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Categories: Puppy Training

Q. My son likes to play with our German Shepherd puppy but she’s always biting him. What is appropriate play interaction between a 10 year old boy and a puppy?
I have a 10 year old son who likes to play with our 4month GSD. The issues I’m having is the puppy wants to bite on him. Even with re direction and giving a bully stick or elk antler chew. I think the puppy views my son as a litter mate. She doesn’t really bite on me but I’m the one training and feeding her. She does it more so with my husband who likes to get on the floor with her and roll around. She does it constantly with my son who likes to play tug with her and he tends to move pretty quickly with his arms feet etc... I’m thinking his quick behavior is making her worse ( puppy bite). I also think the issue with my husband is he is getting on the floor with her. I normally don’t get on the floor to play but stand and or limit my play time with her (mainly train, care give, I do pet and love on her but not on the floor). Could this be the problem? How do I handle my son who wants to play with her? What is appropriate play interaction of a 10year and puppy? We want her to be a good family dog.

A. OK, I think changing the way your son AND husband interact with her is the first step. I would not allow this. My rule for puppies is if I don't want them doing the behavior as an adult, I don't allow it as a puppy. Some examples are jumping on people, getting on my bed, wrestling in the house, etc... What is acceptable for a 10 lb dog may not work with an adult GSD.

I would be adding more structure to your son's interaction with the puppy, get him involved in calm and more thoughtful activities like helping you with reinforcing obedience behaviors. You don't want this to become a habit and then have to use corrections to stop it (especially when it's something that has been accidentally encouraged) I would not be letting a child play tug with a puppy that is biting. Another thing to keep in mind, at 4 months your puppy is going to begin teething and her mouth may be sore so I would actually not play tug with her at all until her adult teeth come in.

A great activity for kids is for them to learn about marker training (which is briefly covered in the puppy video you have) . We have a video that explains how to do it and even has some fun exercises where you train each other with m&ms or skittles as a reward. I would ask your husband to refrain from the rough play as well.

We have some videos called relationship games part 1 and 2, these videos show fun and functional ways to interact with a dog so that everyone in the family can join in on.

This is the kind of message I get a lot, how to manage the FAMILY :) Everyone needs to be on the same page or it's unfair to the puppy.
  
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