ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Puppy teeth are sharp!

These needle-like teeth can really hurt when a puppy bites.(Photo: Pinterest) VERO BEACH — Some of you may have a new puppy in your home. There are three important lessons every puppy needs to know by the time they are 4 months old. These lessons are bite inhibition, house-training and socialization. The time frame is crucial. The behaviors are easiest to learn before the age of 16 weeks. They are also the behaviors that decide if a puppy will remain in its home. The easiest way for a puppy to learn bite inhibition is from its littermates. If a pup bites too hard, the sibling will back off and refuse to play. The biting pup soon learns if he nips too hard, the fun stops. If he bites Mom while nursing, she gets up and moves away. The milk bar is closed. Puppies learn quickly from members of their own species. It is a good idea to leave puppies with their littermates and mother until they are at least 8 weeks old. This gives them an opportunity to learn bite inhibition. If your puppy goes to play dates, the lesson will be repeated over and over again. Puppies are oral. Even if they understand the concept of a soft mouth, they are not capable of controlling themselves. They are driven to bite. As soon as you bring your puppy home, begin to teach him a gentler touch. Your skin is more tender than that of your puppy’s canine friends. When your puppy begins to mouth you, yelp a dramatic “ouch!” Most puppies will be startled and let go. As soon as little Spot drops your hand, praise him and give him something other than your hand to chew on. Stuffed Kong toys and chews like Bully Sticks are good diversions. This takes many repetitions; remember puppies are obsessed with mouthing. If Spot continues to be too rough, yelp, then ignore him for a few moments. Look at the ceiling, tuck your hands under your arms and pretend he does not exist. Act like his mother and siblings did. Make the fun go away when Spot is biting. Again, try to divert his attention to a more appropriate item. If Spot persists in mouthy, unruly behavior, you may need to crate or tether him. Puppies can easily be over-stimulated. Set yourself up for success. You might need to limit petting to several seconds to help Spot remain calm. Games that involve you chasing the pup or wrestling might get him too excited. Play fetch games. Practice some simple training like sit and down. Stimulate his mind to help calm his body. While puppy biting and mouthing is normal behavior, dogs need to know their teeth should not touch human skin. By interrupting his biting and redirecting your puppy to appropriate toys, your puppy can learn and maintain bite inhibition. Cissy Sumner of Best Behavior Pet Training is Vero’s first Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge and Skills Assessed and Certified Behavior Counselor Canine-Knowledge. If you have a question, email her at or visit . Read or Share this story:

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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