A puppy with a biting problem

Most puppies are mouthy but they rarely bite to draw blood.

Most puppies are mouthy but they rarely bite to draw blood.

I’ve been working with a very sad case of a puppy who bites when frustrated. Ordinarily, that isn’t that unusual as all puppies need to learn (and therefore be taught) to tolerate frustration. They need to learn patience and self control much like people need to learn those skills. They are the foundation of what we consider “manners.” When young puppies are very frustrated, it is normal for them to bite. However, all puppies who are healthy and have been raised with their mama and littermates have a natural respect for those in charge. And they all learn something called “bite inhibition.” They learn to hold back from biting full strength, and to use a bite only as a last resort. Their mama teaches them by her reactions when they do bite too hard or too quickly – she swiftly puts them in their place, usually by a nip of her own and a hard growl. And as puppies play together they learn that a hard bite stops play and that a soft bite lets it continue. Through these daily interactions all puppies raised well learn this important social skill.

Puppies learning how to inhibit their bite so that play can continue.

Puppies learning how to inhibit their bite so that play can continue.

Not this little puppy. At 2 months of age this puppy would bite hard enough to draw blood, whenever it was even a bit frustrated. By the time I saw him at 4 months of age, he was confident in his ability to boss people around and bit frequently and with very little provocation. He bit me three times before I even knew what had happened, and that isn’t a common occurrence for me! What is so sad is that this sort of behavior in a puppy so young is highly unusual – to the point of being considered abnormal. It suggests that something has gone very wrong in this puppy’s neurological development or upbringing. I suspect that a large piece of the puzzle is that this particular puppy, even though he is registered with the American Kennel Club, was purchased at a pet store. It is likely that he wasn’t a product of one of the notorious puppy mills, but he could have been. It is more likely that he was taken from his mama and littermates far too young – I’d guess at about 3 or 4 weeks. And his mama is likely mentally unstable herself. It is such a sad story. The family who owns him loves him dearly but the pup has bitten everyone, and there are young children who live in the home. It is my strong opinion that this dog should be rehomed, if there is a home who could work with him. But I strongly suspect that this pup will likely have to be euthanized.

puppies learn how to playSo, please, I cannot stress this enough, please do not purchase puppies from pet stores. Adopt a homeless puppy from a shelter or a foster home (H.E.L.P. is a great resource!). If you must, use a reputable breeder. Make sure they insist on keeping their puppies until they are at least 8 weeks of age. Make sure they keep them in such a way so that they have frequent contact with their mama. And make sure that they are willing to (and interested in) making any problems like this one, right.

Koda update and story

A note on Koda (another of Chole‘s group)…

Koda likes the snow

Koda likes the snow

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for the update RJ! We are so glad she’s doing well! It is nice to hear from you!

Koda is doing fine. He absolutely loves the snow!! The first little bit of snow we had, it took him 5 minutes to leave the deck he was so busy trying to lick it all up. He is amazed by it (endless ice cubes!). He loves to run after and catch snowballs. He just really enjoys the cold weather!

We are still having a problem with him playing a little too rough at times. I had an issue I had to deal with at my son’s school. Koda jumped up for a toy and his tooth caught Matt’s elbow. Innocently, Matt went to the school nurse to get a band-aid and proceeded to get interrogated about “the dog bite”. The school nurse apologized but by state law she had to report this to Will Co. Needless to say…I was very upset! I had to bring Koda in to his vet to be examined for rabies, even though he had his shots. Thankfully, he did not have to be quarantined! I am afraid though that he now has “a record” and we have to be very careful that he doesnt even play bite anyone.
So, advice to everyone……..do not tell your school nurse you were bit by your dog!

Other than that…he is just having fun being a big puppy!! We are still working on perfecting some manners and listening skills but for the most part he is doing great! I hope to be able to get him to play with his siblings again sometime soon.

January 25, 2010 • Tags: , , • Posted in: Chloe, story update • No Comments

Puppy update on William

A note from puppy William‘s (formerly Sweet William) new family…

WilliamHi Kristin,
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. It’s been a crazy week, and William has been the least of the chaos! He is a super puppy. The only problem is he has his days and nights mixed up–he sleeps all day, then we’re up most of the night. I’m hoping to get him turned around starting tomorrow.

Any advice you can give on biting, I’d appreciate it. William loves the boys so much, that he just bites the heck out of them. They aren’t able to enjoy him yet like they want to.

Good to hear from you. No wonder he was always so sleepy when people were coming over! I wonder if any other puppies are that way – that would make sense, he and someone else staying up all night playing and lounging around sleeping all day…

About the biting. Biting is very normal puppy behavior. He needs to be trained not to bite humans or our clothing EVER. So, every single time he bites you tell him sharply “no BITE”. A (more…)