Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Never say it will never happen. The consequences of the Puppy biting game
Just over nine months ago, I received an email from the owner of a young dog that was biting her hands, arms, feet, and legs and it was now beginning to hurt. I replied to say that this was a normal game for young dogs but when played with other young dogs as the bite began to hurt dogs would squeal as if in pain or puff themselves up and rush their faces directly towards the biting dog and give a loud GRRRRRRUFFFFFF right into their face. This was to warn them their bite was not acceptable.
The idea behind the game is hunting but between dogs, it should, after some trial and error, only become a fast non contact sport with lots of mouthing as if they were about to bite but they do not actually make contact.
Puppies will try the same game with humans but never ever play this game.
Dogs must never bite humans of any age. The owner said she had tried pushing him away but he only came back harder and now he was hurting her. Pushing puppies away only makes them think you are only playing the game.
I suggested she giver her best and deepest GRRRRRUFFFFF into the face of her dog and keep her hands away.
About an hour and a half later, I was watching a film when I heard the ping that I had mail. The owner told me she was not impressed as her dog had now bitten her nose and asked would I go round the next day.
Most times when I enter a house any juvenile delinquent dog seems to be on its best behaviour but after a while, the dog began to look playful so I handed the owner my Kevlar gloves and asked her to make a grab for her dog’s front legs. It went to bite her hand and the owner instead of making the deep Gruff noise made a high-pitched Rufff sound that is a playful bark and the dog thought this was a very good game indeed.
I put the gloves on, got down onto the floor, and encouraged the dog over to me then I started the game. As soon as it went to bite my hand, I gave it my best loudest GRRRRUFFFF right into his face and he stopped immediately then went and sat next to his owners legs.
The owner said she could not do that as it was frightening her dog. I suggested the use of compressed air but as the result would be the same that was also unacceptable. I suggested if the dog tried to bite here again move her hands out of sight and walk away. This she would try but then it goes for her legs and ankles.
I did my best to explain that this game must stop as his bite will become stronger and if any children were to enter the house; her dog may well bite them even if for the dog it was all in fun.
The owner said no children ever came in the house so she thanked me, paid me and I left wondering if I could have said any more to encourage her to stop this game.
About seven months later, I received a telephone call from a woman telling me her mothers dog had badly bitten her young sons hand. She was certain he was only playing but her sons hand was in such a bad way he needed to go to hospital. The result was a hand that blew up over twice its size and a Denuncia for the dog.
It was only when she mentioned where she was staying that I remember it was the same dog and told the woman about my previous visit to her mother’s house. The woman slammed the phone down leaving ringing in my ears and I went back to my work.
Just over an hour later, the phone rang again and it was the woman again who apologised for slamming the phone down but she was so annoyed that her mother had known about this problem and allowed her son to become its first victim. She asked could I come round now.
I soon arrived at the house the daughter let me in but the dog’s owner just stayed sat down and said hello. Her daughter told me what happened and showed me her son’s hand. It was not as blown up so much now, but it still looked a mess.
I had expected them to ask if I could remove the Denuncia but I explained that only a vet like Maria Carmen Garcia of the Vets in Javea Port needed consulting first. Only then if she called me in could I then correct the problem and then she would write a report to confirm the dog was no longer dangerous and lift the Denuncia. The daughter said the Denuncia could stay.
I explained the method I was going to use and I got down on the floor playing with the dog but it was not having any of it with me. I gave the Kevlar gloves to the daughter and a can of compressed air in her right hand. I told her to fuss the dog then attempt to grab its front legs. Sure enough, it got enthusiastic and attempted to bite her.
I had instructed the daughter to wrap the dogs lead round her leg and when she fired the compressed air it could not move away so she could praise him for stopping but even though the dog stopped, she kept her finger pressed on the cap and condensation was forming on the side of the dogs face. I told her to stop and praise the dog, which she eventually did, but she said it was just the feeling of total revenge for what it did to her son.
Certainly, after that one shot the dog was not interested in playing the game again. Even the dog’s owner could not get it to play.
The daughter thanked me and paid for my time and two cans of compressed air and I left.
I did not hear anything for about two months but then one day the phone rang and it was the daughter to tell me she and her son were going back to England and his hand was much better. Though the dog never tried to play the game any more if it even looked sideways at the son he just walked over to the table and held the compressed air and the dog walked off.
I often receive queries of puppies still playing this game and the bite becoming a problem. I know puppies bite is initially light and it may seem fun and playful at that time but as puppies grow so does the strength in their jaws. If you have ever bred ferrets this is one game you stop immediately.
Never ever, allow puppies or older dogs to bite you even in fun as my mother use to say to me “It will end in tears” and so it did in this case but at least we had retrained the dog successfully. Nevertheless, this was not before someone was hurt. Please never ever assume it will never happen because as like as not, it will and it could even be financially costly for you.