The Chronicles of Jack’s New Dog

Jack’s New Dog Bites

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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.


Meet Jack’s Dog

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Shadow has arrived and is the sweetest puppy ever.  She is a 12 week old Labrador-German Shepard cross. The first thing my children, who are friends with Jack and his sister, told me was that the puppy peed in the house twice.  This is the start of a broken record that repeats: puppies need constant supervision



 A few days before the arrival of their little bundle of joy and destruction I was talking to Jack’s Dad about pet supplies and offering to lend them some of what we have stockpiled over the years. I mentioned a crate and this seemed like a completely new idea to him. The crate, which should be considered the puppy’s safe and cozy den, is essential to protect the house until house training is complete. After this it is essential to keep the puppy safe. Puppies get into everything and everything is not always safe. I explained to Jack’s Dad that at this age, if you cannot supervise the puppy it needs to be confined. He thought about it and thankfully decided I was making a good point And a crate was waiting for Shadow.


Jack’s New Dog: Preparing for the New Baby

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Today is the day before the little arrival.  The crate is assembled.  Puppy toys are ready and Jack’s little sister’s toys are put away.  I once read a very helpful description of a day in the life of a puppy. It was in the book “Good Owners, Great Dogs by Brian Kilcommons.  I found it very helpful when I got my first puppy.  I though Jack and his family might also find it useful.  I suggested they draw a pie graph. A circle divided into 5 wedges.  Label the wedges as follows: Sleep; Wake up and pee; Eat; Bowel Movement; Play, Pee a few times. This cycle of events will repeat 4 to 6 times in a puppy’s day.  Jack’s Dad thought it sounded like having a baby again. It does and it is.

Jack’s Dog: The beginning.

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I thought it might be fun to blog about something not so veterinary.  Time will tell how fun it is but as I start such a blog I thought it might be fun to chronicle another story that is about to start.  My son’s friend is getting his first puppy.  Knowing Jack (the boy) this story will be full of adventure and mishaps. Jack’s family has been thinking of getting a dog for at least a couple of years.  Jack’s Dad has fond memories of the dog he had as a boy and wanted his son to have the same experience. I raised one puppy and ever since I have been a huge fan of adopting adult dogs.  I mentioned this several times but the cute factor won them over and a puppy it was going to be. The search is on.