Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.

#151 How to Stop Puppy Biting: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP

March 20, 2024 Will Bangura, M.S., CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult Season 5 Episode 151
#151 How to Stop Puppy Biting: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
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Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
#151 How to Stop Puppy Biting: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP
Mar 20, 2024 Season 5 Episode 151
Will Bangura, M.S., CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult

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Ever found yourself puzzled by a young pup's behavior during vet visits? I certainly was when a four-month-old trainee of mine was hastily branded as aggressive. Together, we'll uncover the stark differences between fear-based reactions and genuine aggression in puppies, as I recount a story that serves as a cautionary tale for all pet owners. Misinterpretation of natural responses can lead to serious consequences, emphasizing why it's crucial to discern a puppy's genuine temperament and why veterinarians without behavior training might not always be the best source for advice in these matters. 

On the journey of raising a puppy, mouthing and biting are obstacles every pet parent encounters. This episode is packed with insights on how to navigate this tricky phase, focusing on nurturing gentle play and teaching bite inhibition without resorting to punishment. I'll share my personal strategies that have helped countless puppies and their humans coexist happily. We'll go through the importance of appropriate training tools and techniques that can transform potentially problematic behaviors into opportunities for bonding and learning. Whether you're a seasoned dog owner or new to the world of puppies, these shared experiences will equip you with the knowledge to foster a positive and safe environment for everyone involved. #151 How to Stop Puppy Biting: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP

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If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

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Send us a Text Message.

Ever found yourself puzzled by a young pup's behavior during vet visits? I certainly was when a four-month-old trainee of mine was hastily branded as aggressive. Together, we'll uncover the stark differences between fear-based reactions and genuine aggression in puppies, as I recount a story that serves as a cautionary tale for all pet owners. Misinterpretation of natural responses can lead to serious consequences, emphasizing why it's crucial to discern a puppy's genuine temperament and why veterinarians without behavior training might not always be the best source for advice in these matters. 

On the journey of raising a puppy, mouthing and biting are obstacles every pet parent encounters. This episode is packed with insights on how to navigate this tricky phase, focusing on nurturing gentle play and teaching bite inhibition without resorting to punishment. I'll share my personal strategies that have helped countless puppies and their humans coexist happily. We'll go through the importance of appropriate training tools and techniques that can transform potentially problematic behaviors into opportunities for bonding and learning. Whether you're a seasoned dog owner or new to the world of puppies, these shared experiences will equip you with the knowledge to foster a positive and safe environment for everyone involved. #151 How to Stop Puppy Biting: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Speaker 1:

Most of the time I'm working with dogs that have severe behavior problems like aggression, reactivity, fears, phobias. So it's always a treat when I get to work with a young puppy that doesn't have any of those problems. It's basically a blank slate. So imagine my surprise when I've been working with a four month old puppy and when I was working with the pet parents, they asked me what do you think about the puppy? And I said I think it's a fantastic puppy. I really like its temperament, I really like its demeanor.

Speaker 1:

It's not crazy over the top. It's also not a couch potato, because when you get a couch potato, a lot of times those dogs have fears, anxiety, stress. Those are dogs that might turn out to have a lot of fear issues and maybe fear aggression issues and on the other end, the dogs that are really hyper and just really crazy over the top. Those dogs can be a handful to try to work with. So I get a message from the client that says hey, can you give me a call? My vet is very concerned and said that my dog has aggression. What? All that will explain it. We've got a lot to unpack and more in 60 seconds.

Speaker 2:

Raised by wolves with canine DNA and his blood. Having trained more than 24,000 vets helping you and your fur babies thrive, live in studio with will bangura answering your pet behavior and training questions. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host and favorite pet behavior expert, will bangura.

Speaker 1:

Good day dog lovers. I'm Will Bangura. Hey, thanks for joining me for another episode of dog training today. Yeah, I want to talk about this client of mine that has a four month old puppy who I thought was just fantastic as far as its temperament and demeanor. I didn't see a aggressive bone in that dog's body. So I was really shocked to hear from the client that the vet has big concerns, that they took the dog into the back to try to do some work with a dog and they couldn't even barely handle the dog. The dog was horribly aggressive.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's talk about the rest of the story, because it just did not make any sense. It did not make any sense to me whatsoever until I start talking to the client and they explained to me that in the exam room the veterinarian or one of the vet staff took their hand and wrapped it around the dog's snout and held it tightly and made the dog yelp. Now you might be asking why did they do that? Well, one of the challenges, one of the problems that this puppy has, is puppy biting. Now, this is not aggressive, this is playful, this is normal behavior. This is what puppies do, especially at that age, and this is why you don't use punishment because it scared the dog, because it showed that dog that these people, the veterinarian, the vet staff they're scary, they're dangerous, they're a threat, they hurt. They hurt the puppy, Of course, the puppy. Imagine you're a puppy. You're a brand new puppy, you're four months old. Maybe this is your second visit to a veterinary office. It's scary. And rather than make the puppy feel safe and give treats and love and praise and take 30 seconds to have a positive experience with this puppy, they go straight in with punishment, cause the puppy to yelp, yeah. And so then they took the puppy away from the pet guardians, took it in the back, where now it doesn't even have the pet guardians for it to feel safe.

