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Categories: Puppy Biting/Chewing

Q. I have a 5-month-old shepherd who is so persistent in chewing on me! What would you recommend at this stage in training?
Hi Cindy,

First, I would like to compliment your company for always providing quality products that arrive promptly and provide guaranteed satisfaction. I have purchased many of your products, in addition to some of your DVDs on training.

My question is a common one; however, I desperately need your perspective! I have a 5-month-old shepherd who is well-trained thus far for a puppy (marker training and basic commands). However, the exception to that statement is that he is so persistent in chewing on me! I redirect his focus with your teething and training toys & bones, as well as using Bitter Apple on my hands. Unfortunately, even after a lot of exercise, he continues to be a mouthy (yet otherwise well-loved) puppy. What would you recommend at this stage in training? The holes in my hands are pleading for any new ideas...

Thank you from a loyal customer,
Los Angeles, CA

A. How are you dealing with the biting now? Have you corrected him? He’s obviously enjoying it or getting reinforced for doing it, as pups usually outgrow this by 5 months old. The fact that he’s still doing it makes me believe he’s feeling like this is a big game and he’s in control of it.

Have you tried redirecting him into another behavior, like a down every time he shows the intent to bite at your hands? If he’s laying down, he can’t reach your hands.

If redirection doesn’t work, then I have no problem giving a puppy an appropriate correction for biting me. This comes down to a respect issue. I look at it like this "What would another dog do to this puppy if he was constantly biting them?" They would give him a swift correction and that would likely be the end of it. How strong you are with the pup, depends on his temperament. My now 16 month old puppy was horrible about biting me as a young pup, and I finally just got tired of it and gave him a strong correction. When he backed off, I said GOOD and asked him to sit (or anything you KNOW he’ll do) and then use my marker and gave him a reward. Since you’ve allowed this to go on for so long, you may have to get after him a bit more but make sure you aren’t just buying into his ‘game’. A lot of puppies like the physical stuff. We think we are correcting them but in reality we are simply egging them on unknowingly.

That’s why I always try to redirect with a toy or with an exercise the puppy likes to do. Interrupt the pattern. If you know there are specific instances that he’s most likely to start biting at you, try to be ready to interrupt him the split second you see it in his eyes. Don’t wait til he already has his mouth on you.

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