Handle Puppy Biting
Hello & Woof,
We are so excited for you to try out the FluffKit solution for mouthing. Canine Behaviourists have helped us curate this kit keeping in mind a dog’s average growth milestones and what she goes through, what that curious mouth and teeth are looking for to relieve the irritation of teething.
This FluffKit comes with the following tools :
Neem Oil : This organic, cold-pressed, safe neem oil will help you keep your furniture and valuables safe.
Yakie : The people of the Himalayan states in India chew on churpees as they go up and down the mountains all day. The Yakie is the churpee for doggies — made out of hardened yak milk, it’s packed with calcium. Most importantly, it can withstand the furious gnawing of a teething puppy and keep your pooch engaged.
Bone : Every dog needs a bone. And this one comes with dehydrated meat around it, promising to keep your pup engaged. It keeps puppies and adult doggies occupied for a long time.
Tasty Treats : These will come in handy while training your pup and will be useful while using our DIY toys for mental stimulation.
Long Tug : Dogs enjoy a good game of tug, and our long, elastic tug toy will help you engage in a good game of tug while keeping those razor-sharp teeth away from your hands.
Puppy or baby shark?
You are wondering why your puppy is biting so much, let’s understand why. When puppies are about 6 weeks, all the baby teeth come in and the mom starts weaning them. These are tiny razor-sharp teeth that make feeding painful for her, and she starts leaving them alone for longer periods of time.
You know these teeth: They gnaw on the corners of furniture and wooden doors, nibble away at expensive leather shoes and sink into your palms. They draw blood as easily as knives. Between 12 to 16 weeks, these begin to fall off as adult teeth grow in their place. The teething process is both irritating and painful for the puppy; and for us pet parents too. You’ll notice short bursts of bitey-ness, a need to use the molars at the back of the mouth to gnaw tenaciously. This goes on till the puppy is about 6 to 7 months old when all 42 adult teeth come in.
Puppies do this to soothe the irritation and pain. Their mouths are also like human hands; they use them to interact and play. Let’s not forget that teething brings irritation to the gums, and it is a natural process. The puppy can’t help it. So direct this towards different tastes and textures provided by natural substitutes. Sterile, tasteless, textureless, odorless plastic and silicone toys just won’t cut it. FluffKit contains items that mimic the texture and taste a teething puppy is naturally drawn to—cloth, wood, leather, rubber, and corners.
There are two things to protect during the teething phase—your belongings and yourself. We’ll be safeguarding you on both fronts with this kit.
Setting boundaries & rules
A hard rule of pet parenting is that doggie teeth are not allowed on human skin. Here too, if you correct the doggie at the first instance—when he or she chomps down on your hand or fingers,he or she will learn faster.
Avoid using your hands while playing and instead redirect your pup’s interest into the toys provided. What might seem ‘cute’ at this stage will turn into a habit, and in no time, you’ll have a grown-up dog with fully grown adult teeth thinking that it is okay to bite while playing. While playing, if the pup’s teeth scratch your hand or ankle, give out a dramatic and loud, ‘Ouch’ and get up and go away. Do not engage with the puppy for the next 30 minutes. Quickly, the puppy learns that if I bite mama-papa, the game stops and I don’t get affection either. If your puppy has already taken your hand into his or her mouth, pulling it out will wound you. Instead, gently push it further in to make him or her uncomfortable. You can tickle the roof of the mouth or wiggle fingers down the throat. He or she’ll swiftly let your hand go. Now leave the room and go away, or sit on the sofa with your arms crossed, palms in the armpit so that he or she can’t get to the fingers. This will have to be done consistently and repeatedly every time it happens.
Simultaneously, you will have to stop all rough play. A dog uses his mouth as a fifth paw. Any jostling, wrestling will confuse the puppy—why is it okay to be rowdy at some times and not at others? We will also tackle the problem from another angle: Make the hands and the feet unpalatable. You can do this by rubbing lemon juice, neem oil. The fragrance and the taste will ward the dog off.
It is again important to remember that your pup is not doing this on purpose and is still learning while also going through a really irritating phase. Do not use harsh punishments like holding their jaws shut, smacking them on the nose, spraying them with water, etc. This has a possibility of causing future behavioral issues and affecting the bond you share with your pup.
