Help! How Do I STOP Puppy Biting?! #17

Hey everybody. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. I am 
Susan Garrett. And today, if you own a puppy,   you're going to love this episode. But if 
you don't own a puppy, do not turn away   because there's a lot of great dog training 
understanding to be gleaned by studying puppies.   And I'm going to let you know how you might be 
part of the reason why your friend’s puppy bites.   Yeah, true story. Stick with me on this one.
Today I’m going to share with you the protocol   that I have used that has worked 
for me over the last 30 years   on helping my puppies understand that a 
biting a human is inappropriate communication.   We're going to talk about first, the 
why it is necessary for puppies to bite.   Don't be bent out of shape that your puppy bites. 
Actually, let's just take a moment and celebrate.   Raise the roof.

Your puppy is biting. 
That is an incredibly good thing. Yes,   you heard me right. It's a really, really 
good thing. Puppies need to bite to understand   how to bite. You're going to say, well, I 
don't want my dog to know how to bite.
  Yeah, here's the thing. Imagine you're out 
on a third-floor balcony and the guardrail   breaks and you're about to fall. 
What do you do? You instantly grab.   Right. You have hands that can grab. Dogs 
don't have opposable thumbs. They can't grab.   The only thing they can do to react is to use 
their mouth. That's the only thing that they have,   that they can actually grasp something with.
And so, if they're going to use a mouth at a   moment of stress, we want it to be what's called 
inhibited bite.

And so, what we want to teach them   is what we refer to as an acquired inhibited 
bite. And I'm going to share with you today,   how you can teach your puppy just that. And I will 
tell you that my knowledge of how puppies actually   shaped other puppies to bite. Go back to episode 
five on Shaped by Dog, where I talk about how   dogs actually shaped. Now they don’t, you know get 
out of clicker and think, Oh, I'm going to watch   what they're doing. Their behavior just shapes 
an alternate behavior from another puppy.
  I learned this when my Jack Russell Terrier, 
Twister back in early nineties had a puppy,   a single puppy, which is not a good thing. 
You really, really need litter mates   to help teach puppies things like bite inhibition. 
And so, I had a friend who had a litter of Border   Collies born the same day.

She let me raise one 
of her puppies with my singleton Jack Russell.   They were kind of funny seeing them in the 
wellbeing box together. By the time they were   about three or four weeks, the time puppies 
normally start playing games like bitey face,   the Border Collie was at least 
two, maybe more, almost three   times the size of the little Jack Russell.
And so, the first time this Border Collie said,   hey, let's play. And he came like, you 
know, bam! down on this Jack Russell. The   Jack Russell turned his head towards the wall 
and just curled up in this little ball. And I   thought, oh what's wrong with that Jack Russell 
puppy. I mean, they're usually game to play.
  This happened several more times over the course 
of the day. The Border Collie would come in and   body slam him. The Jack Russell would just turn 
his head against the wall and go into this little   rock and wouldn't acknowledge. The next day that 
Border Collie puppy kind of came on its belly   and reached out with one paw and touched the Jack 

And then the Jack Russell kind of reached   out with his paw and touch the Border Collie. And 
they started doing pushy paws. And before you know   it, they're playing bitey face. And within 
a day or two, the Jack Russell was beating   the crap out of the Border Collie puppy. And 
that's the way, you know, it should be. Because   according to the world of Jack Russells.
Now listen, I'm going to share with you,   if you are listening to this podcast, 
go down and click on the YouTube link.   I'm going to put some demos in this podcast of 
some of the things that I'm talking about. So,   you might want to watch this one on YouTube.
So, puppies bite to learn that it's not   appropriate to give a full on, you know, bite 
draw blood pullout flesh kind of bite every time.   They learn to inhibit the bite.

Which is super, 
super important because they're domesticated   creatures and it's inconvenient if we have to 
stitch ourselves up every time we play with   our puppies. The way we go about continuing 
the lessons that their mother taught them,   and their litter mates taught them about 
how to inhibit your bite is two things.
  There's two parts of the biting we need to look 
at. It's how often they bite us. How many times   a day we get bit and how hard they bite us. So 
those are the two things that we're going to zero   in on. In actual fact, if you keep track of the 
number of times you get bit, and you only focused   on how hard that bite is, the number of times 
you get bit would actually go down as well.
  When I had Swagger, who was also a singleton and 
didn't have litter mates, when he was a young   puppy, he would bite me upwards of 30 times a 

By using the protocol I'm going to share with   you today, it went to nothing. But I need you to 
understand puppies bite. So, if you've got small   children and you’re raising a puppy, please, 
please, please supervise anytime they're together.   It's easy for a child to get bit and they're more 
sensitive if they do get bit and you could create   fear that is unnecessary, a fear of your dog 
or puppy. We don't want that. Supervise anytime   that your puppy is out with your children. 
Follow this protocol. Eventually your kids   will be able to follow this protocol.
What we need to do first is, number one,   keep track of how many times in a day you get bit. 
And then we're going to categorize how hard those   bites were.