Speaker 1:

It doesn't surprise me at all that the dog became aggressive. The thing about this, though that aggression, that aggression was provoked. That aggression would not have happened if it wasn't provoked. And it was provoked by the vet staff by causing fear, pain and intimidation with this dog. And then they took the dog into the back, away from its pet parents, which caused more fear, and they probably still had the dog on leash. Maybe they had a couple people coming towards it, and you know when you perceive a threat, and in this case it wasn't just perception, they were real threats, cause they showed themselves to be a threat with very poor handling skills. The puppy is not aggressive, but now I've got the wife freaking out because she's concerned that the puppy's aggressive.

Speaker 1:

And you know it's tough because when you see your veterinarian and they've got that white codon, it's like they're God. Now I've got all the respect in the world for veterinarians. Listen, they've got to learn medicine for many different species. They've got one of the hardest jobs in the world and they can't talk to their patients. They can't talk to their patients. But you need to understand something.

Speaker 1:

Just because it's a veterinarian and they work with animals does not mean that they know anything, anything about behavior and training. They may know less than your next-door neighbor. Look, they don't go to school to learn animal behavior and training. They go to school to learn about medicine. They're lucky if they get a semester course on behavior and, trust me, that's not why they're there. That's not why they decided to be a veterinarian. That's not what they are interested in learning and chances are they forget all of it after they graduate.

Speaker 1:

Now there are some veterinarians that have taken it upon themselves to learn a lot about behavior and there are some great vets when it comes to behavior, but it's a crapshoot. It's the spin of the roulette wheel. I do not attempt to practice veterinary medicine because I'm not a veterinarian. And if you're a veterinarian and you are listening to this, look, if you don't have specialized training in behavior and training animals especially when we're dealing with more severe behaviors like fears, phobias, anxiety, reactivity and aggression if you don't have specialized training in that, please stop giving advice and refer your patients to somebody who's certified and qualified to deal with this. If nothing else, refer them to the veterinary behavior that you may have in your state or an adjacent state. I say adjacent state because there's so few of them.

Speaker 1:

But this is a huge problem. Look, I understand the vets have a job to do. They don't have all day to be able to positively reinforce everything that they're doing with a dog. They've got to work quickly. However, what they don't need to do is proactively do something that causes fear, pain and intimidation in an animal and then, when that animal becomes defensive, label that dog aggressive. No, that's not what's going on here, folks, not what's going on here at all.

Speaker 1:

But puppy biting can be a problem, and that's what I want to talk about. What we don't want to do. We don't want to take our hand, put it over the dog's snout. It's muzzle and squeeze that. I know a lot of people do that and maybe there are some dogs, maybe there are some puppies that worked for, but there's a risk. There's a risk and there's the potential for damage and fallout. Any time you use punishment, folks, when you use punishment, we're talking about something that's unpleasant. Shouldn't we be making these vet visits really positive? The last thing that I want to talk about is the last thing that I would think anybody would want to do would be to cause any level of fear, pain or intimidation. That just shows very poor judgment on the staff at that vet hospital, and that's why listen. If you've got dogs that have anxiety, fears, phobia, stress, reactivity, aggression, please look for a fear-free, certified veterinarian if you have one in your area. They understand how to work with these dogs and do it in a way that will really mitigate the fear, the anxiety, the stress and aggression. If they would have handled things differently, that dog would have been a joy to work with.

Speaker 1:

I spent several hours with the dog the other day. It's a wonderful puppy but it mouths and it's excitable to a certain extent. It's not over the top, but it mouths A normal behavior for dogs. They communicate with their mouths Like we communicate with our hands. We touch people. They reach out and touch all kinds of things with their mouth Normal dog behavior.

Speaker 1:

But you know, we have taken dogs and we've brought them into our world. We've brought them into our homes and even if it's a puppy and it's puppy playbiting, it can hurt, right. Those teeth can be razor sharp. They can cause punctures, cuts, tears, and it's not that the puppy wants to be aggressive. It's not that the puppy wants to hurt anybody, they're just playing. And a lot of times puppies will learn good bite inhibition when they're young, when they're in the litter, and they learn canine socialization between three and five weeks of age. But not every puppy gets what they need and sometimes we need to teach bite inhibition. We need to do everything we can to prevent as well as stop puppy biting.