Playing tug of war with your dog helps you bond with your pet, hone their natural instincts, is a great training tool and also an excellent source of exercise.
Like any physical activity done with your dog, you should understand basic dos and don’ts to ensure you and your pup’s safety.
Here’s what to remember :
Be gentle : You should always use tug toys with caution in mind – don’t wildly swing the tug around when your dog has locked its teeth onto it. Never pull harder than your dog is pulling.
Back and Forth : The movement of the tug should always be back and forth or up and down but never side to side.
Safe environment : Be aware of your surroundings before you start playing. Make sure there is plenty of space so you or your dog don’t bump into anything. Wood or tile floors can be slippery and during a vigorous game of tug, accidents can happen, so you might want to play outdoors or on carpet.
Who wins? : Winning is when one of you gets to keep the toy and the game ends. Based on your dog’s personality, this matters! If you have a shy, under-confident dog, let them win. This will help boost their confidence. But if you have an already confident dog, then you win the game.
Puppy Growling : All play stops if your pup growls. You win the game and keep the toy with you for a short break, only to resume once your pup has calmed down.
Rules : Set up a few ground rules and adhere to them while playing tug. Rules like no teeth on the hand, no jumping in excitement should be followed at all times and if not followed, the game ends with you winning.
If not corrected in this phase, a pup will grow up thinking it’s okay to bite down on the furniture or shred things without seeking permission. Within the first week of bringing her home, puppy-proof your home. Prevention is better than cure. Put away the dustbin, expensive shoes and bags, and rub down the furniture and wooden doors with neem oil. To do so, simply dab a cotton ball in some neem oil( a few drops will do) and rub it on your furniture. If the puppy goes ‘eww’ on the first chomp of a table leg, she will learn faster to stay away from it.
But let’s not forget that teething brings irritation to the gums, and it is a natural process. The puppy can’t help it. So direct this towards different tastes and textures provided by natural substitutes. Sterile, tasteless, textureless, odorless plastic and silicone toys just won’t cut it. Your FluffKit contains items that mimic the texture and the taste a teething puppy is naturally drawn to—cloth, wood, leather, rubber, and corners. Keep all the teething arsenal in a drawer; the puppy should not have access to it all the time. Scarcity brings novelty. When you see the puppy going for a shoe, run in the other direction to the toy drawer and bring out something similar, say a Yakie. Call your puppy towards you (it will become a game if you chase him/her, and s/he’ll get better at avoiding you). Throw the Yakie or the rope toy in another direction. Wait for the puppy to go get that before picking up the shoe.
Young puppies will like the rope toy, bottle-toy, milk chewies, and T-shirt toys more. They will grow into harder substances such as the Yakie and the bone. A bone is very high-value food, and some dogs may guard it. This is natural canine behavior. Leave your dog alone when s/he is with the bone. Pick it up only after luring the dog into another room. If the doggie pauses when you approach, tucks the bone under their chin, or starts gnawing furiously, please leave him/her alone. Any attempts to snatch or take the bone away will only make him more protective of it.
This is an ingenious toy that uses household items. You’ll need:
- A small 200 ml plastic pet bottle (the kind that carries soft drinks)
- An old thick sock
- A handful of pulses (chole, rajma, urad dal, etc.)
Put the pulses into the bottle and close the lid tightly. Now put the bottle in the sock and knot up the open end. Congratulations! You have just made a toy that has sound (the pulses), texture (the plastic and the sock), smell (gym/PT socks are the best), and taste (again, the sock!). Rattle it about and throw it for your puppy. You can even use it to play fetch. As the puppy grows, you can progress to 500 ml bottles.
A change in the shape of the bottle, or type of dal, or type of sock transforms the toy into something new!
For this toy, you’ll need:
- An old cotton T-shirt. The older the better, say the one you sleep or work out in.
- Tasty treats.
- Get out an old cotton T-shirt. Cut it from the bottom up into three strips. Stop just below the neckline.
- Braid it all the way down and end with a knot. Tie up the sleeves together to have a knot at the top.