I categorize them by five categories, 
and this is just something that I've done so that   I can keep track of what's going on. The goal 
of what we want, where we want our dogs to be   is a place where the dog or the puppy, if they 
their mouth on human flesh, they immediately   take it off, and go about their business. They're 
not worried about it. And I call that the ‘oops,   my bad’.

So, it's immediately they touch and 
it's oops, my bad, I'm going back to what we were   doing, we were playing. I'm sorry, I didn't mean 
to touch your flesh. That's cool. There isn't any   pain associated with it. That's oops, my bad.
So, you're not going, “Oh my God! That's so   good! You got off of me! I’m so happy! Thank 
you for getting your mouth off me”. Because   that's just going to get yourself bit again. 
So calm praise. “Good. Super good choice,   buddy”. And then evaluate, do they stay, keep 
their mouth away from you when you're praising,   then you go to the next step, step four, which 
is pat. Stroke the puppy for not biting you.
  Now the level before we get to that is, 
they hit us, they don't make a mark.   It might be the pressure of their teeth 
hitting us and they might as a puppy,   you know, not be in a hurry to get off, of our 
hand or pant leg.

I consider if a puppy grabs   your clothing the same as them biting you. All 
right. So that's a good thing to keep in mind.   Level two is, I'm trying to be good. So, they will 
eventually get off on their own, but it's not,   like they might bite you once or twice and then 
go, oh yeah, yeah, we were doing something else.   That's I'm trying to be good stage.
The third level before that   is where the puppy will bite you and they leave 
the little indentations of their teeth.

You can   see the little marks on your skin. Especially 
if they’re the little needle ones. They hurt,   but if they haven't gone through, then they are 
what I call showing some awareness. That is level   three, they're showing some awareness that they 
shouldn't be clamping down. Before that you might   actually receive punctures or torn clothing. That 
is a, what I would call the puppy is oblivious   to how hard they are biting. And there's things 
that you are doing that might be contributing   to that. And I'll get to that in a second.
The level four is you're getting punctures,   they're drawing blood, or they're tearing fabric. 
Now, if you've got little sharp little needles,   it might not take much pressure for you to be 
drawing blood, especially if your owner is a   little bit older, it’s got delicate skin. Doesn't 
matter, it's still the same level. Level five is   code red. That's where the puppy might bite draw 
blood and re grip and sink their teeth in harder,   or they might give their head a shake while 
they've got a hold and they're drawing blood,   they might keep aggressing up the arm.
That is code red, and that is unusual puppy   behavior.

And that is call a veterinarian 
behaviorist. Because you very likely have a   problem. It could have you've escalated it and you 
could got to that, but that's the four levels. And   I honestly have never seen in one of my puppies 
a code red. That it's one of the first four and   you are focused on moving them down into so that 
they're all the, oops, my bad and I didn't mean to   touch you and I'm not touching you again.
Now that we have these five evaluations,   you can keep track of how many times you get bit 
and keep track of what kind of a bite was it and   we're moving so that you can see progress. You 
can see you're heading in the right direction. But   in order to head towards the right direction, 
you're going to need my protocol and you're going   to need to know what you might be doing that is 
encouraging the biting or possibly even rewarding   the biting.

And you might not even be doing it 
with your own puppy. You might be doing it with   somebody else's puppy. The first thing, and if you 
want to test out my theories on what encourages a   puppy to bite, you might want to try this one.
Go to the litter of puppies, seven, eight-week-old   puppies that are kind of running around a room 
and lay down flat on your stomach and turn   your face up so that your face is at their 
face and I promise you you're getting bit.   The honker is going to get bit, your hair is 
going to get pulled, you are going to get bit. So,   my point is where you position yourself could 
be encouraging your puppy to bite you.
  So, the lower you are in proximity to them, 
the more likely you're going to get bit.   Now that could be, there are some games that I'll 
play with my puppies and I'll get low and if I get   them into a heightened state of arousal, I have 
had a puppy turn and just nail me in the face and   actually draw blood.

