Imagine playing with your adorable Aussie puppy. You are having a great time tossing toys around and enticing her with a favorite tug toy. You end the play session after thirty minutes, and then go get ready to go out for the evening. As you are washing your hands and getting dressed up you notice your hands. They look like you stuck them into a briar patch and then struggled to pull them back out again. They are covered in red scratches, look a bit puffy, and in a couple of places, there is even a bit of broken skin. You sigh and continue to get ready, wondering what to do about your puppy's biting.
If that scenario sounds familiar then you are not alone. Almost all puppies bite when they are young. It's called mouthing, and when your pup plays with another pup, if he bites too hard, the other puppy will let out a yelp and stop playing with your puppy. This teaches your puppy to be gentle and to control the pressure of his bite. Your puppy, like most puppies after eight weeks of age, probably does not live with a litter of puppies anymore though, so it becomes your job to teach him how to control his mouth.
Training your Australian Shepherd not to bite you is important because biting hurts and can be annoying. It might also scare children and those who not used to it. One of the most important reasons to teach your puppy not to bite, though, is the fact that your puppy will not stay a puppy forever. Around five months of age, your puppy's jaws will begin to strengthen and he will have more adult teeth. At that point, the biting is no longer just annoying but can be dangerous if your pup bites hard.
If your pup is young still then you can help your puppy to learn to control the pressure of his mouth by taking him to play with other puppies. Make sure that the interactions are supervised though, that any attempts to bully each other are stopped, and that all of the puppies are having fun and not becoming frightened or too pushy. Puppies are great at giving one another feedback and helping to teach one another self-control. Although your puppy might learn how to be gentler with his mouth while playing with other puppies, he will still need for you to train him not to bite you.
If your puppy is young then using the 'Ouch! Method' can teach him to not only stop biting but also to be more aware of how he is using his mouth, and to have more control over the force of his bite. This might make him safer as an adult dog, in the event of a bite due to injury, fear, or the unexpected. This method is only appropriate for young puppies, though, because it can take time and you want your puppy to reach the point where he is not biting at all, or is extremely gentle with his mouth, by the time that he reaches five months of age.
If your puppy is young then you can work on the 'Ouch! Method' at the same time as the 'Leave It Method'. Doing both methods together can help your puppy to learn great self-control. You can go through the steps of the 'Ouch! Method' and then when you get to there point where you want to teach your puppy to not bite you at all, you can use the 'Leave It' command that you have been practicing with other objects while doing the 'Leave It Method'.
The simplest of all the methods is the 'Pressure Method'. If your puppy is sensitive or not very mouthy then this method is probably all that you will need in order to teach him not to bite. It is a relatively easy method to follow. It will require you to come into contact with your puppy's mouth though, so if your puppy is older and has his adult teeth and adult jaw strength, then the 'Leave It Method' might be a better choice. To save yourself from being scratched you can also perform this method while wearing a thick, leather type glove. You will need to keep the glove with you though, for unexpected bites.
To get started, if you are using the 'Leave It' method, then you will need small treats that your puppy loves. You will also need a glove or a sock, and other items that your pup loves to bite, to attach to yourself during the training. You will also need some of your puppy's favorite toys. If you are using the 'Ouch! Method' then you will need confidence, perseverance, patience, calmness, and the ability to say "Ouch!" in a loud and high pitched voice that sounds like a dog's yelp. If you are using the 'Pressure Method', you will need some of your puppy's favorite toys, a firm resolve, a confident attitude, patience, and persistence. If your hands are sensitive then you will also need a glove to practice this.