there is a message he is receiving from you. Not correcting Max in this scenario tells him that maybe you are equal in the pack or that he may even outdo you. This is the reverse message you want him to receive.
His mother wouldn’t let him put his teeth on her, so like his mother, if you pet him for example, and he puts his mouth on you, take your hand away and say “hey!” or not! ”As you start to stroke him again, if he puts his mouth on you again, respond the same way except this time a little harder … then start stroking him again. lower level correction is a kind of grunt, the next slightly higher level correction is more at a bark level.
If he ignores your warning and puts his mouth on you again, guess what he gets? Just like his mother would, he gets a “bite”. The way you do this is to quickly grab him by the skin of the skin with your whole hand, just behind his head. Hold it for a second while you look it in the face and say “no”. Then resume the caresses. If he gives in at this point, tell him how good a good little boy he is, but be ready to grab him again if he impulsively puts his mouth on you again.
While he might get the message, puppies are impulsive and he might not be able to help it until he gets the message of your persistence and determination. You have to stick to your guns during this training until Max understands what the rule is.
Originally from Louisiana, Gregg Flowers is a local dog trainer who “teaches dogs and trains people”. Contact him at [email protected] or dogsbestfriendflorida.com.