June 28, 2005

Bite Inhibition

Australian Cattle Dog puppies use their mouths, a lot. So there are two things we're learning at the moment.
  1. It's ok to put your mouth on your human's hands or arms, but it must be very gentle.
  2. It's not ok to nip your human on the heels or grab their pants leg.

Dusty does have quite a gentle mouth. When she was reluctant to settle at night I stuck my hand through the bars of her crate and she licked and nibbled my fingers until she went back to sleep. But the last couple of days she has turned into Fang the attack puppy.

It she bites too hard I yell loud enough to startle her. I don't pull my hand away or turn away because I don't want to introduce any elements that she might see as part of a game. If she comes back gently and licks then she gets a 'good girl' and a game with a toy. So far that has worked. If or when it doesn't, then the next step would be a second 'ouch' and then leave her alone for a few minutes.

When she grabs my pants as I'm walking, I say 'Uh huh', again loud enough to starle her, and immediately drag a tug or a leash to attract her attention to that. When it stops raining we'll do some choose to heel exercises which will give her something else to do when I'm walking.

Thommo takes my arm as a form of communication (I have visions of him leading me Lassie-like through a mine field) and he has very good bite inhibition. Once a vet was necessarily hurting him and he took hold of my arm and held it until the procedure was finished and didn't leave a mark. That's what I'm after - a dog that knows what force is appropriate.

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