You finally have your adorable, cuddly new puppy. You are happy to have him and he is happy to have a family. But wait – it’s just the beginning. There are 2 behaviors you need to deal with almost immediately – jumping on people and biting.
Jumping on people
This is a problem that you or others might inadvertently encourage. He is so little and cute, that little tail is wagging and, after all, isn’t socialization and getting used to people important? Of course socialization and getting used to people is crucial but allowing him to jump on people isn’t the way to do it.Imagine your cute, little puppy as a full grown 80 – 100 pound dog. Will it be so cute when he jumps on people then? No and it will be dangerous if he jumps on children or small adults because he could easily knock them down.
The best time to take care of this is, of course, when he is a puppy. When the puppy jumps up on you or someone else, gently place the puppy’s feet back on the floor. When he remains standing there, be sure to praise him extensively. Give him an alternative to jumping up. Puppies jump up on people to express their enthusiasm, so it is important to redirect this energy in a more socially acceptable direction. Try teaching the puppy to present his paw instead of jumping up. When teaching the puppy to not jump up on people, it is important to be consistent. Consistency is important in any training program, and all members of the family as well as friends must understand that the puppy is not permitted to jump on them – ever.
Biting is one of those things that every puppy seems to do, and every puppy must be taught not to do. Like many behaviors, such as jumping up on people, biting and nipping can seem cute when the puppy is small, but much less so as he gets older, larger and stronger.
Left to their own devices, most puppies learn to control their biting reflex from their mothers and from their littermates. When the puppy becomes overenthusiastic, whether when nursing or playing, the mother dog, or the other puppies, will quickly issue a correction.
Unfortunately, this type of natural correction often does not occur, since many puppies are removed from their mothers when they are still quite young. It is therefore up to you to take over this important process.
Socializing the puppy with other dogs and puppies is one of the best and most effective ways to teach the puppy the appropriate, and non appropriate way to bite, and to curb the biting response.
Many communities and pet stores sponsor puppy playtime and puppy kindergarten classes, and these classes can be great places for puppies to socialize with each other, and with other humans and animals as well. As the puppies play with each other, they will naturally bite and nip each other. When one puppy becomes too rough or bites too hard, the other puppies will quickly respond by correcting him.
The best time for this socialization of the puppy to occur is when it is still young. It is vital that every dog be properly socialized, since a poorly socialized dog, or worse, one that is not socialized at all, can become dangerous and even neurotic. Most experts recommend that puppies be socialized before they have reached the age of 12 weeks, or three months.
Another reason for socializing the puppy early is that mothers of young children may be understandably reluctant to allow their young children to play with older or larger dogs. Since socializing the dog with other people is just as important as socializing it with other dogs, it is best to do it when the puppy is still young enough to be non threatening to everyone.
It is important for the puppy to be exposed to a wide variety of different stimuli during the socialization process. The socialization process should include exposing the puppy to a wide variety of other animals, including other puppies, adult dogs, cats and other domestic animals. In addition, the puppy should be introduced to as wide a cross section of people as possible, including young children, older people, men, women and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
While socialization is very important to providing the puppy with life lessons and preventing him from biting, it is not the only method of preventing unwanted biting and mouthing. Giving the puppy appropriate things to play with and bite is another good way to control inappropriate biting. Providing a variety of chew toys, ropes and other things the puppy can chew is important to preventing boredom, keeping his teeth polished and keeping him from chewing things he should not.
As with any training, it is important to be consistent when teaching the puppy not to bite. Every member of the family, as well as close friends who may visit, should all be told that the puppy is to be discouraged from biting. If one person allows the puppy to chew on them while everyone else does not, the puppy will quickly become confused, and that can make the training process much more difficult than it has to be.