Archived Message


by Jack

Our nine month old female is all puppy; healthy, happy and full of energy. She's supersmart and trains easily but a distressing habit is "nipping" playfully. Fingers and earlobes are fair game to her when playing. It's not truly aggressive behavior and it doesn't hurt. She knows exactly how much pressure to apply. I am concerned that some day she may forget. How do I break her without affecting her spirit? She's our second Maltese. The first didn't do it.


She is probably teething.

There is no such thing as "teething" in puppies; they don't suffer any teething pain the way human babies do. They have all of their baby teeth by the time they're eight weeks old, and they lose them gradually; all the permanent teeth will be in place by the time the dog is six months old. The teeth fall out periodically, and sometimes you'll notice one on the floor. This is nothing to be alarmed about. Just make sure the puppy has a toy to chew on, and that she doesn't get into the habit of chewing on other things. I don't allow my puppy to nip on us. I do three things not in the same order depending on the situation: 1) I say in a firm voice, "Ssstop Bite!", 2) "No!" The "No" I say the N sound starting with my tongue on the top of my mouth so that the N is really announciated and the O sound really rounded out with a tone my puppy recognizes as displeasure, 3) I say "Ssstop Bite!" or "NnnOoo!" and give her a chew toy or engage in a game to distract her. Always, I praise her with "What a good girl that Pixie is!" when she stops. Sometimes I have to assert my alpha position by taking my hand and holding her muzzle, looking her square in the eyes, and saying, "Ssstop Bite!". I used to have to do that when I first started discouraging this behavior. I taught my whole family how to do it. Now a firm "No!" usually stops her. She doesn't nip nearly as much anymore. We have to think as canines, not humans. I don't encourage any biting, nipping, etc. Encourage the chewing on chew toys, etc. You will have to teach your dog to discriminate what she can and cannot chew on. Hope this helps.

I have two that do this. Buffy likes to come up to me and pull on my clothes, or nip my leg. Bubba nipps the back of my leg when I am going somewhere. I have been scolding them saying no-bite. It is working fairly well. I know that they are not being agressive, but sometimes they pinch a little hard.
-Marsha A.

YUP! Mine too! Especially Harlee Dee. When I come home from work they both go bonkers but I'll try to pet Harlee and she'll, what I call,"nibble" me. She just gets SO excited I don't think she realizes what she's doing. Travis will, once in a blue moon, do this to my ankles when he wants attention. Speaking of "blue moons"here's some trivia, does anyone know what a "blue moon" is!!?? I was listening to the radio on my way to work last week and found out what it was......
-Karen Kalamaras

Vicki, your reply really concerns me. You say that puppies don't have teething pains? I thought that was why my baby was chewing me to death. She loves to bite my ankles when I walk, and always goes for the softest spot on hands. What I really can't stand is when she goes for my ears, and she always does. If it is not teething pains, why does she want to chew on me!!!???? p.s. I've been trying to break her of this, by giving her her chew toys, and correcting her, when she does this.

I believe a "blue moon" is the second full moon occurring in a month. Since full moons are almost a month apart, it is very rare to have two in one month, therefore the term "Once in a blue moon," meaning it doesn't happen very often.

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