So you have your new puppy home, the cuteness is overwhelming, and you just want to cuddle and caress. But your puppy wants to play with you as he did his litter mates, and this includes using his sharp little puppy teeth.
Some people think this is fun and encourage it, allowing the puppy to gnaw their hands and fingers. Let’s think about that for a moment, because this is where problems often begin.
Within the litter that the puppy has just left, if the pup bites Mum, she will retaliate with a growl or nip or by leaving the space. In this way the puppy quickly learns that Mum is boss. Among his litter mates, the pup does play rough and uses his teeth; this is part of natural behaviour to establish ‘pecking order’ among the pack.
Now the pup is part of your family and your family is his ‘pack’. Establishing his place in the pack is natural for him, and this includes that 'mouthing' behaviour. It is essential right from the start, for you and your family to gently but firmly show the pup that he’s at the bottom of the pecking order. Unless you establish this order effectively and immediately, you may well have problems.
Puppy mouthing play if not managed, may turn to aggression and escalate into biting into flesh - then there is potential for real danger. Children must also be taught how to manage the puppy from the start, and how to tell when the puppy needs to be left alone. Small children can't read puppy body language, and during play if a child (accidentally) hurts a pup, the pup will bite and growl as they do when playing in the litter.
Prevention is key. Right from Day 1, NEVER allow the puppy to mouth your hands or your children’s ankles or hands. When the puppy attempts to put his teeth around any of your family’s skin, immediately and gently hold the puppy around the mouth (not tightly) and make a sharp deterring noise such as ‘ah’ or ‘off’ or ‘no’. You must be consistent with this training, and the puppy will learn quickly that it is not ok. Offer the puppy a distraction like a pet chew toy, or a different game. You must also be vigilant and keep personal items out of the reach of your puppy: shoes, thongs, kids’ toys, etc.
Encourage your puppy to chew on the right things when you are not home. Do this by providing plenty of chew toys and bones, or put some food in a Kong ball which makes puppy work at getting food. All this keeps your puppy busy and occupied until he is tired and needs another sleep! NEVER crate your puppy for longer than the right amount of time for their age, see our Crate Training blog of May 2018 for these important guidelines. And remember, one of the most important ongoing things you can do for your puppy to ensure boredom problems are minimised, is to give plenty of opportunity for exercise!
Finally, before we finish talking about puppies and teeth, also consider the great need to keep your puppy safe from other dogs and their big teeth! When your puppy meets other dogs, it is very important that they are CLOSELY supervised. The other dog will naturally try to establish dominance over your puppy!
If you would like to adopt a Ridgy Didge Australian Cobberdog, please read our Adopting a Puppy information, before you continue the adoption process. For more information, pm us on Facebook, or contact us at our website. Like and follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with ongoing puppy news and announcements.