Below is a training question we received and answered recently. As a member of Baxter and Bella’s PUPPY PREP training school, you receive access to our ASK THE TRAINER page. Members are welcome and encouraged to ask any question they have through the form on this page and we as trainers respond ASAP! How cool is that? It’s like having a personal trainer in your home to help you with any puppy need that pops up. We also post every question and answer we process on that page. You may find the answer to your question by reading someone else’s. We are better together! Become a member today by visiting our shop.

QUESTION:

Can you give me some tips on nipping & growling? I have a question about my dog nipping and growling at my husband, kids and me (not me all the time). He just started this and it makes me want to just put him in his kennel when he does that. We try to redirect him but it’s not working very well. I’m sure we are not handling it the way we should because the kids run from him and pull their hand away fast. Can you give me some tips? I don’t want my kids to be scared of him.

ANSWER:

Puppies love to play and they do so by barking, play growling and nipping. Your family is now his litter mates and unfortunately that means these things are now happening to you guys, not the other pups. He is also getting teeth in about now and his gums likely hurt. Don’t stress. It’s normal puppy behavior, but that doesn’t mean we like it right?

Teach your family dogs mirror our behaviors and emotions. If we get all hyper and excited (ie, running, quickly pulling away, etc.) this excites the puppy and makes him want to keep doing those play behaviors. If, on the other hand, we act slow, calm and gentle around the pup, it helps him be calm too. This is the hardest part for kids! The higher the squeal and the quicker the movements (all things kids naturally do) make puppies act crazy happy! Teach your kids how to safely interact with the puppy by: practicing commands, playing games like hide and seek or fetch. Keep play times short and then give the puppy some down time in an exercise pen or crate with appropriate chew toys.

Furthermore, puppies do have energy bursts at certain times during the day when they really need to get the excitement out. Tossing a small ball or rope toy, giving him an empty water bottle with the lid and ring removed, letting him chew an antler bone, benebone, Kong or other safe chew toy are all ways for him to appropriately get out that energy.

My FAVORITE way to release energy is to do training sessions. Engage him by waving a treat in front of his nose then get him to sit, down, sit, down, come, roll over, shake, high five, whatever you can lure him into doing (there isn’t even a need for him to understand the commands at this point if he’ll follow the treat). Get him to go on short walks off leash along your sidewalk and driveway (no further until he has all of his shots) by again showing him you have something yummy, breaking off small bits and feeding him every time he looks at you. Teach your kids how to hold treats so the puppy can’t bite them. Show them how to teach your puppy to wait calmly for a treat….hold onto that treat until the puppy backs off – no pawing, licking, biting. Wait it out with the treat in your fist and release when he backs off.

If he continues to bite, nip, etc, put him in his crate with something to chew on. That is completely okay. In our program we teach you about the puppy zones and sometimes our puppies hit that Zone 4 Over Threshold and need a nap! You may be surprised how quickly they fall asleep when in a quiet, confined space.

Happy Training!

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