Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
magical Merlin

Bite inhabition - the most important thing you can teach your dog

Recommended Posts

I've seen alot of posts about how to stop pups biting and so i wanted to add a post that should help some people and explain why it is so important that your pup learns how hard it can bite a human.

Lots of people dont want their dogs teeth to make contact with thier skin ever, however this is not helping your dog. Dogs must learn to use teeth properly as part of their development. By helping dogs learn bite inhibition early on, you can help avoid bite incidents involving other dogs as well as people.

Dogs normally learn bite inhibition by 4 and a half months of age. I honestly think this is one of the most important thing that dogs learn.

Bite inhibition is a learned response in which the dog consciously inhibits the full force of his bite. Most dogs display bite inhibition when they are playing together, and even when engaging in a fight with another dog. If a dog does not have bite inhibition, he could injure and possibly even kill another dog.

Alot of dog fights are noise and spit because a dog knows how hard to bite to inflict pain but not cause damage. While some dogs will fight and cause injuries a well balanced dog usually will not. For people that have packs of dogs you will know that from time to time they will have a scrap. Because these dogs are constantly playing and have a good gage of pressure there are seldom any injuries from a scrap.

Puppies who are properly socialized learn bite inhibition while nursing and playing with their mum and litter mates. When pups bite while nursing, the bitch will train them by standing up and walking away or growling. When pups bite too hard during play with siblings, the bitten pup will yelp or scream and stop playing with the rough pup. This teaches a puppy that playtime ends if he bites too hard and dogs that learn this as pups will be able to play with dogs of all ages as they grow.

This is one reason puppies should go to puppy socialization class, where they can play and mouth while carefully supervised. They will learn that while gentle bites might be tolerated, hard bites will stop the play session and in some cases get them told off by older dogs. Dogs need to socalize with other dogs through out their lives in order to practice bite inhabition. It must not stop once the pup becomes an adult.

You can use the same methods as dogs to teach your pups bite inhibition.

Below are a few methods to teach bite inhabition and my oppinions on them.

1. Sit down with the pup to play, bringing his attention to your hands. When the pup tries to bite your hand too hard, yelp or say 'Oww' firmly and stop playing. - I have not found this sucessful myself and find that the sound normally encourages more biting in older pups. Pups of about 6-8 weeks do however respond quite well. It is important to walk away from the pup if the sound has broken its bite so it learns that it gets no more play.

2. Give the pup a toy to chew on intead of your hands or clothing. If he does not take the toy and instead nips again, stop interacting. Turn away, cross your arms, do not look back or walk away. I find this works very well with pups and even adult dogs. Dogs learn by responce so a bite = no more fun. After a few minuets go back to the pup and start playing again. If he tries to bite repeat the process.

3. Tapping the nose. Personnaly i hate this. Tapping the nose does nothing. It will only encourage the dog to nip when you are not in a position to correct it and can lead to dogs becoming hand shy in later life. It also does not teach bite inhabition. The aim of bite inhabition is to gage the pressure not stop the behaviour straight away.

4. Grabing the lower jaw and shaking while saying no. The pup is unable to bite you as all its power is in the lower jaw. This does work, but i feel it should be a last result. It is not teaching your dog bite inhabition it is teaching it not to bite so while it wont bite you, you are not teaching it that important lesson of how much pressure is safe.

When your pup is gentle, pet and praise him calmly and resume play. It is important games finish on your terms but the pup should always be rewarded if he is playing nicley. As you practice, the pup will use less and less pressure as he comes in contact with your hand.You can deside how much pressure is acceptable for you eg just touching with teeth. Anything harder than that gets an "owww!" or a no and the game ends.

It is important to remember that the first aim is to teach the dog to actively inhibit the force of his bite so that it is gentle, and THEN reduce the frequency. If you never let the pup put his jaws on you at all, when it does happen (say, an accident during which the dog's paw gets stepped on or at the vet when the dog is under stress), the dog will probably react with a hard bite resulting in injures.

