Mom to Fyodor & Gibson
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: southern CA
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It's normal puppy behavior. Be patient, and it will pass.
Our 9 week old little guy has a pretty soft mouth already, but I get him riled up on purpose sometimes because I want him to teach him bite inhibition and self-control. He does like to bite my hair or my nose when I'm lying on the floor when he's really excited/playful, so I lay down on the floor to tempt him a few times a day. Even when they're not hard bites, I still yelp and act like it really hurt me. I go completely silent, stop all playing, put on a really serious, grim, hurt face, and either turn my back on him or walk out of the room. Sometimes I'll even go into the bathroom and slam the door. I always come back after a few seconds and invite him to play again. He usually starts licking when I come back, but if he's still bitey, I freeze and ignore him again.
As far as biting things he shouldn't, I try management techniques to prevent it from happening in the first place. He's in the crate when I can't give him 100% of my attention. I spray all things with bitter apple, and watch my pup at all times. As soon as he shows the slightest sign (showing interest) in items that are forbidden, I redirect his attention and pretty much shove a toy (of similar texture to what he was trying to go for in the first place) in his mouth. And I ALWAYS praise immediately when he starts chewing on the appropriate item.
I think a huge mistake puppy owners make is to yell/correct the "bad action" while ignoring the "good." People usually leave their dogs alone when they are doing the "right thing." It's easy to do that, because you're thinking "Yes! Finally, some peace!" and you want to enjoy it while it lasts. But as soon as the pup does something "bad," you go and correct him. So some puppies start doing bad things because not only was the act rewarding (chewing relieves boredom and it feels good on their teeth), but it also got mommy/daddy to pay attention to him/her.
When Gibon's chewing on his toys, I always calmly praise, smile, give massages, give random treats, and even hold Gibson's nylabones or kongs for him so he has good grip, and interact with him to let him know he's doing the "right thing." I sometimes even bite on his teething toys myself and pretend it's the most interesting thing in the world. It's tiring, yes, but so worth it. I try to make everything crystal clear for my pup and he is doing great so far. I did the same thing with my other Golden from Day 1, too, and he turned out to be the best mannered adolescent Golden I know. To the dog, it makes sense. Hmm... chew on bitter coffee tasting table legs (mom ignores me or makes grim faces at me) vs. chew on the unbitter nylabones (AND mom seems really pleased, massages me, pays me attention to me, interacts with me, and gives me random treats while I chew on this.). Make it an easy choice for your pup.
Good luck! It doesn't all happen overnight and the lightbulb doesn't go off in their heads right away for some pups, but as long as you're patient and consistent, it WILL happen.