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How to teach bite inhibition

Def: Before the puppy can learn to "inhibit" biting it must first learn how to bite :)

Bite inhibition is not about trying to "stop" a puppy biting, a puppy learns most of what it needs from using it's mouth, bite inhibition is about teaching puppy *control* of biting behaviour with humans and other animals. (from Robert Loftus)

BITE INHIBITION: Biting is a normal behavior for dogs, so you have to train your dog not to bite. Puppies (under 4 1/2 months need to mouth and bite to learn not to and to have a gentle mouth Steps for a gentle mouth

1. No painful bites- simply say "ouch" - the volume depends on the dog's mental makeup. With a boisterous puppy, tone down the ouch, or leave the room and shut the door. Allow the pup just one or two minutes time out to reflect on the loss of its human playmate and then return to make up . It is important to indicate that you still love the pup; it is the painful bites which are objectionable. Instruct pup to come and sit and then resume playing once more. Ideally, the pup should have been taught not to hurt people well before it is three months old.

2. No jaw pressure at all. Even though the bites no longer hurt, when the puppy is munching away, wait for a nibble which is harder than the rest and respond as if it really hurt (even though it didn't). Ideally the puppy should no longer be exerting any pressure when mouthing by the time it is four to five months old. INHIBITING THE INCIDENCE OF MOUTHING

3. Dog always stops mouthing when requested. Once the puppy has been taught to mouth gently rather than bite, it is time to reduce the frequency of mouthing by teaching the pup that mouthing is OK until requested to stop. This is where the off and take it commands come in. Once the pup has been taught off with food the instruction may be used to stop the puppy mouthing. While the pup is mouthing gently, say off and offer a food treat. Praise the pup when it lets go to take the treat.

In addition, regular hand feeding helps preserve the pup's soft mouth and increases the pup's confidence with people around its food bowl. If ever the pup refuses to release your hand when requested, yelp OFF, rapidly extricate you hand from its mouth, leave the room and shut the door. Give the pup a couple of minutes on its own, and than go back and call the pup to come and sit to make up. But no more mouthing for at least a couple of hours.

4. Never to start mouthing unless requested- by the time your pup is five months old, it should have a mouth as soft as a 14 year old working Lab. It should never exert any pressure when mouthing and the dog should immediately stop mouthing when requested to do so by any family member. It is essential to continue bite inhibition exercises, otherwise the dog's bite will begin to drift and become harder and harder as the dog grows older. - regularly hand feed the dog and clean its teeth daily i.e., exercises which involve a human hand in the dog's mouth.

Modified from "How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks" by Dr. Ian Dunbar
Happytails Dog Training 9/97

Submitted to Dogthink by Doug Weller

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