The gamble of Extinction
"Extinction...is its own kinda gamble"
The best behavioural quote I have heard in quite awhile. What does it mean?
You cannot ignore a behaviour away. Recently I was involved in a discussion involving puppy biting.
The popular advice: Ignore it, the pup will grow out of it.
Unfortunately that is never the case.
To explain this I will refer to the savage nature of our dogs. Teeth are not ornamental, they are tools.
Like a chisel, knife or saw. I say like because they are not the same. We can sharpen tools and increase their longevity beyound their initial design. Dogs cannot do this with their teeth. Left to their own devices dogs will suffer a long and suffering end when their teeth break down.
With that in mind, when do we believe that dogs learn to regulate their bite force and target? Very early on, prior to puppy play. They learn to regulate bite pressure when they are still taking milk.
8 weeks later, when they come home to you, they have an understanding of how hard is too hard and what is good to bite and what not. This is linked to their survival and ultimately their thriving. But they still need to learn what you are ready to accept and refuse.
To come full circle: A puppy that does not learn what is off limits for their teeth will use their teeth at the wrong time on the wrong object. This is called "problem behaviour". When does this tend to show up? Between 18months to 3yrs. I see it mostly at 2yrs of age when its already too late.
Why wait? Teach a dog what to bite and how hard to bite as well as what not to bite and how to regulate their bite force.
Get a sturdy floppy toy and engage your puppy in a game of Tug of War and teach them it is good to bite this toy. You can build (teach) confidence, structure, inhibition, emotional intelligence, trust and fitness with this game.
You can even let them "win" and run around the house like a loony if they like it. You can stalk them like a wolf stalks a moose or a lion stalks wildebeest.