Boss puppy? I don’t think so!

Tierce is a very dominant puppy. He doesn’t like to be held on his back and mouths a lot. We’re in the process of teaching him that humans don’t make good chew toys. Also, that ALL humans don’t make good chew toys!

I find that people either are too concerned with disciplining someone else’s dog or think it’s cute that a puppy is gnawing on them. I think that this is a behaviour that needs to be nipped in the bud. I believe that puppy biting can lead to adult biting, because the puppy has been lead to believe that it’s okay for him to bite people. No matter how gently the pup is mouthing, it’s still a dominance behaviour. Basically the dog isn’t respecting your boundaries as a pack member and that has to be stopped.

I use scruff shakes as my main method of negative reinforcement. It triggers an ingrained response, as that’s where a bitch would grab her puppies to carry them. It’s also one of the main points for a dominant dog asserting his/her status to grab. I also tap him on the nose when he starts biting at my hands. He doesn’t like that very much! However, I don’t want negative reinforcement to be my main method of dealing with this.

One of the things I’m trying is feeding Tierce his breakfast while he’s on his back, one kibble at a time. Since he only eats a handful at each meal, this isn’t too time-consuming. He was a lot better once he figured out that relaxing on his back meant that he got breakfast! I think I’m going to continue this and see how it goes. I also try to carry him around on his back, like a human infant, several times a day.

Once Tierce is fully immunized, I’d like to start him on a “stranger feeding plan”. Basically this means that I take his breakfast/lunch/dinner with us on a walk and give it to people, especially children, who want to feed the puppy. This way he associates all strangers with food and good times. Also, he’ll get reinforcement for obeying commands from other people = submission. Tierce isn’t going to be allowed off lead in an unfenced area and he’s not a protection dog. Therefore, I think that encouraging him to obey commands given by other people is a good step to showing him his place as a subordinate to all humans.

I’ve also got him a beef chewie that he likes very much. I plan to get more, and maybe some of the bigger bones. He has a stick (see picture) that he is very fond of. I think providing outlets for chewing may also help. Tierce is a puppy, after all, and puppies need to chew a lot!

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