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Why Do Puppies Play So Viciously?
A lot of wild puppy biting behaviors will happen if you watch a group of puppies play. The young dogs launch themselves at each other and grab whatever body part they can. Faces, noses, ears, legs, tails, even exposed genitalia are not safe from puppy milk teeth. Nature designed puppies to stop nursing at around 4 to 5 weeks of age. OUCH!
The biting behaviours in puppies do serve a purpose. The field is used for honing hunting and fighting skills. Tracking prey, attacking prey, pouncing on them. Developing hunting skills such as wrestling prey to the ground and ripping out the prey’s throat will eventually keep a wild canine alive.
In the case of our domestic companions, the need to hunt for their food doesn’t come into play as their food is provided to them by us. Dogs have a hard wired genetic drive to develop good hunting and fighting skills.
The natural drive to rip and shred and save our fingers, toes, faces and even clothing from these furry destruction machines, how do we deal with it? If you don’t convey the message to your dog in a way that he understands, he will nip, jump, and bite at you and any other human being.
Teaching Bite Inhibition is the key to surviving this drive.
What Is Bite Inhibition?
Bite Inhibition is a set of skills taught to a dog so that he can control the pressure exerted by his bite and over ride the drive to bite down on an object. We are trying to shape the dog’s understanding of what he is allowed to do with PREY. A dog with a high prey drive will chase down and kill anything that moves. They are told by their genes that this is the right thing to do.
The dogs lack the ability to hunt down and kill prey in domestic situations. The willing and unaware human being leans down with his face near the dog’s face, and with his swinging arms and appendages that stick out, perfect for grabbing. Human children are a bigger target for these highly driven dogs because they are small, built close to the ground, and make lots of high pitched noises as they run.
Unless someone intervenes, a mock attack will be launched by many dogs because children running and playing provide an irresistibletrigger that stimulates their prey drive. The sheer size of the dog, the sharpness of the teeth, and the force of the jaws can cause serious injury to humans.
Many dogs pay for this lack of training with their lives because they get bitten by humans every year. Most of the time these dogs are euthanized for doing what comes naturally to them. The dog is not at fault when this happens. The owner is usually at fault for failing to provide the necessary training for their dog.
Bite Inhibition Training Starts Early
Puppies should get their first lessons in Bite Inhibition from their mothers and siblings. As the puppies grow and start exploring their surroundings with their mouth and teeth, mother dogs can be seen to intervene. If the puppies start using their teeth while nursing, the milk wagon suddenly stands up and service is refused. As the puppies begin using their teeth to hone their hunting and fighting skills, mom can be seen clasping their muzzles in her mouth in a message that says, “Stop using your teeth in that way!”
Siblings that get bitten too hard during mock battles issue a sharp high pitched scream that serves as a natural signal for the puppy to know that the force they used to bite down with was too hard. The mothers are scruffing puppies by the nape of the neck. Puppies have a hard wired freeze reflex. The puppy is going to freeze in their tracks.
When mom has to pick up puppies to move them to safety, this is useful. Mom is expected to submit when she rubs a puppy. This signal of scruffing is used to convey the message that I want you to stop doing what you are doing now. It’s freeZE.
puppies that get the benefit of playing with litter mates also have a chance to develop a tolerance to the frustration of how to deal with stressors Whether it is competing for resources or having a sibling gnawing on your leg, these are all stressors. Dogs that have no early exposure to stressors can easily become quick to anger and if they lack Bite Inhibition skills, these dogs can be a prime candidate for becoming a problem biter later on.
How And Why Does Puppy Biting Turn Into A Problem?
Even though puppy biting and chewing is natural, you don’t have to allow him to do it on his terms. He needs to be taught not to bite humans. There are a number of reasons why people have problems with their puppies biting.
The message of NO to the puppy was not communicated in a way that the puppy could easily understand.
There is a They were inconsistent in their reinforcement of the rule of NO.
There is a They forgot to show the puppy what not to do. What do you want it to be? Instead of what he is doing.
If you want your puppy to have a complete understanding and compliance of Bite Inhibition by the time they reach the age of five months, you will want to have your puppy have adult teeth by this time. A five month old dog with adult teeth and jaw strength is not something you want. It is not necessary and it is unsafe.
Teaching Bite Inhibition To An Adult Dog
You failed to shape these behaviors when it was a puppy or you adopted a dog with no Bite Inhibition training. It is more difficult to teach Bite Inhibition to an older dog. It’s hard to convince a dog to change his ways if he has a well practiced routine. In times of high emotion, dogs will fall back into their old patterns of behavior.
As it relates to the mature dog, there are four stages to successful Bite Inhibition training.
In the first two stages the focus is on the force of the bite and in the last two stages the focus is on decreasing the bites. The mature dog has never learned how to soft his bite. He can be moved along to resist biting if he understands that there is an issue with how hard he closes his jaws.