Speaker 1:

Now, typically I like to call puppy biting mouthing. Yeah, I like to use the word mouthing because whenever you say biting, everybody assumes it's aggression and it's not. Oh, they can be aggressive, don't get me wrong. I'm sure that puppy did get aggressive with the vet staff and for good reason. They threatened the puppy, they hurt the puppy, they were scary, they showed the puppy that they could not be trusted. I don't blame the puppy for doing what it did. Like I said, very poor choices on the veterinary staff and I'm sure they are fantastic when it comes to physical medicine, but they need to stay away from the behavior side of things unless they know what they're talking about, and it's apparent they don't. I've said it over and over and over again when you use punishment, you are doing nothing but adding more anxiety, more stress, more fear to the problem. Animals do not go into fight or flight unless they perceive a threat. In this case there was a real threat. That was normal behavior, defensive behavior.

Speaker 1:

But we've got to address this puppy mouthing and it can be a real problem. The folks that are the pet guardians for this puppy have a nine-year-old boy and you know when you've got kids and they get nervous about petting a puppy because the puppy's doing puppy biting, puppy mouthing, or they're trying to pet or give treats and you know those little razor sharp teeth cause some pain for the kid and then maybe they start making high-pitched noises, no, and they move their hand away really fast. And you know, dogs have prey drive, and when you, sometimes, when kids are making noises and moving fast, it's like they're prey, it's like they're another dog that we want to maybe play with, either or and it can exacerbate the problem we have to ask ourselves what is happening. What is happening right before the puppy starts mouthing. Look, behaviors do not happen in a vacuum. It takes a trigger.

Speaker 1:

Now, granted, puppy mouthing, puppy biting is a normal behavior, but there is some kind of stimulus that occurs before the puppy starts mouthing and biting. Were they petting the puppy? Were they giving treats? Were they playing with a ball or a con, or were they playing with a rope toy or another toy? How excitable was the puppy? How calm or how excitable was the puppy? How calm or how excitable were the humans that were interacting with the puppy when the puppy started mouthing, when the puppy started biting? And when the puppy started mouthing and or biting, puppy biting, what did you do? Were you calm or did you get excitable? Did you move your hand away real fast, which just elicits another bite?

Speaker 1:

Typically, we've got to be extremely calm and freeze like a tree if we've got a dog or a puppy that's doing mouthing, play biting, not aggressive biting, play biting. The more excited you are, the more your energy is up, the faster your movements are, the more apt that puppy's going to be to do puppy biting, mouthing, playful biting and mouthing. So we've got to be really calm, very calm and very slow movements, and we've got to have some strategies when the puppy begins mouthing, when the puppy begins biting, play biting. What are we going to do? Well, first of all, let's get ourselves set up for training. What kind of tools and equipment do we need? Well, we need to get a comfortable, fitting harness on the puppy and we need to get a leash. We also want to have a treat pouch and we want to have a clicker If you're using clickers or markers in your training, which I think you should and in addition to that, you need to have super high value food rewards that the puppy absolutely loves, its favorite, and you need to have a couple different appropriate toys that the puppy can chew on that have different textures.

Speaker 1:

Now, one of the first things that you can begin to do is start engaging with the puppy with appropriate toys and show that puppy what it can have in its mouth. It's okay to have in its mouth and you need to be carrying around a toy or two with you because you never know when that puppy might start doing puppy biting, play biting, mouthing. And if the puppy starts play biting, if the puppy starts mouthing, I want you to think about what were you doing right before that. Did your behaviors, did your movements get the puppy overly excited? Maybe you need to calm things down a little bit.

Speaker 1:

But the first thing that we need to do if the puppy's mouthing and biting is we need to give the puppy an alternative, and your timing is critical. So as soon as the puppy wants to begin to mouther, bite, you need to pull out that toy and give it to the puppy. Now, don't have just one, have two. Puppy might let that go and start wanting to play, bite and mout you again. Well, if you got two toys now, you got a second one to give it. But swapping out trading, giving the puppy something appropriate to chew on and even before then and on a regular basis, playing with the puppy calmly with appropriate toys that it can have in its mouth.

