An emergency visit to another biting puppy!
The young couple have had eight-week-old Springer Spaniel puppy for just four days. His flying at them and grabbing legs and clothes as they walk about has reached such a level that they are wearing their wellies in the house now!
Actually this is sensible. So many people with puppies walk about in bare feet, socks or even fluffy sllppers with pom-poms and suffer. Puppies instinctively chase and play with moving things.
Their trump card is – food!
Until a few days ago Piper was with her litter mates, all eight of them. She would chase, grab and bite. They would let her know, as would her mother, if she was too rough and she would understand.
Unfortunately, we humans are speaking an entirely different language. We think, with NO, whisking the hand away and perhaps grabbing her that we are telling her to stop. To her the play-kill game is simply intensifying.
Piper has now had four days honing her ‘grabbing clothes, chasing feet and biting hands’ skills!
In my first visit we dealt with the biting in exactly the same way as I did with Henry a few days ago.
We used food. We used food, not to reward biting but to reward behaviours that involved not biting.
They will also get a pen so she has a small area in which good things happen and in which she has plenty to chew and destroy when she gets over-excited! A sancturary, too, where she can fall asleep with nobody, children in particular, disturbing her.
I am always amazed how quickly such a young puppy catches on to what a clicker is all about.
I use it simply to say ‘Yes!’. If there is no clicker to hand the word can be used. It’s always followed by food. In a few minutes the puppy is looking for ways in effect to please us – looking for ways to make us say ‘Yes’ with that click. Every small wanted behaviour gets a ‘Yes!’ – like walking beside me without flying at my trousers. Very quickly she realised that she earned attention (and food) for sitting or being still.
The food she needs to eat anyway can be used for something useful. It can be used not only to teach her that the best things happen when she keeps her teeth for her toys and chews, but also to help introduce her to the outside world.
There are countless things outside their house and garden that Piper has yet to meet
The earlier the better.
Cars, lorries, wheelie bins, people with hats, other dogs big and small, bangs, smells – the list is endless. What better than to take her tea out in a pouch and with every new thing she encounters give her a bit of her food. She is small and light. She can be carried.
This way she will develop a happy curiosity and confidence in encountering new things – before the fear period hits at about thirteen weeks. Like a baby at a certain age may suddenly start to cry when a stranger says hello, a puppy can suddenly experience wariness. Unfortunately three months of age coincides with when most puppies venture out for the first time after their injections and it can be too late.
I shall visit again next week to see how they are doing. There are lots of things Puppy Parenting entails, including making sure from the beginning that puppy can be left alone for short periods happily, toilet training and walking beside them around house and garden without a lead initally.
The young couple should soon be able to save their boots for the country walks they will be taking with their wonderful Springer in a few months’ time.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for piper, and group classes may not always provide all the answers for problems in the home. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with your own puppy. (see my Help page)