Mouthing & Biting
These tips are intended for puppy mouthing and nipping. It is a normal stage that all puppies go through. If you have an older dog that you feel is biting aggressively, then contact your vet straight away. He will be able to rule out any medical problems and will refer you to a qualified behaviourist if necessary.
All puppies bite but learning bite inhibition will teach them to have soft, gentle mouths when they are older.
The first stage is to phase out all hard, painful bites. Most puppies will respond to a sharp squeal when they bite too hard and will stop mouthing.
Some become excited when they hear a squeal so instead turn your back with arms folded, give a wide eyed stare or low growl, or turn your back and walk off.
Once the painful bites have stopped, start to phase out medium bites in the same way by pretending that they hurt.
When you have a puppy that mouths in a gentle way, phase out all mouthing so that he understands that he must never put his mouth on human flesh.
You will keep his mouth soft if you continue to keep him familiar with the feeling of hands in his mouth.Brush his teeth and stroke around and in his mouth when he is relaxing.
Jumping and NippingIf the dog is over excited, then he probably needs to be outside running off a little energy, or perhaps placed in a quiet place for a few minutes to calm down. Games between children and puppies need to be managed carefully as childrens' high pitched voices and fast movements are very stimulating to small puppies. Teach children to stand still with their arms folded across their faces when the puppy becomes too boisterous.
You can manage puppy nipping with a preemptive strike if you can predict the behaviour. If you know that the puppy will rush at you and grab the hem of your trousers, then you can distract him with a treat as he comes towards you and practise a little heelwork instead of heel biting.
If he grabs hold of clothing, stay still and gently take hold of his collar. Do not pull him away but hold gently and remove the tension on the fabric. He will soon let go as he is unable to tug on the material.
Older puppies that are still grabbbing hands, (it's a labra' thing!) need to be dealt with more firmly. Teach 'off' by offering a treat in a closed fist. He will attempt to get the treat at first but will turn his nose away when he is unable to reach it. As he turns away say 'off' in a neutral way and treat him from the other hand.
When you are sure that he understands that off means 'remove your face from my hand', you can use it for any hand grabbing.
He has to understand that you do not like him grabbing your hand, so say it in a firm voice, keep your hand still and give him a hard, wide eyed stare.
Puppy mouthing does not last for long and if you train him correctly, he should eventually have a mouth that is so "soft" that he will be able to carry an egg in his mouth. In the meantime, keep the Savlon handy!