The word dominance is thrown around a lot these days in dog training circuits. Famous dog trainers have used the word so much on television and in books that many new owners have become a little paranoid about it. Dominance can be very damaging to the relationship you have with your dog and in some breeds, dominance needs to be constantly suppressed – particularly guarding and fighting dog breeds.
Just a Baby
Puppies are babies and they need to grow up and learn and try new things just the same as you did when you were growing up. Puppy biting is all part of their maturing. A lot of people forget this about puppies as soon as the teeth start to show as we have become hypersensitive to signs of dominance.
Puppies bite for lots of reasons but the most frequently seen is due to over-tiredness. Just like human babies if they don’t get enough sleep, puppies will become frustrated and cranky and as they can’t cry, they release their tantrum in biting and showing their teeth. When this happens, simply pick the pup up with no fuss or shouting and put it into its bed or dog crate. The puppy will whine and want to come back, just like children who don’t want to go to bed, but you have to be firm and know that what you’re doing is right. Make sure the pup sleeps for at least an hour before you let it back out.
Training Your Puppy to Bite Softly
Puppy biting in play can be quite painful. Those tiny little teeth are like needles and even a young 9-week old pup has a lot of strength in its jaws. Training your pup to bite softly should start from the moment you get the pup home.
This is quite simple as all puppies want to do is play! Get the pup to bite onto your hand and as soon as you feel any pressure make a loud ‘yelp’, snatch your hand away (be careful on those teeth) and turn your back on the pup. This is great ‘puppy language’ for ‘you hurt me and now I don’t want to play with you.’ Go back to the game after a minute and you’ll be surprised how quickly the pup will learn not to bite you, after all, the last thing it wants is for the game to end.
Training puppies not to bite hard is just as important in toy dogs like Pomeranians as it is in a heavy breed like a Rottweiler. No matter what breed, size or type of dog you have, you must show the pup that humans are soft, weak and very easily hurt. Training a dog during its puppy years will prevent it from being accidentally dangerous in adulthood.
Could it be Dominance?
Older puppies, around one year to eighteen months, can start to show genuine dominance. These are teenage dogs and, just like humans, they are going to push you and try to see just what they can get away with. Your once soft and harmless pup will suddenly turn a bit disobedient and start doing things you have already taught them is wrong.
You need to prove to these young pretenders that you are still in charge! This is still your house and the dog is still at the bottom of the pack. Don’t let a teenage dog get away with anything. If you give the dog a command it knows, such as sit, and it doesn’t, it just stares at you, this is blatant boundary pushing. Don’t lose your temper, don’t shout, don’t make a fuss just wait patiently for the dog to do as it’s told (in really stubborn teenage dogs this might take five minutes of waiting). The dog will eventually yield and sit down. Once it does, even if you’re furious, give it lots of praise.