You have just made a very versatile toy. Now hide tiny bits of cheese or any treats within the folds. The challenge is to nose out these bits and extract them. Throw the braid into the wash once done. And if you replace the T-shirt with a dupatta, jeans or any other cloth, it changes the texture and length, and becomes a new toy.
You can play tug with it, hide it and ask the puppy to seek, or let the pupper shred it. You can always make a new one!
Malai Coconut: This is the ace up our sleeve. Get a tender coconut with thick malai. Drink up the water or use it in one of the doggie treat recipes. Do not scoop the flesh out. Instead, ask the coconut-wallah to make the opening large enough for a snout.
Your puppy will be busy for a good 20 minutes scraping the coconut flesh out, and might give you some bonus time alone by shredding the outsides as well.
Tips and Tricks
Make sure your puppy is getting ample sleep. Puppies typically need 16-20 hours of sleep everyday and can get irritated leading to more biting if they don’t get enough rest.
Puppies often mouth on people’s hands when stroked, patted and scratched (unless they’re sleepy or distracted). If your puppy gets all riled up when you pet him, distract him by feeding him small treats from your other hand. This will help your puppy get used to being touched without mouthing.
Remember that yak chewies and the dehydrated bones are of very high value for your puppy. Never try to snatch or take them away while your puppy is biting on them. This would lead to problems like resource guarding. Whenever you think your puppy has had enough, call them to a different room, treat them for it and then take the chewies away.
If you have a puppy below 3 months of age or if they find the yak chewie hard to bite on, soak the yak chewie in warm water for about 5 minutes, this will make them much softer to chew on.
Lastly, always supervise your puppy when with a chewie. Give them their own space and monitor from a distance. Make sure they don’t try to gobble it all up in a go or that they aren’t chewing on them in a hurried manner.
Q] My puppy gets too excited and redirecting to other toys does not work for us.
Puppies with high energy need good mental stimulation to expend all the built-up energy. Training, a good walk and the mental enrichment options we explored in our DIY toys work great here. Make sure you are following basic obedience training, teaching them new tricks, and providing good sources of mental stimulation on a daily basis.
Q] While trying to play, my puppy goes for my jeans instead of the toys.
Let’s match this drive with our tug toy by engaging in a good game of tug or using the snuffle toy we explored in our DIY toys segment. By matching the textures, you’ll present the puppy with an appropriate source. If still the puppy continues to bite on your jeans, stop all play and don’t give them any attention at all. Repeat this every time and the puppy will soon realize that it is not acceptable to play a certain way.
Q] My puppy does not like chewing on the Yak Chewie.
If your pup finds the yak chewie to be too hard, soften it down a bit by submerging it in lukewarm water for a few minutes and then try again.
Q] Is the neem oil safe to use?
Yes, organic, cold-pressed neem oil is safe for your dog. Dabbing a bit of it on your furniture to avoid your puppy from biting is completely safe.
Q] I’ve gotten a lot of toys for my dog but he seems to be uninterested in them.
Plastic toys we buy lack all 3 elements: Smell, taste, and texture. This is what interests the dogs and is what they get drawn to.
Q] How to react when my puppy bites?
Give out a ‘owww’ and stop all play while not giving your puppy any attention. You can also leave the room although don’t put your dog in isolation – that can feel too much like punishment and increase stress..
Q] Will spraying my pup with water, holding their mouth shut or a smack on the nose work?
A big NO! All harsh punishments will do is cause suppression and lead to future behavioral issues. This will also affect the bond you share with your dog in a negative way.
Q] My puppy is well past the teething phase but still tends to bite, what should I do?
This might be due to several reasons, one of which being that your puppy has grown thinking it is okay to play bite. Contacting a trainer is recommended here.
Do check out our puppy biting kit!
Have more questions? Write us to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help you through them.
That’s it folks! You are now equipped with the right products and knowledge to take toilet training heads on! Don’t forget to keep us updated with your journey by posting pictures of your flufff and tagging @flufffcrew or with #fluffkit. Also, if you found this to be helpful, please recommend to other puppy parents too 🙂 Thank you!