Congratulations on becoming a new parent to an adorable four-legged furball. While it is, without a doubt, the cutest little monster you’ve laid your eyes on, being a parent is not without responsibilities.
A common trait between all breeds of pups, be it an Aussie, Corgi, or Border collie, is that these canines were bred for a specific purpose. Dogs, in the past, took on the responsibility of being farm security or to herd livestock.
Also common is the behavior of biting the owner’s ankles. Initially, the bites may seem cute, but as time goes on, it is annoyingly painful. If you’re wondering how do you stop a puppy from biting your feet, you need first to understand why it does so.
Why Did My Pug Puppy Nip the Ankle?
Biting the ankle is a ‘natural’ habit for herding dog breeds. Biting the ankle is an inherited trait. All the pup is trying to do by biting you is herd. They are mimicking the livestock herding behavior which they were originally intended for.
The prime target of ankle nipping is anyone running around or vigorously at play. Nevertheless, such natural behavior of the puppy must be redirected.
Some traits go deeper than the skin. Certain traits of dog breeds are inherited. Consider the tendency of a Dachshund to dig holes in the ground. While the feat may look futile to you, it is the dachshund’s favorite pastime.
How Do You Stop a Puppy From Biting Your Feet
An easy approach to redirecting the guard dog’s natural tendency to bite the ankles is by encouraging it to tug at the sides. When the pup is conditioned to tug you at the sides, its innate likeliness of attacking the ankles is redirected.
Conditioned reinforcement by redirecting the pup’s attention from biting and chasing makes the pup play with toys more eagerly.
Don’t Be an Enabler
Like human habits, the ones we repeat frequently become ingrained. Puppies gauge the consequence of their behavior through the owner’s reaction. Are you reacting by running away or playfully yelling while it tries to attack your ankles?
If so, the reaction needs to ‘stop’ right away. All you are doing is enabling the pup to get more aggressive with its attacks.
Enrich, Instead: Toys
Toys are great resources for enrichment. The primary goal here is to provide the pet with an opportunity to control its life. Herding dogs may simply get bored when they don’t have work to finish. Since these breeds like to chase, play the ball with them.
Playing fetch is not as interesting as rolling the ball. Choose a large ball which the puppy can push around. Something like a yoga ball is a good choice. If the puppy does start to nip at your heels, keep its favorite toy in hand.
When the puppy attacks your ankles, stop moving and wave the toy to get its attention. Once it grabs onto the toy, it’ll automatically let go of the ankle.
All puppies bite. Here is how you train them not to.
They are small but sure have a sting to the bite. It is normal for puppies to bite on a chew toy or gnaw at anything they can fit their mouth around. Human babies bite during teething, and so do all younglings.
Your pup may seem cute when it’s playfully biting your ankles, but it needs to be taught the limitations of bite. The bite pressure increases when he is three months old, and you don’t want to bear the pain of skin puncture.
Training Pups to Be Gentle
Dogs possess the ability to control the pressure of bite, and this capacity is termed bite inhibition. Puppies unaware of human skin’s sensitivity aren’t trained for bite inhibition. These latch onto the skin and do some serious damage.
Dog trainers and behaviorists believe that canines trained on bite inhibitions seldom break the skin even when they bite when they’re in pain or afraid. Bite inhibition is learned when puppies play with other puppies.
A normal play routine for puppies is wrestling, chasing, and biting. When a puppy bites too hard, the victim yelps in pain. The cry of pain stops the offender mid-way to understand the situation. Within no time, the pups are back at play, and the offender ensures that the bites are gentle lest the victim cries in pain again.
Applying the same logic here, when you’re puppy is playing with you and if it bites too hard, yelp out in pain. The startled puppy will temporarily let go of your limbs and stare up at you. Let the limbs fall lose like you’re hurt. Praise the little guy if he stops to lick the wound. You need to teach the puppy that gentle pay time continues, but when it turns painful, it stops.
Is your puppy biting for fun, or is it a temper tantrum?
Puppies sure do throw temper tantrums, especially when they’re told to do something they aren’t fond of. Your puppy can throw a fit if you hold it still or pick him up or when play overexcites them.
To tell if your puppy is throwing a temper tantrum, look at his facial features: does he/she appear relaxed? If yes, then look for signs in the body.
An easy sign of a temper tantrum is a stiff or frozen body. Deal with a temper tantrum by remaining unemotional. Do not yelp and aggravate the assault. At the same time, don’t hurt the little guy. Wait for him to calm down.
You have two choices: contact a behavior specialist or let the incident slip. One tantrum, now and then, is normal. But, when you start to notice frequent bouts, it is best to correct the situation with able assistance.
Nurturing a puppy is as tasking as looking after the needs of a baby.
As new as it is to you, you need to remember that the pup’s perception of the world is a work in progress. He isn’t aware of its limitations and boundaries.
Be easy on yourself and the little furry child.