Is it the puppy's fault? 
Is there something wrong with that puppy? No,   no. I needed to evaluate was that puppy's 
acquired bite inhibition far enough along   that I should have put myself in that 
position, that lower body position.
  So, number one thing that you can do to contribute 
or to deter the puppy biting is to be aware of   your body position relative to the puppy. 
Number two, and this is a pet peeve of mine,   is when you greet a puppy or other people's 
puppy, this is where you might be encouraging   your friend's puppy to bite. People greet a puppy 
by grabbing the muzzle and giving it a shake, Oh,   how cute is that little puppy! They give the 
muscle a little shake and they're encouraging   the puppy to bite at their hands.
And it's like, you're playing bitey face   with another puppy, but what you're actually 
teaching that puppy is human hands are the same   as puppy mouths. We bite, they bite us, and we 
bite them and everything’s good. Please, please,   please. Don't face wrestle with a puppy. 
I'm going to put in a little Asterix.
  I might go to face wrestle with a puppy once 
I've got them to the, oops, my bad stage,   a bite inhibition just to test how good 
that bite inhibition is.

pexels photo 4588031

But please, please,   if you see somebody grabbing a puppy's muzzle and 
giving it a little shake, like a game, no, no.   You were setting somebody up to 
get bit, not a good thing.
  Those are two things. Your body position, how 
you grab a muzzle and shake. This is a biggie.   So often when a puppy makes contact with a 
body part, the person tries to pull it away.   And your hand becomes prey. That actually could 
be what is encouraging your puppy to bite harder,   because they're going to bite and try to 
hang on because that thing's going away.
  It takes some discipline on your part and part of 
my protocol is to freeze when you’re bit. Do not   pull the body part away. And yeah. It might 
hurt, but you know what? You can be tough.   You can tough for a little bit.

Consider, are 
you viewed as prey? So sometimes walking across   the floor, shuffling your feet, wearing certain 
slippers, the puppy prey instinct might be turned   on. They’re dogs, they’re prey driven and they 
start biting at your feet. That could be part of   what's engaging the prey, not saying 
it's right or wrong, but that is   the way the puppy brain works. So, your lowered 
body position, greeting the puppy not so good,   are you moving body parts becoming prey?
Now these next ones, these are ones that   you need to be considering all the time. The 
first ones you can eliminate right off the bat,   right? I've educated you.

You know that. 
These next ones, number one is there pain?
  If you're a stroking a puppy or scratching 
them behind the ear and they bite you,   consider, is there an ear infection? 
Is there some pain somewhere? So,   don't rule out pain as a reason. For remember 
what I said, that's the only way that they have   to communicate. They're falling off that third 
story. They're grabbing something. Number two,   has that puppy been pent up, has not had mental 
stimulation or exercise or physical exercise   during that day.

Their likelihood of biting is 
going to escalate if they haven't had that outlet   for their mental and physical stimulation.
Number two. This is actually number five,   but on my list of things I really consider every 
time you're interacting with a puppy is, is that   puppy overtired. Have they been out for too 
long? Puppies need a lot of sleep. A lot of   sleep people. Is that puppy hungry? Puppy 
should be fed at least three times a day.   So, if it's been a long time between meals, 
depending on what the pub has been doing, they   could be over hungry.

Over hungry, they're more 
likely to be bitey with less bite inhibition.
  Are they overexcited? That is a really, 
really common reason people get bit.   And it's something that I do once I get my puppy 
down to the oops, my bad stage of bite inhibition,   I increase the excitement to see if they will 
bite me. Overexcitement is easy when we're playing   with our puppies and it's easy for them to bite. 
That doesn't mean don't get them excited because   remember we need them to bite you occasionally for 
them to learn that they shouldn't be biting you   at all.

Physically or mentally they're pent 
up, they haven't had enough simulation,   overtired, over hungry, overexcited or in pain. 
That's a checklist you should go through.
  Okay, now the protocol. First thing when 
I get bit, as I mentioned, I freeze. So,   if my hands are out, I just lock my elbows. I 
don't bring my hands in cause that's moving.   I just lock my elbows to my ribs, and I freeze. 
Everything is solid. I don't say anything, and I   don't do anything.

So, step one of the protocol, 
freeze, evaluate. Run through your brain the   checklist. Your body position, the dog that… has 
a puppy eaten? Are they overtired? Have they been   stimulated? Are they overexcited? Like run through 
that checklist while you're frozen there.
  So, it should take you like two seconds. While 
I'm frozen, I'm evaluating, did the puppy bite   and come off. So, if they did come off, 
I skipped step two and go to step three,   which is praise them for taking their mouth 
off of me.

