Puppies are generally taken from the litter at 7 to 8 weeks of age. This time with its litter mates is critical as it is used to help puppies learn to read body language and signals with it’s littermates through play and interaction – signals like, let’s play or too rough!, or back off please! Good breeders do not allow their puppies to be removed from the litter too soon because they are aware of the importance of this time needed for socialization and puppy training. This helps new puppy owners from having puppy behavioral problems. BUT,good puppy training doesn’t stop here. Responsible owners wait until the optimum age to get a puppy and then immediately begin their puppy training in the home. Smaller dog breeds like terriers or toy pups should stay in the litter until 8 to 12 weeks. A little research along with the following note- worthy facts and you may have a better understanding of why your puppy is exhibiting aggressive behavior.
- Fact: It is common to frequently see aggression develop in dogs that were removed from their mother and litter mates between the ages of 2 to 6 weeks.
- Fact: A lack of experience in the socialization process with littermates and other puppies can lead to fearful behavior and possibly defensive aggression. Puppy training and socialization with other puppies is critical.
- Fact: This same aggressive behavior is also seen in dogs that are brought home at 8 weeks of age but are never taken out for environmentally rich experiences like meeting and playing with other puppies and dogs, walks in parks and the neighborhood and proper training when it comes to meeting people and children.
- Fact: These dogs automatically opt to use defensive aggressive behavior as their only tool when first communicating with other dogs.
Correcting Problem Biting with Puppies If you watch a mother pup correct her young pup she will often times start off by the least method then becomes more assertive as needed. The steps are outlined below that you can use:
- First, simply freeze (no feedback to reinforce the biting) and in fact turn away to discourage biting.
- The next level (with some aggressive pups) you would make a quick move towards the pup in the form of a lung as she snarls and growls – very fast and abrupt.
- If all else is failing, use a distracting ploy. Toss a chew bone or Kong toy in front of the lunging puppy as a distraction.
There are also some topical applications to try if all else fails.
- Bitter Apple (a topical spray) from your local pet store will some times work. You may also have to combine Bitter Apple with some of the above techniques. Apply to back of hands to prevent biting and spray on jeans or shoes if puppy is biting pant legs or shoes.
If adequate puppy training, desensitization and socialization is started as early as possible after the puppy is brought home, many puppies can learn to develop the critical social skills they need to lead productive and positive social lives interacting very well with other puppies and adult dogs. The bottom line is that you can avoid aggression and injury with these non-physical recommendations. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!” Jim’s Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him. You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home. The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family.