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Carpet Sharks (Bitey Puppies!)

Do you live with a Carpet Shark?

Mouthing, nipping and biting of hands, skin, ankles and clothing is easily my number one struggle for puppy owners.
And let’s not beat around the bush here folks, they hurt! Those tiny hypodermic needle like teeth will puncture clothes, draw blood and leave a lot of scratches on your hands – not fun!

When it comes to puppies, there’s a few reasons your new fluffy family member might be chowing down on human flesh!

1. It’s how they interact!
Look at pups that play and interact with one another, they’re all mouth! That mouth is their number one tool for just about everything so it’s understandable that they’re going to use it for various behaviours. Don’t forget dogs are covered in fur, thick skin and wrinkles, unlike us fragile hairless goblins we’re just not built to resist such sharp fangery!

2. It usually gets a good reaction!
The reality for our pups is often when they bite our hands, our clothes or mouthing parts of us there’s a consequence. Whether that’s attention, a great game of chase, a game of tug or an exciting sound!

Avoid making high pitch noises or any noise at all, there’s a good chance your puppy will like the resulting sound. We humans CANNOT reproduce the noise litter-mates make to communicate to one another, regardless of how high pitch you can go!

Just looking at, talking to or acknowledging a puppy that may be tugging or biting may well teach your pup that it’s a great way to get attention whether that’s good or bad attention, it’s attention.

More often with children, biting of hands or feet results in a great game of chase as the children squeal and leg it around the living room which no puppy in their right mind is going to just sit and watch – this demands chase! Similarly a game of tug can result with biting clothes that pups absolutely love.

3. They’re not comfortable
Despite how cute your pup is, sometimes they need their own space and time. Picking up our puppies or over-handling them at the wrong times can be stressful. Our puppies will often show this dislike through biting of hands in attempt to get out this. I quite often see this around children who may get a little over-excited by pups.

So we’re now starting to understand WHY our Carpet Shark is making a meal of us, but what can we do to change this I hear you ask?

1. Set out a plan for the WHOLE household
Consistency within the whole house will make it SO much more achievable for your puppy to “get it”. If everyone is on the same page and teaching the same things, your pup is going to understand what works and what doesn’t. Nobody is exempt, and if necessary write down the rules and frame it on the wall so that it hangs over you, judging you at any moment of the day!

2. Teeth on humans, means “buh-bye!”
Your pup is still learning about family life and what works. They rely on you for almost everything, the last thing they want is to lose you. If the teeth come out, you’re gone!
Leave the room for a minute and return, this needs to be consistent and this needs to be as soon as the teeth make contact. Let puppy know you’re going with a calm “buh-bye” (Because we’re SO Brummie!) and remove yourself. I only recommend this for puppies early on who have only just begun to show this behaviour, if this behaviour has been going on for a long time get in touch and we will discuss a different option that wont cause lots of frustration.

3. What do you want instead?
Old dog training methods always want to look for the failure but don’t provide an answer for our pups. When a dog knows what to do, they do it! So let’s set our pups up for success by teaching them what we do want instead. Calmly stroke your pup with one hand, making sure to scratch all the right spots! If your puppy sits or lies down, they get a second hand to administer all the best tickles. Now your pup is learning that calmness gets attention, calmness pays! Teeth come out? “buh-bye!”

Similarly if you’re wanting to play with your pup without coming out the other end looking like a pin cushion make sure all play is done with toys. If the teeth miss or pup chooses you instead of the toy – game over! Starting play with a word and finishing with another lets puppy know when to play and when to rest. I like to finish play sessions with a small scatter feed of treats or a stuffed kong/chew.

4. I can’t juggle the pup, the kids and making a cuppa at the same time.
Don’t despair, this is where chews, Kongs and scatter feeding comes to save the day. If you need pup out the way whilst you’re getting kids ready for school, getting ready for work or any activity that just isn’t puppy friendly then slow feeding activities will make life much easier. Build this into a routine and you’ll have a puppy that WAITS for their awesome chew when they see the usual precursors!

Get in touch to discuss your puppy biting habits and struggles and just remember consistency is key!

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