If they didn't, so, this is a series   of events. I'm playing with a puppy; the puppy 
bites me, I freeze, the puppy doesn't come off   or just keeps mouthing me, and then I go to the 
vocalization, which could be just saying, “Aw!”.   Now for me, I like to yelp like a puppy and 
I'm really good at like yelping, like a puppy,   but a lot of people aren't that good at 
yelping, like a puppy. So just go ahead and say,   “Aw!”, but I do, “Ah!”, and that gets the 
puppy's attention, like w w w what was that?   I I I didn't know you were a puppy.

So, it's vocalizing. Step one is freezing.   Evaluate, is a puppy off you. If they 
are off you go right to step three,   which is praising. If they're not then yelp 
and then evaluate, did they come off you,   then praise. And when you're praising, 
you're praising in a way that's calming.
  And that stroking may cause them to bite you 
again. But that's the cycle. You're just going   to then freeze, evaluate. They come off, praise, 
evaluate, and then stroke them again. Now,   if you get through step one, two, three, four, and 
they don't put their mouth back on you, then you   go back and repeat what you were doing that caused 
the puppy to bite you in the first place.
  But Susan, I might get bit 

True story, you might.   You're going to go through this keep cycle… 
You're going to keep going through the cycle.   Puppies are curious. They use their mouth 
to investigate, and right now they might   be investigating you. That's just how it works. 
Now, what if you froze your puppy didn't get off,   you yelped your puppy didn't get off. Now you 
are in a place where you are deciding is the   puppy overtired? Are they over aroused? Are they 
hungry? If you're like, oh my gosh, the session   went on too long.

I shouldn't have, it’s my bad. I 
would then take a chew bone, put it in the puppy's   mouth, pick them up, put them in the crate, get 
them something to eat, or take them outside.
  Do what you know that puppy needs. But 
if you're like, no, I went through my   checklist and I didn't. I would vocalize a little 
louder if they bit me. Now, one really important   thing I forgot to say, I never train the puppy 
that when they're in this bitey phase, they're   always on a leash. When I train with them.
I'm going to say that again, guys,   always train your puppy either in an enclosed 
area, like your or bathroom, like really super   small. And even then, I think I would put them 
on a leash. When they're in that bitey phase,   because then they can't do the fly by bites 
and run around and bites and run around   that you can still pat them and talk to them, 
engage, engage with them. So super important.
  Okay. So, the protocol again.

I got bit, 
freeze, evaluate, vocalize if I have to,   evaluate, praise in a calm way, pat. Now, pat is 
again the Zen pat. It's not whacking them and go,   “woo! That was really good. Thank you for not 
biting me!”. You're going to get bit again.   Calm praise, calm stroking, go back and try 
what you did the first place. If you didn't get   bit that time, that's great. The puppy could be 
learning. I would do the same thing again a couple   of times and maybe the next session up add a 
little bit more excitement to the situation to see   if the puppy can make the same good choices.
If on the other hand, the puppy couldn't make   those good choices and you couldn't figure 
out why, and they're still biting at you,   then I would suggest you abort, put the puppy 
away, do something calm or the next time you   bring them out.

So, it's freeze, vocalize 
if they still are biting me, just, I would   keep vocalizing, “Aw!”. They come back and bite 
you again, “Aw!”. And then just like my little   Jack Russell puppy, I can't play with you.
Now I don't want you to say “I'm giving you a   time out now! You’ll bit me, you little Turkey!”. 
Because puppies, they're way too young. Puppies   don't deserve time outs. Right? I put the puppy 
away, give them a chew bone, put them in an X pen   only so that I can regroup and say, 
what did I do wrong in that session   and how can I be better for my puppy?
You cannot punish puppies for biting.   Guys they're learning. We need to be patient. 
We'll all get through this puppy phase and think   of all the amazing, good things that they give 
us to balance out the odd little bite on the arm.   It will get better, always working towards 
the oops, my bad stage.

And you will have   a puppy that if, no matter what, no matter 
if, you know, your granddaughter stumbles   and happens to fall on your puppy, when they're 
an adult dog, wakes them up out of a dead sleep,   they're less likely to turn and snap at 
your granddaughter, because you went through   these stages of building an inhibited bite.
Next time I'm going to go through the games I play   to help expedite the learning for the puppy. So, 
I have some games that I'm going to share with you   and also answer the question, what do I do 
when I'm playing tug with my puppy and they   redirect and grab my clothes or grab my arm?
That's happening next time on Shaped by Dog.

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