A guide to navigating the challenge and adventure of life with your dogs.

Puppies Behaving Badly: Jumping and Biting

Jumping up and mouthing too hard: two of the most common dog behavior problems.

Fortunately the solutions are fairly simple – they just require some patience and consistency on your end.

Each of these solutions are based on the following basic process. Most behavior problems can be solved by following these three steps.

1. Dog misbehaves, so you take the Good Things away immediately. The “Good Things” will vary depending on the situation. It might be attention from you, toys, or playtime.
2. Redirect the behavior by telling/showing the dog what to do instead, OR waiting until she does something good on her own.
3. The dog does what you ask, so you immediately give her the Good Things that she was after in the first place.


Jumping

Dogs jump because they want your attention, or they want what you are holding in your hands (toys, treats, etc). Teach the dog that she will get these Good Things only when she sits down with all four feet on the floor.

Step 1. Sparky jumps on you. Without saying anything, immediately turn away. If you were sitting/crouching on the floor, stand up and turn away. Be boring. Sparky may start nipping at you. As long as she is being “bad,” you keep being boring.

Step 2. Wait until Sparky stops jumping. This may take two seconds or it may take ten minutes. She may step back and stare at you, bark, turn away or get bored and run off. This is all good. At this point, all we are looking for is “four on the floor.”

Step 3. Redirect the behavior. Tell her to sit (If she’s run off, get her attention by calling and sounding excited first). As soon as she sits, say “yes!” Reward her with what she was after in the first place. Did she want your attention? praise, pet, or play with her. Did you have a toy/treat she wanted? Give it to her.

Step 4. If she starts jumping again, immediately start again with step 1. Be consistent with this process and I promise Sparky will eventually figure out that jumping = no fun, and sitting = lots of fun.


Biting

Puppies bite because it’s fun! Dogs play with each other by using their teeth. But puppies don’t realize that biting hurts; they have to be taught to use a “soft mouth.” Teach Sparky that if she bites too hard, playtime ends. Her mother and littermates started this teaching process, now it’s up to you to finish it.

If an adult dog is mouthing too hard, it may be because they never learned this lesson, or they’ve “gotten away with it” enough times in the past that they think it is an acceptable thing to do. This process will work for adult dogs as well puppies.

Step 1. When Sparky bites too hard, make a loud noise, like “ouch!” or “ah ah!” and then walk away immediately. Keep your back turned. If you time it right, this sends Sparky a powerful message: If you bite me, you don’t get to play with me.

Step 2. Wait thirty seconds or so. If Sparky is really revved up, wait a couple of minutes.
Be boring.

Step 3 Return to Sparky and offer her some appropriate options for getting you to play with her. Have her touch your hand with her nose, sit, make eye contact or even gently mouth your hand. Or you can offer her a toy and praise her when she “attacks” it. If at any point she starts nipping again, go back to step 1.

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