How to Make Sure Your Puppy Has a Soft Mouth

This means that your puppy will take treats from you without biting you. As you probably know, puppies have shark teeth until their adult teeth come in.  Baby puppy sharks running down the hall with those shark teeth makes a person want to avoid their puppy’s mouth.

That is the worst thing a person can do. As my puppy trainer told the class when Pepper was about 16 weeks old, “Stick your hands in the puppy’s mouth as often as you can. The window is closing.”
That window is the one that teaches your dog not to bite you when you give treats or brush its teeth.  It might hurt a little bit now, but it will hurt a lot more later if the dog doesn’t learn how to use its soft mouth to take treats.

This is how you do it. Let’s say you stick your hand into the shark puppy’s mouth. If she bites down and causes pain, you squeal in a high-pitched voice like a litter mate. The puppy will learn that she is biting down too hard, and of course she wants to please you. Do this over and over along with everyone in the family and your puppy will learn not to bite down so hard.

At twenty weeks, the window is closed, according to the puppy instructor. If you have trained your puppy not to hurt you, she will have a soft mouth for you the rest of her days. She loves you and wants to please you. This soft mouth is not necessarily translated to other adults, especially threatening ones. So don’t worry. If a burglar breaks in and meets your dog in a dark hallway, she’s not going to have a soft mouth for the burglar. She’s going to rip a hole in his jeans as he runs away.

Likewise, if you’ve got a baby in the house, and the dog also lives inside the house, the dog is going to be gentle with the baby because you have spent time with the both of them interacting. That being said, never feed a dog near a baby or small children.  Dogs have a thing about their food.  Keep everyone away when feeding, even and especially other dogs.

In my house I have a fifty-pound dog, a twenty-pound dog and a ten-pound dog. Guess who gets all the food and all the treats if the dogs are together with no supervision? That’s right, folks. The fifty-pound dog gets it all. That is why the big dog eats on the covered porch (it’s California after all), the medium dog eats in the kitchen corner, and the little dog eats behind a gate. Everybody gets its intended meal with no stealies or growlies.

Growling is bad when food is involved. You want to nip that in the bud. Take away their desire to growl by separating the dogs. As for treats, Alpha gets the first treat and then down the line. Food bowls left on the floor also can cause growling when one dog gets too close to another ones’ bowl. Pick up the food bowls as soon as they are empty.

Expect your dog to sit under the high chair and under Grandma’s chair. Dogs are pretty smart, after all.

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