Meet Maya, a 12-week-old Golden Retriever. This precious angel has everything going for her – looks, smarts, and a whole lotta love!
Her parents, Vikram and Gihan were concerned about Maya’s mouthiness. We explained that minor play biting and mouthing behaviors are normal and allowed up to around 5 months of age.
Play biting or “mouthing” is an important part of the puppy learning process. However, puppies need to be clear about the difference between soft nibbling and hard bites!
To teach Maya to stop biting so hard, Vikram and Gihan learned how to play a game we call Drama Diva Queen. Maya learned that biting got her ‘Shunned!’
How to play Drama Diva Queen:
- Begin with happy play and get your dog excited.
- As soon as you feel your dog bite down on your skin, say “Owww!” and dramatically turn your back! *
- Shun your dog by withholding all attention — be sure to break all eye contact (do not look at him/her).
- Stay with your back turned, waiting silently for 3-5 seconds.
- After 3-5 seconds of ignoring, return to playing with your dog as before.
Repeat as necessary.
* With dogs older than 6 months, you should respond to any ‘tooth on skin’ contact. A well-behaved dog should NEVER be allowed to put their teeth on you.
- You can try attaching the leash to a heavy table leg or couch leg to prevent your dog from following you during a ‘shun’.
- Stepping on a leash can be a helpful management tool to use during this game. The leash prevents your dog from trying to jump up on you while you are shunning him.
- Volume can be a distinguishing factor. Like with Maya, minor play bites may only require a low level “Owww”. Harder bites can have a more dramatic “OUCH!” and even result in you leaving the room for 30 seconds!
If you play this game consistently, your dog will go out of his way to avoid nipping people – most clients see results in only a few 10-minute training sessions!
Some dogs will need more than just “Shunishment” to get the picture.
Try this game 3-5 times in a row. If your dog isn’t getting the idea, you may need to try a more advanced game like “Out of the Pack”, available on Zen Dog Training Online.
To learn more about Drama Diva Queen, Out of the Pack, and other puppy training games check out Zen Dog Training Online!