chewing/teething issues

Posted by Rhondelle
Feb 27, 2008
My 4 month old shepherd mix puppy loves to chew on our hands and clothes. I put a chew toy in her mouth and she drops it and goes for my hand again. I have tried yelping and just about every other conventional suggestion. We are trying to apply the alpha dog techniques - (we are still learning, too). She seems fixated on our hands. The only thing that gets her attention so far is a squirt of water or shaking a can with coins in it. Those are not always readily available when she decodes to attach herself to us and I want her to respond to a simple verbal command. Can anyone help me with this?
Posted by Blue
Feb 28, 2008
Hi Rhondelle,
Chewing and mouthing is a natural puppy problem! But it can be resolved with perseverance and consistency!

I think it is very important that she is not encouraged to nip or bite at any time. Whether this be with you or people come to visit. Often people think it is cute when a puppy nips and so laugh and play. This makes the puppy think it is a game and makes it very hard to correct the problem. All people coming to the house should be told that things like nipping, jumping etc are not acceptable and told how they can tell the puppy off.

I know this can be very frustrating but don't ever push or smack her for misbehaving. This creates a whole other problem. What you have been doing sounds great and the use of the chew toy to teach her what is good to chew
is a great idea. So i think you are definitely on the right track but I will try and help you with some other pointers.

There are several techniques that can be used to put a stop to biting, nipping and mouthing. Some of the best ones are outlined in the section "Biting and Nipping" in SitStayFetch. However if you have limited success with these techniques then a more forceful method may be required.

You have to let your puppy know that its biting is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by demonstrating yourself as the alpha dog by growling menacingly, the way an alpha dog would, if the pup isn't a timid pup, you can also add direct eye contact to this reprimand.

*Sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If the puppy bites, you can use a command like "OFF!" or similar, and when she doesn't release, growl sharply or say "AAHH" rather then "NO". Do not yell. Your growl or "AAHH" should be quite guttural (even if this gives you a sore throat!).

*Hold out your hand again, and if your puppy goes to bite it again, do the same procedure again, but stand up suddenly at the same time. Walk away for a few minutes.

*Then come back and sit down to play again, hold out your hand once more. If the puppy goes to bite for a third time be ready for it and give the puppy a little tap on the nose and growl once more (tap hard enough for the puppy to actually feel it) with the hand you are holding out.

Hold out your hand again, and by then your puppy should be wary of your hand (be aware that the hand biting behavior is probably a habit by now).

Continue with the chew toy but try and make it more attractive. You could put some food in it (or sugarless peanut butter on it) or get him a new toy to help him be more attracted to chewing the toy rather then your arm!

Be careful with young children practicing this kind of behavior modification. A child's first reaction to being bitten is to push the puppy away with their hands. Your puppy is likely to interpret that action as being play, which in turn causes the puppy to nip more.

Best of luck and if you have any more questions, feel free to post them!