Chewing, Bite Inhibition, and Play-Biting

We have a guest blog post from one of our trainers, Devan Amundsen, who is writing about life with his new puppy! Check out ‘The Pup Blog!’

Well Wade is out cold! He naps so much, it’s almost easy to forget he’s in my life now!

But, when he isn’t napping, he’s biting.

He chews on absolutely everything.

So how do you manage it?

Obviously, it’s an extremely normal puppy behavior. Their teeth are growing, their gums hurt, and chewing is a fantastic way to pass the time!

Great. Just don’t chew on my shoes… Or the carpet… Spit out that rock! DON’T EAT THAT!!

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.35 PMSo far, I’ve coated all power chords he can get to with some bitter “yuck” spray. It tastes incredibly bitter, and Wade hates it. You can even just use white vinegar diluted with water.

This stuff works great. Every time I catch him chewing on something that I can’t move out of his reach, I just spray some of this on there.

Corners of rugs, edges of furniture, power cords, baseboards, everything and anything my pup can chew on that I don’t want him to has a small amount of this on there.

So far, it’s working really well. He learned immediately that power cords taste disgusting, and why would he want to chew on something disgusting?t

But it’s mean and non-sensical to just walk around and tell him what he can’t chew on.

That’s where this little group of indispensable items comes in handy.

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.27 PMI’ve been using these constantly with Wade.

Every time I catch him chewing on something, I take it away from him, say “no,” (Calmly and neutrally,) and hand him one of these things to occupy his time.

He immediately forgets all about what he was doing, and happily gnaws away at something good for him!

The rope is great for his teeth, massaging his gums and providing something soft, but firm to chew on.

The bully sticks are STINKY! They smell awful! But he loves them. C’est la vie. My only warning with these is not to leave him unattended for too long with one. Wade did chew on one for basically a whole day, and it turned into a soggy mess that he ended up half-swallowing. Thankfully, I was there to take it from him.

That’s another thing. Take things from your puppy. A lot. Take it, praise him, maybe give him a treat, and then give it back. That way, your puppy knows, “Whenever someone takes something from me, it’s okay! I get a treat and I get it back eventually anyway!”  Possessive issues solved.

I almost forgot about my favorite toy of all… The Kong. Wade absolutely loves his Kong. I have two, and I have one stuffed at all times. I stuff it almost entirely with food, but layer it with Kong stuffing so it stays interesting and challenging all the way through. Wade LOVES IT! He gets all of his meals through a Kong or hand-fed to him.

I almost forgot… Play-biting.

Photo 2013-05-30 01.55.59 PM

This picture was probably counter-productive, because it took 2 straight minutes of him biting my hands before I could get an acceptable picture… But he looks VICIOUS!

Wade is being such a little butt-head about biting! He likes to nip at fingers, clothes, and even faces when he’s playing! AHHH!!

This is normal puppy behavior as well, and as much as I’d like to teach him never to bite anyone ever, it’s too early for that.

Why?

Let’s say you taught your puppy to never bite anyone ever. Extremely reasonable, and your puppy should be doing that soon.

But not yet.

First, we need to teach him bite inhibition. Teach him that his mouth is a tool he can use sometimes, especially when playing with other dogs, but that he needs to be GENTLE! We’re teaching a “soft-mouth.” That way, one day when a small child scares the heck outta your dog by running up and jumping on him, the dog won’t turn around and bite with all of the immense power possible.

Basically, bite inhibition keeps a dog from doing actual damage if there was ever a need to use his/her mouth.

Teaching bite inhibition:

  1. Play with your pup. Be rough.
  2. When the pup uses any bite force whatsoever, yelp and pull your hand away.
  3. If your pup bites you three times in a row, stop the play session immediately, but calmly. Call him/her a bully, and walk away.
  4. Your puppy is going to be like, “What!? I was playing with thaaaaat!”
  5. When you come back into the room, make your pup sit calmly before initiating another play session.

It’s that easy.

Once your pup has a nice soft mouth, (about the time he gets his grown-up teeth,) We can teach him that with these new grown-up teeth, he is not allowed to bite. Ever.

Teaching Not to Bite:

  1. Any time your pup puts teeth on you, yelp, and walk away.

That’s it. End of story. Biting is restricted exclusively to toys… And maybe other dogs…

A fantastic way to reinforce bite lessons is to just let your puppy play with other puppies! There’s options everywhere, just search around. What you’re looking for is for your puppy to get some experience playing with other puppies. Other puppies instinctively know what’s appropriate, and what isn’t.

Your puppy should be playing with other puppies as SOON AS POSSIBLE!

So there you have it. Your quick guide to chewing, bite inhibition, and play biting.

Fit ‘N’ Furry’s Paw-by-Paw Guide: How to Paint Paw-Print Nails!

We all love our furry friends, and we all show it in different ways; some more prominently than others! If you are one of those that prefers to display your love of the four-legged variety (like we are!), then read ahead on how to paint some puppy or kitty paw prints on your nails.

