Biting & Jumping
When puppies play with each other, they jump and
use their mouths. Therefore, puppies usually want to jump up on humans and bite or "mouth" hands during play or when being
petted. For the puppies, this is usually friendly, happy good fun. However, it
is often unwelcome and sometimes startling and unacceptable to humans.
Because puppies are highly motivated to mouth &
jump, attempts to suppress it or stop it are unlikely to be successful unless you give your puppy an alternative behavior.
The goals of the steps listed here are to redirect undesirable behaviors into acceptable ones.
1. Discourage Unacceptable Behavior
You can discourage puppy biting at the same time by teaching your puppy that nipping "turns off" any attention and social interaction with you. To teach bite
inhibition, make a high pitched "OUCH", then stop the interaction. Ignore her until she's calm, then try the introducing a
positive alternative, like a chew toy. Keep in mind that it will take repetition
for your puppy to understand & make the connection between the behavior and the consequence.
Nipping and mouthing hands can also be discouraged by loosely holding
your puppy's lower jaw between your thumb and forefinger after she's taken your hand in her mouth. Do not hurt your puppy by
squeezing too hard, just gently hang on so that wherever her mouth goes, your hand hangs on. This will quickly become inconvenient
to puppy and she'll try to drop your hand and pull away. After several seconds, release her jaw, but continue to offer
her your hand. If she licks or ignores it, praise, pet and offer a treat. If she closes her mouth on your hand again, repeat
2. Encourage Acceptable Behavior
Redirect your puppy's chewing onto acceptable objects by offering her
a rawhide or other type of chew toy when you pet her. This will keep her mouth busy while she's being petted.
You can also encourage “kisses” rather than biting. This can be done by offering a hand ( I use a flat hand) with a verbal request for
“kisses” instead. Praise the dog when kisses are given and reaffirm
that those are “kisses, good dog.” Again, this allows the dog to
follow the mouthy desire, but substitutes an acceptable behavior for an unacceptable one, and ends on a positive note.
Remember to always
teach your puppy the right behavior by offering her an acceptable alternative that is positive (in this case a chew toy or
a request for kisses instead).
In the dog world, jumping up is considered a friendly
greeting. Unfortunately, this does not usually translate as well to humans.
When your puppy jumps up on you, she wants your
attention. Keep in mind that negative attention is still attention and
may still work to reinforce the behavior. Instead, the best response is to deny
attention, or withhold it until acceptable behavior is exhibited.
1. Fold your arms
in front of you & turn away from puppy. You may use a command as well, such as "off." but do not pet, talk
to or otherwise interact with the dog during the jumping, as that will reinforce rather than discourage. [Discouragement]
2. Continue to turn away from
puppy until all four paws are on the ground, then you can reward by quietly praising her and/or giving a treat. If your
puppy knows the "sit" command, give that command once all four paws
are on the ground, then reward by quietly praising and/or a treat once she's in the sitting position. You can begin rewards first when all four paws go down, then move to the 2nd step of rewarding "sit" once puppy
masters the off command. [Encouragement]
3. When you begin to praise
or treat your puppy, if she begins to jump up again, turn away and repeat the steps above. To avoid re-exciting the jump up response, keep your praise low-key & do not hold treats high up in
Once your puppy realizes that she consistently gets
no attention from you while she's jumping up, but does consistently get attention when she stops jumping up and sits, she'll
stop jumping up. Remember this will take repetition & consistency on your part.
If you decide to pat and praise puppy while he's jumping one day because he's just so cute, then change your mind and the
rules next time you come in the door, expect your dog to be confused.
Remember to always reinforce the desired
behaviors with your attention and praise!