Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Teaching Bite Inhibition to Shih Tzu Puppies

Teaching Bite Inhibition to Shih Tzu Puppies

Shih Tzu puppies, like children, will never be perfect in behaviors. A certain amount of tolerance is expected, but it is well to understand a Shih Tzu puppy’s messages so you can react to reshape unwanted behaviors when limits are exceeded.

All puppies are “mouthy” during the teething process, however, there are exceptions in that you will encounter Shih Tzu puppies that just won’t take no for an answer and keeps chomping on people’s hands instead of those objects given him to chew on.

First try to understand what nipping means to a Shih Tzu puppy. Put yourself in the shoes of a Shih Tzu puppy. A six to eight week old Shih Tzu puppy finds itself a reasonably confident navigator of its environment. The Shih Tzu puppy may try to explore everything it can and uses one tool with which to investigate its environment – its mouth, not much unlike a small human toddler. To a Shih Tzu puppy, its mouth is like a hand used for exploration of its environment. Generally speaking at this time, the Shih Tzu puppy is not at all vicious or mentally disturbed because they display mouthing behaviors. In fact, this is a very normal behavior in which Shih Tzu puppies use to discover and explore their surroundings.

Shih Tzu puppies direct their first oral attentions to their mother’s soft underbelly where they find nourishment. If a Shih Tzu puppy bites its mom too hard during nursing she will rebuke the puppy. This is the Shih Tzu puppy’s first lessons in inappropriate “nipping or biting.” He learns to listen to mommy. As the Shih Tzu puppy matures mouthing behaviors are directed toward littermates during play. When one puppy becomes too rough during this type of play the others usually complain loudly and withdraw. The biting Shih Tzu puppy learns to be a little easier on littermate if the fun and games are to continue. The puppy begins to learn bite inhibition. The puppies that are bitten learn to avoid the circumstances that lead to the painful consequence and that withdrawing are a good defense strategy.

Almost every Shih Tzu puppy finds itself in a new home without a disciplinary “mom,” and former littermates. Instead the Shih Tzu puppy has doting human owners who must serve as parents and siblings rolled into one unit. What happens when the Shih Tzu puppy wants to play, can’t find its littermates and nips a human?

A person knowledgeable about puppy matters might react like the mother dog or a littermate with a sharp rebuke, maybe with words like “Stop it” or “Ouch” or a light tap on the nose with a finger, and/or immediate withdrawal of attention. You might even respond by closing the Shih Tzu puppy’s mouth tightly and saying sharply “NO BITE” then place an object that is acceptable for biting into the Shih Tzu puppy’s mouth.

Connie Limon is a Shih Tzu breeder. She publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. Sign up at: Designer Dog Clothes are offered on the website.

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