Supplies:

  • Clear base & top coat polish
  • 2 or 3 colored nail polishes (it is best to use a lighter color on the base, and darker color for the paw prints)
  • Nail kit including: nail trimmers, emery board, & cuticle nipper (if desired)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Q-tips
  • Manicure stick, nail art brush, nail art dotter, or toothpick
  • Tinfoil

Instructions:

Gather all of your supplies and choose your desired nail polish colors. As noted above, the paw prints will show better if you select a lighter color for the bottom coat and a darker color for the paw prints, but choose whatever fits your mood at the time and play around with it!

 Image

Start by prepping your nails; remove any previous polish, trim and file nails, soak if wanted and trim cuticles. I decided to paint my toenails since this was my first time trying this out and wanted to make sure I had my dominant hand to do the art with! For you more adventurous or steady-handed types, you can obviously apply all these same techniques to your hands.

Image

Once clean and pretty, apply clear base coat to all nails.

 Image

Paint nails your chosen color for the background. I would recommend doing 2 coats, especially, if like me, you chose a super light nude color. I also went with a design for the background on my toes, just to try out my nail-art-applying skills. These, as you can see, are not really up to par just yet.

 Image

 I used a piece of tinfoil as my palate. Just place a couple drops of the nail polish you will be using for the paw prints on this and use a toothpick, wooden stick, or more professional nail art device to apply.

Image

 Start with the the largest part of the paw first – the pad. Paint one larger circle in your chosen color for the paws.

Image

Next, I painted 3 smaller circles arching around the top of the ‘pad’ circle. Technically dogs (and most cats) have 4 toes, but I went with 3 for simplicity’s sake.

 Image

Paint remaining paw prints on other nails and, Voila! You have pet-inspired, and oh-so-cute, paw print nails to show off to all your two-legged friends!

 Image

See? Not too difficult at all! Switch up the designs to what suits you; multiple tiny paws, one on each nail, etc. Nail art can also be done on the tolerant dog, and could look something like this: Image

 Happy painting!

Fit’n’Furry Investigates: What Pet is Right for My Child?

“Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?! He’s so cute! I promise I’ll look after him! I’ll do everything for him. He’ll be mine! You won’t have to do a thing! Please can we get him, Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?!”  A familiar sound at shelters, pet stores and adoption events, a child’s plea for a pet is cute (unless it’s a shrill cry) but as a parent you may be wondering – when is the right age for your young one to take care of an animal. What pet is right for him? Is he an appropriate age? Is he responsible enough? How much of the work am I going to end up with? Each child and family is different, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind before taking your little bi-ped to adopt a new quadruped family member. 200155493-001

The ASPCA recommends different animals for different ages for first time little pet owners. Between the ages of three and five, your child is learning about contact and empathy. ASPCA experts recommend a guinea pig for a pet. “Guinea pigs like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy, to the delight of most kids. Your child can also help with responsibilities by filling the water bottle and food dish.” Of course, mom or dad will need to supervise playtime and make sure that the cage is washed properly.

goldfishinbowlFor five to ten year olds, small pets such as gerbils, rats, hamsters and fish are recommended for learning proper care and pet hygiene. This keeps the parent’s involvement (aka: work) to a minimum.  Children at this age tend to have a short attention span. Keep watch that your child is giving clean water and is feeding the appropriate amount of food. They can help with chores such as cleaning the cage, washing the toys and measuring the food. These steps are vital before adopting larger pets that require more dedication. During this time of learning, your child is gaining confidence and a sense of responsibility which will bring them to the next step, if wanted.

Tweens are generally known to teens_walking_dog_in_parkhave the greatest interest in owning a dog or cat. They are mature enough to clean the litter box, and keep them watered and fed properly. For walking, they should not do so independently until they are typically over the age of 15. This is because kids under this age may not know how or be physically able to handle dangerous situations that may arise,  such as unleashed dogs. Kids of this age group can also attend training classes for Pooch; a wonderful learning opportunity! This is an age of reliance but parents should still keep tabs on how the pet is doing in terms of hygiene and diet.

Once your child reaches teenage-dom, they tend to become very busy with extracurricular activities, friends, school, and more. The ASPCA mentions birds or fish for first-time-teen pet owners. Your rapidly growing and maturing “little ones” will soon find themselves going to college and leaving their nest. So, remember that any pet is a FOREVER pet and the parent may end up with Fido or Fluffy for a very long amount of time.

It is up to the parent to create and keep guidelines for their child. Sure, they may make the promises to feed, water, clean, play and care with those cute little faces at the shelter. However, the situation may turn into the parent taking all the responsibility once the child finds out that it’s not all fun and games to own a pet. A great way to build trust that your child will take care of their pet is for them to use their allowance money to purchase treats, beds and toys. GlobalAnimal.org says that immediate positive reinforcement is a perfect and productive way to praise your child for a job well done; more confidence boosting and a feeling of responsibility. An outline to read with your child can be found here. No matter what and when your child decides to take on a new pet, it is the family’s duty to make sure that the pet is well looked after; it’s just a matter of how much time and effort everyone is willing to dedicate.