- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


play fighting

May 19th, 2010, 08:12 AM
we just recently got a new puppy and found that shes the perfect dog for us except for one thing. we have a new baby on the way and were hoping they'd be good together. the problem is that our little dog (chihuaua/pug) likes to play fight. which usually consists of her flailing her head around until she can bite you. she doesnt bite hard, but thats not the point. and every time we go to scold her she figures its part of the game, which obviously isnt the case. any tips?

May 19th, 2010, 08:19 AM
How old is she? Is she at an age where she should be settling down or still a puppy herself?
Do you say No in a firm voice and stop play immediately and walk away or do you just say no and continue playing? If you continue playing it is sending her mixed messages. She "thinks" it's ok to bite if she is playing. She doesn't know the strength of her own bite.
Try saying No, giving her a chew toy or bone to chew on and walking away. If you are consistent in this by the time the baby is big enough to play too then she will know better than to bite.
There will be lots of dog savvy peeps along soon to help out I hope.

May 19th, 2010, 08:39 AM
i guess now that you mention it, i would continue playing once she stopped. but then she would quickly do it again. i guess we have to seperate the biting from the playing so she knows its not ok. and btw, shes 5 months.

May 19th, 2010, 08:54 AM
She'll stop that eventually. Offer her chew toys when she bites. I've raised puppy's around my daycare kids, it will stop. You are one big teething toy right now.

May 19th, 2010, 08:54 AM
My dog would bite sometimes while playing when he was a pup. Our vet recommended that if he nipped, just gently hold his mouth closed and say "no". It seemed to work!

May 19th, 2010, 10:09 AM
Yeah, at five months she is teething and still very much a baby herself. I think the best thing to do is to redirect with a toy to chew on. When you are playing keep a toy handy. When she starts nipping say No and give her the toy to chew.
Personally I don't think holding her mouth closed is a good idea. Sometimes we get too rough for a puppy too. JMO

May 19th, 2010, 10:53 AM
We yelped loud if our pup bit 'too hard', and then quit whatever we were doing and walked away. Gradually, we'd yelp even if it wasn't 'too hard'. Now Bodhi will play with our hands, but the worst that will happen is that we get slobbered. She must think we're an incredibly vulnerable and sensitive pack, but she doesn't dare bite down.

We are the only ones who initiate play. If our pup initiates, we don't play. We might start playing with her two minutes later - as long as it is US who are initiating, not her. If she's nipping to initiate play, yelp and walk away and don't play.

If she's playing with anything inappropriate, we redirect her to something that is appropriate.

We also started early with 'drop' and 'leave it'. As much as possible, we say it with a firm but not frustrated or loud voice - no emotion in it, just a firm command, followed by a treat or a neutral 'yes' followed by some love when she drops it or leaves it.

May 19th, 2010, 01:23 PM
Here's an excellent article by Dr. Ian Dunbar on teaching puppies bite inhibition:

May 19th, 2010, 11:22 PM
She'll stop that eventually. Offer her chew toys when she bites. I've raised puppy's around my daycare kids, it will stop. You are one big teething toy right now.

I mainly offer toys. The dogs know it's ok to bite toys but not hands. If they continue to bite hands don't continue playing with them. 5 months is old enough for them to learn not to bite, even if it is normal puppy behavior. Some dogs WILL grow out of it with little interference but sometimes you end up with an older dog that nips if you don't work on it when they're young, so biting hands should never be considered acceptable at any age. It should always nipped in the bud, so to speak.
I had an adult rottweiler when I was a kid that nipped constantly during play and it sometimes hurt, because the owners never taught it wasn't ok. She would also herd and nip ankles, not hard enough to cause injury but it was painful. It's not something all dogs grows out of if they learn it's ok to do it.

I don't agree with holding the dogs mouth shut. That doesn't teach them anything other than that people will try to hold their mouth shut. What if it hurts them or aggravates them and causes an actual aggressive bite? You don't want your dog to be scared of your hands or learn that they shouldn't bite ONLY if someone can hold their mouth shut.

Nipping should be redirected to items that they're allowed to chew and bite, like toys, and if biting of the hands continues play should be stopped immediately.