Speaker 1:

Now, one of the ways that puppies learn good bite inhibition how hard they bite is with I mentioned it with the other puppies in the litter. If they bite the mother dog, or if they bite one of the puppies too hard, the puppy or the mother lets out a yell, yep, and that's a signal. That's a signal to the dog hey, you bit too hard. We can begin to use that same communication to help the puppy understand that they're biting too hard on us, the humans. Now the first thing that I want to do again is teach the puppy what's appropriate to have in its mouth and to make sure that I've got that available for the puppy, make sure that I've got a couple of appropriate toys on me as well, and if the puppy's going to bite in mouth, I'm going to give the puppy something appropriate to have. So those are two things One, proactively introducing the puppy to appropriate toys, playing with it, showing the puppy that, hey, this is good, you can have this in your mouth and it's fun. And then, secondly, having a couple toys with you so that when the puppy tries to mouth, when the puppy tries to play bite, you can grab that toy and give it to the puppy so that they can have an alternative in their mouth. And then the third thing we talked about was using what the mother dog does and what the other puppies do in the litter.

Speaker 1:

If one bites too hard, yelping Yep To try to teach bite inhibition. So every time, if you can't intervene with an appropriate toy and the puppy starts to really bite you, well, don't pull your hand back, don't move fast. They're just going to chase that. But let out a yip Yep and see what happens. Usually it surprises the puppy and they stop. Now they might go back into it quickly and you may have to give another yep. Patience, consistency and always timing are absolutely critical.

Speaker 1:

Now we need to talk about using positive reinforcement. We need to talk about capturing good, calm behavior and reinforcing that. If I've got a puppy that's lying down, if I've got a puppy that sits, if I got a puppy that's being calm, if I've got a puppy that's chewing on something appropriately, I want to capture that behavior as often as possible and I want to reward that, because what gets rewarded is the behaviors that the puppy's going to gravitate towards. Now what else can we do if we're doing those things and they're not working for us? Typically, when the puppies are mouthing and biting, we're playing with them, one of the things I recommend if you're struggling with this. As soon as the puppy starts to bite, as soon as the puppy starts puppy mouthing, get up and walk away. Stop the play, stop the fun, get up, walk away slowly Every time the puppy begins to mouther or do the puppy biting? I want you to stop doing what you're doing. Walk away from the puppy. Start teaching the puppy that the fun stops when it starts biting.

Speaker 1:

Now, behaviors don't go away quickly, especially when these are normal reflexes that any dog is going to do. This is programmed in their genetics to bite and use their mouths. We were asking them to stop doing something that is the most natural thing in the world for them to do. And if you use punishment, if you use techniques or tools that cause fear, pain and intimidation, you are risking real aggression, because aggression is a result of a dog that's fearful.

Speaker 1:

Aggression is the result of a dog or a puppy that feels threatened and they feel like they have to go into fight or flight. And if they can't get away, it happens a lot when they're on leash. They may be more reactive or aggressive because they can't go into flight. They don't have an option other than going into fight. Making sure that you have appropriate things for the puppy to chew on. Giving the puppy an alternative, trading my hand or my feet for an appropriate chew toy, always having those chew toys with me. And if that's failing to do my yelp and if the dog doesn't respond to the yelp then I start walking away. Play ends.

Speaker 1:

But you've got to be consistent. This behavior is not going to change in a day. It may take several weeks or a month, maybe longer. The more consistent you are, the more that your timing is good, the more that you're proactively working with this behavior. Don't just wait. Don't just wait for it to happen and be reactive.

Speaker 1:

We're literally teaching mouth manners to the dog, to the puppy. You need to spend a few minutes a couple times a day playing with the puppy and employing these strategies if the puppy goes into playbiting, into mouthing. But we need to be using positive reinforcement Punishment. You risk a lot. Look what happened in this situation. Now, does that happen in every situation? No, it doesn't, but it happens in a lot of situations. The thing that that puppy needed at the vet's office was support, was a supportive, loving, safe, trusting environment where the actions of the people around that puppy showed that puppy that it's safe, that it's positive, and that would have never happened. So today I went ahead and I wrote a very comprehensive guide on how to prevent and how to stop puppy biting. If you want to get more details about how to stop puppy biting and even how to prevent puppy biting, go to my website at dogbehavioristcom and when you go to my website, go ahead and go to the menu and look for the articles. And when you click on articles, then look for the article on puppy biting and you'll find that at dogbehavioristcom.

Speaker 1:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that music means we are just about out of time. I'm Will Bangura. You've been listening to dog training today. Do me a favor, please. If you love what we do, give us a five star review. Hit that like button. Please share this with your friends and families and also please subscribe. Hit that subscribe button so that you never miss an episode of dog training Today. Hey, and visit my website at dogbehavioristcom. If you've got a problem with your dog and you're looking for help, you can get all the help you need at dogbehavioristcom. I'm Will Bangura. Have a great week, everybody. I'm out of here.

Misunderstanding Puppy Behavior in Veterinary Care
Addressing Puppy Mouthing and Biting