Can you imagine petting an older adult dog? You stroke his head, touch his face, brush his coat, and never once does he put his mouth on you. If you are the owner of a young Boxer puppy then this picture probably seems hard to image right now. If you have ever been bitten by your puppy, and you probably have, then you are likely very familiar with the feeling of tiny razor sharp puppy teeth on your bare skin. Although your young puppy's bites are not dangerous until your puppy develops stronger jaw muscles, the bites can definitely make you jump in surprise and can leave a series of red marks all over your arms, legs, hands, and anywhere else that your Boxer decides to give a nip.
Most puppy biting is normal before the age of six months. Some breeds such as Boxers tend to be more mouthy due to excitement or inherited traits. Most puppies learn about and interact with the world around them with their mouths. If you have ever noticed adult dogs playing together, then you probably saw the dogs gently bite one another in play. The problem is that your puppy needs to learn how to control his mouth before his jaws get strong and he can cause real injury. If you have young children, your puppy's biting can also cause fear and lead to your puppy bullying them.
When puppies play together they do a great job of teaching each other how to control their mouths. If you have ever watched your puppy play with another puppy, and your puppy bit the other puppy too hard, the other puppy probably let out a yelp and stopped playing with your puppy for a couple of minutes. This yelp communicated to your puppy that his bite was too hard, and the other puppy stopping the game was a natural consequence of your puppy's actions. In most cases, your puppy would eventually learn through this type of play to be gentle with his mouth, but most puppies are not with other puppies all the time, so your puppy will need you to teach him.
Learning how to control his mouth is something that your puppy will need to learn while he is young. It is much harder for an adult dog to learn how to control his mouth later on, and many will be tested in a moment of surprise or fear. If your puppy learns how to not only stop biting but also how to control the pressure of his bite, then he will be more likely to control the severity of his bite during an unexpected incident as an adult. Most dogs will bite when put in the wrong situation, such as when his tail is accidentally closed in a car door or when he is frightened while sleeping. If your dog has learned good control of his mouth as a puppy, then when your dog does bite in such circumstances, the bite is less likely to break the skin and require medical attention.
If your puppy is less than four months old, then you can spend time teaching him how to control the pressure of his bite by using the 'Yelping' method. This method takes time to teach and your puppy will need to stop biting completely before he has developed strong enough jaws to break the skin at around five months of age. If your puppy is older, then it is best to start with one of the other methods that will teach your puppy to simply stop biting altogether.
Play biting is normal for all young puppies, but if your puppy is showing any signs of true aggression then it is very important that you seek immediate help early on. These methods are designed for training your puppy to stop normal puppy mouthing biting. True aggression will need to be addressed at its roots. If your puppy is lunging at you or a family member's throat, this is not normal behavior and is an emergency situation. Seek immediate assistance from a qualified trainer or behaviorist in your area.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. If your puppy is very food motivated then you can use your puppy's normal kibble for this. Using your puppy's own kibble as a reward will help to keep your puppy healthy and will teach your puppy to work for his food, so that better treats can be saved for high-level training needs.
If you are using the 'Yelping' method then you will also need patience and at least two months to teach this, so that you can gradually increase the difficulty level as your puppy improves. If you are using the 'Leave It' method, in addition to food you will also need lots of items that your puppy finds tempting to practice with. These items can be balls and other toys, clothing articles like socks, shoes, shirts, and gloves, paper wads, sticks, leaves, stuffed animals, and anything else that your puppy likes to put in his mouth. If you are using ' the 'Pressure' method then you will need a thick glove if you do not want to use your bare hand. A leather gardening or work glove should work well for this. You will also need a no-nonsense attitude and a calm demeanor. With all of the methods, you will need consistency and the ability to remain patient, calm, and boring.