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Old 01-29-2007, 07:00 PM   #1
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Default Mouthing, play biting

Is mouthing or play biting with a puppy a bad thing. I am confused by what I have read. Some say don't allow it, some say it teaches bite inhibition.

My puppy is 10 weeks old, play biting is natural to her. She does not have any litter mates to play with. Is it wrong to indulge in some rough housing with her?
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Old 01-30-2007, 04:18 PM   #2
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Mouthing is not a bad thing for a young puppy - it is essential. They do need to 'bite' people and other dogs in order to learn bite inhibition. Bite inhibition is not about learning not to bite, but rather about learning to inhibit the force of their bite.

The important thing to remember is that the puppy at this stage needs very clear feedback as to how hard a bite is too hard. Yes, rough housing is ok, but do give the pup appropriate feedback by immediately ending the game and 'yelping' (consistently) when the bite becomes too hard. You should also teach the pup that you initiate this game and will choose when to end the game. When deciding how hard is too hard think about your dog playing with a delecate young child or frail elderly person, err on the side of caution and teach them that humans are really fragile and require much more inhibition than other dogs do.

As the pup becomes older the need to chew everything should become less strong, and all mouthing of people should be discouraged by redirecting onto an appropriate toy. A nine month old dog for example shouldn't still be routinely mouthing people in my opinion.

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Old 01-30-2007, 04:21 PM   #3
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I'm not an expert, but I had this problem with Maggie so I read a lot on it. What I got in general is that play-biting with other dogs = good, while play biting with humans = bad.

Basically they learn bite inihibition by accidently hurting each other. You can simulate this by yelping and pretending to be hurt when your dog bites you and then pretending to go off and sulk. The dog learns that biting = "playtime over" and will do it less. But the best way is to find another puppy owner and arrange play dates with them. Maggie plays with the puppy next door and ever since she has stopped exerting any pressure when mouthing.

The problem with "rough housing" with your puppy is that when he grows up he'll still want to rough house only he'll be ten times more powerful and more likely to injure you or others.

I like to wrestle with Maggie a little and ocassionally I'll indulge her mouthing, but only during structured playtimes.... in other words I decide when it starts and when it stops. If she does it any other time, she gets ignored. It only takes about 5 minutes of the cold shoulder for her to calm down and start behaving again.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:18 PM   #4
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Thank you Kaos and Josh, that is helpful......
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