Its important not to encourage nipping or mouthing so do not tease a pup or dog by flashing hands around his face or tapping his face trying to get a responce. Afterall we dont want the pup to bite we want to teach it what is acceptable biting when it happens

It really dosn't matter how hard you try to socialize a dog to people or other dogs, there may be times when it wont help. It is important to socalize but this wont solve everything for you. E.G, someone shuts the dog's tail in a door, or your dog is attacked by another dog. In these cases, your dog will instinctively respond by biting, whether it's out of provocation or self-defense. Whether or not your dog does damage depends on the level of bite inhibition that was established, usually before he reached age four and a half months.You can teach inhabition in older dogs, but is much harder and most people will need professional help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent, excellent post. Added to rep. This is probably one of the most misunderstood issues with pups. We know we don't want them to bite, we know it can hurt, but how do we deal with and more importantly, how do we teach our pup not to bite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent post, I ran a puppy playgroup for over 10 years and this is the method we always taught, too many people teach a puppy not to bite 'them' whereas bite inhibition taught properly stops the older pup and then the adult biting anyone :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

excellent thread - added to rep :up:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have pinned this topic so it doesnt get burried, think this is invaluable to all :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope you dont mind Merlin but I want to add something to your work. :)

Often if you are playing with a puppy he doesnt grab body parts because he wants to hurt

you. Watch your dog play with other dogs and you will see that being grabby with their

mouth is a common form of play between dogs.

If your puppy is older than 6 months and still has not learned bite inhibition and doesnt have

a healthy respect for your hands there are three ways to teach them.

Most professionals who have been around awhile teach a snippy dog who gets way to excited

to take things gently by using a spoon with a treat on it. They say this helps teach the dog the

power behind their jaws. I havent had to do this before, but I hear that it works well with dogs

if done properly.

If you have a big puppy like chewy or achilles who are 50 pounds at 5 months, you will want to

tackle bite inhibition quickly and ensure that they will back off quickly if they get grabby with you,

even by accident. Recently Achilles got grabby with a friend of mine, andthen later with me, even

though he does know better, and chewy used to be grabby when bringing a ball back during fetch.

I taught them both very quickly to respect my hands and back off by one excercise done only 2 or3

times on each dog.

When your dog grabs hold of your hands or grabs clothes or arms, they not only have to realize that

they shouldnt use the full force of their mouth, but that they should release their grip completely and

back off. When achilles recently grabbed my hand with his mouth all I did was gently take hold of the

bottom of his jaw. I placed all four fingers flat across his tongue, and applied subtle pressure with my

thumb to the bottom of his chin. You do not need to hurt your dog or hold on for more than a few

seconds. Dogs do not like to have fingers layed across their tongue, and the light pressure on the

bottom of the chin will make them automatically lift their head, turn their head and they will want to

back away because you have surpprised them by getting "grabby" right back. You do not want to grab

the top of the jaw, because pressure on the top inside of the mouth only makes them want to close their

mouth and that could be dangerous.

The third way is to start early teaching them that if they are not sitting or laying down and relaxed, you

wont offer them anything. They have to learn that they have to respect your hands because everything

you give them...you use your hands to give it to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good topic, I had never heard of bite inhibition during play, and I have a question.

Dakota likes to mouth our arms during really wound-up play (when we're down on the ground with him, rough-housing with him). He puts his jaws around my arm and just barely applies pressure, I guess like a labrador might carry a bird, then lets go and pounces around. What he does is not painful or snappy, and when we want him to stop, we say, "No bite," and we stop playing until he plays without mouthing. He also very gently mouths his toys rather than bite into them; he has these small, soft, rubber squeaky soccer balls that he carries and mouths gently as if they were fragile as eggs. That's how he mouths us.

Given what I'm reading above, is his gentle mouthing during play acceptable, or should we make him stop altogether? It doesn't bother us, we take it as all part of the fun, but I want to make sure that it's not something bad that could lead to something else. I guess I should point out that he's not a pup, he's amost 2.

Thanks for any advice!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hi Cathy,

It depends what you want. I am happy for my guys to mouth me as long as it is soft when we are playing, however my house mate isnt so they know not to mouth her. I feel it is important to practice inhabition throughout life so if they are ever in a bite situation they have a pressure gage. I dont think mouthing leads to biting. That used to be the theroy and its possbe a dog that mouths its owners will be more likely to mouth other people but they do learn to stop.

