Shadow is settling in well and Jack’s family seems to be adapting to life with a puppy. The current issue is biting.  Shadow was taught how to play by her dog family.  She now needs to learn how to play with her human family.

Watch puppies play. They chase, bite and paw each other. Mouths, teeth, feet and nails are what they use to play. If play becomes too rough the hurt litter mate usually runs away or squeals and this ends the game. This vocalization and cessation of socialization is how puppies learn acceptable play behaviour. If they are too rough they hear about it or they find themselves alone.

One day a pup’s family changes from dogs to people.  The pup only knows how to play with dogs. Biting and pawing are no longer acceptable and the pup needs to learn a new way to play. 

Jack’s family has to teach Shadow how to play with them. Shadow should never be allowed to bite or nibble on any part of her human family (including clothing). If she does, whoever she is with should immediately stop interacting with her. Just walk away. Shadow has to learn that play stops if she is too rough. Jack’s family can also make a puppy-like shriek or a growl to let Shadow know that what she is doing hurts. Shadow must learn that biting and pawing are not acceptable when playing with people.

Jack’s family not only has to teach her what is no longer acceptable but also teach her new games and forms of play that are appropriate. Games like fetch, hide and seek, gentle tug games and training can be her new way to play.

Physical punishment, such as slapping or holding the pup’s mouth shut are definitely not recommended. Puppies often misinterpret this as rough play on the person’s part. They play even rougher and the activity escalates. Punishment can create a fearful, anxious puppy. Grabbing a playful pups mouth can also be dangerous, especially for children. Punishment should be avoided.

Below is a link to an excellent article on play biting behaviour in puppies. I will be forwarding it to Jack’s family.


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