It sounds like Dakota has great inhabition! well done

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zoya was a biter when she was a pup. At the breeder's kennel where we picked her up, her and her brother were playing and they'd bite each other until one of them squealed, then they would momentarily back off. But when we brought Zoya home, she continued, only on us. We squealed, she backed off. We ignored, she sulked. But it took some time. She finally quit biting. To this day, however, Zoya does mouth our hands, most often when we come home - sort of a greeting or handshake. We call it the Husky Handshake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To this day, however, Zoya does mouth our hands, most often when we come home - sort of a greeting or handshake. We call it the Husky Handshake.

Kaiser does this as well, other than this my two seem to have grown out of it now

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a biter, i'm currently trying the "owwww" which works if he's calm, if he's excited he bites harder and doesn't listen at all, so i'm trying the toy and a few mins time out if that doesn't work,

Its the only challenging thing we have with him at the minute. Having young kids i don't really want him biting but i need to teach him bite inhibition incase one of them falls/stands on him or something when he's older and he reacts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tricky one Rob. Its a good idea to teach it like you say, but you can incorperate no biting - so every time your pup puts his mouth/teeth on you, you make the OWWWW very loud so it supprises him then walk away. Stop playing stop eye contact stop everything. Make sure you close a door so he cant get to you and leave him for a minuet. Then go back in the room and continue what you are doing. He'll learn that teeth on skin means the end of fun. (hopefully)

I will add that this is ok in theroy but in practice its much harder. My rotti is 10 months old and has a very powerful bite on her. Im currently having to try other training techniques as normal ones havent worked, so if this doesnt work for everyone dont feel bad, some dogs just need different methods of training.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Milla's favorite game is somersaulting into my lap for a belly scratch and mouthing goes right along with it. We've been working on "gentle" and giving her a toy to chew while I'm playing with her. Our puppy trainer said not to allow any biting play or mouthing, but my husband says gentle mouthing is okay as long as she stops drawing blood. Should I be allowing gentle mouthing along with the playing or insisting she keep her mouth off me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hmm am kinda on the fence with that one Lessa - Kaiser uses his mouth but very gently when he's playing however only on me or hubby however i wouldn't want him doing it on the kids - it's gentle

They need to know the difference between gentle and hard - and when you say no - it means no

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its up to you and how you want your dog to behave. If you don't want to play the mouthing game then she is never allowed to put her mouth on you. Personnaly I don't mind it in my own dogs as long as they use their soft mouth and no-little pressure is applied. I allow it because I want them to understand how much pressure a human can take on its skin.

If she does hurt you what ever your doing with her needs to stop there and then, you get up and walk away making sure to bang the door on the way out. Go back in a few mins later as if nothing had happened. Every tme she applies too much pressure you have to end the game and walk away from her. Its important that your husband does it too or she wont learn.

A shared toy is always good for her to get her teeth into rather than you :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very good post. To kinda sum it up, you're saying that the first step is to control bite strength, and then work on bite frequency? I find that using the yelp or "Ouch!" technique excites my puppy more than anything. Today, for the first time, I allowed my pup to bite me gently and she was far calmer and easier to work with. In this calm state, it was easier to put a toy in her mouth than when she goes crazy.

I found this strategy in Dr. Ian Dunbar's book "Doctor Dunbar's Good Little Dog book". He says that the first step is inhibiting the force of bites and that the second step is inhibiting the force of mouthing.

I want to know, is it more risky to use this technique in the longrun? By allowing some biting, are you not taking a greater chance than if you completely discourage the behavior from the start? Or maybe it's not realistic to prevent all biting?

This is really good to know, I've been going crazy trying to keep my Lucy from biting when really she needs to learn that she can bite me as long as it is lightly.

Did I interpret that right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what we ended up doing, Mael. She was very gentle and it helped a great deal when she was teething that I could put my fingers in her mouth and help wiggle a couple of her teeth that were impacted. Then my son taught her the "glove game", basically she can bite and tug on the gloved hand as hard as she wants as much as she wants. angry.gif So we're working on unlearning the glove game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last couple of days Flash has been nipping at me and has made contact with my hands every time pretty much - he hasn't hurt me and he clearly knows how hard to bite but it is getting annoying. I have been holding his muzzle shut and saying NO when

he does it but only when he isn't jumping around as I can't catch him then. His general reaction is either to lay still or paw at me and then jump up and bark at me! which is kinda cute...

I am not really sure why he is being so nippy recently but it is annoying...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.