How Do I Stop My Cockapoo Puppy From Biting?

red cockapoo

My Cockapoo Puppy bites – what can I do?

 

If you have spent some time reading dog forums you will know the subject of puppies biting is often bought up.  On one hand it’s to be expected but on the other… IT HURTS!

New owners are quick to question their Cockapoo puppies temperament but this really is not necessary. All puppies bite. But a sensible owner will teach their puppy soft mouth behaviour a long with other essentials like toilet training. As a puppy grows up you will find that they learn bite inhibition naturally as they notice that their playful bites cause pain and draw a negative reaction from their owner. After all, all  puppies are looking for signs about how to please their owners.

So teaching bite inhibition is doing what most owners do in an accidental way by withdrawing when the bite becomes painful. By making the process into a intentional structured program you can encourage soft mouth behavior to happen sooner rather than later.

Why wait for your Cockapoo just to grow out of biting? What if there are children at home?; what if those sharp puppy teeth break the skin and a dressing needs to be applied?

Early Socialisation

If your puppy has had a normal start to life early experiences naturally teach bite inhibition while the puppy is nursing from the mother. If the puppy sucks too hard and uses teeth by accident the mother will push the puppy away or get up and leave. Also, when puppies begin to play with their litter mates, they learn to use their teeth softly or their play mates soon stop playing with them.

For this reason if your puppy is an orphan it may have a harder bite than other puppies who have had normal socialization with the mother and siblings. Also, for puppies that have not had this normal early socialization they don’t have a “tolerance for frustration” since they are not used to having to wait when siblings compete for attention.

Another factor that makes the cockapoo a good candidate for teaching bite inhibition is that genetically it has not been trained to bite down hard like some breeds. However, if you find your cockapoo puppy is biting down harder than expected you need to begin the process of teaching him/her self restraint straight away.

You can start lessons as soon as you like in fact after 5 months your puppy will start to grow adult canine teeth and have a stronger jaw so that is another incentive to start training early.

Anyone can teach their puppy bite inhibition

Start the process  – The 4 Rs

Remove – When you are bitten severely enough, let him/her know it hurts and say “Oowww” as calmly as possible. Take your body part (hopefully just a figure) out of its mouth and look away. This is showing your puppy that biting hard means he/she will lose your attention and of course that is not desirable for any puppy.

If he/she keeps wants to continue biting move to a different room until the puppy is calm. Then re-engage their interest.

Repeat – This is a process but keep being consistent and you will begin to notice that the bite intensity becomes less hard.

Your puppy won’t stop biting. They have such a strong urge to bite and chew you won’t cure this. But repetition will lead to increasingly acceptable bites over the coming weeks and months.

As the bite intensity decreases you can increase your sensitivity to the bite. Still  “Oowww” and remove. This will encourage softer and softer bites that slowly shape the puppies bite inhibition.

Reinforce – As with most training positive reinforcement is key. Softer bites should be rewarded with praise but keep withdrawing yourself as a negative consequence for harsh bites. Eventually soft mouth behaviour will be more common.

Redirect: You will probably notice times when your  puppy is just in a rambunctious mood. Spare yourself some pain and have some chew toys to hand and leave the training for a calmer time.

How not to do it

Physical punishment is not the way to go. Firstly because it won’t achieve your goal. Hitting a dog on the nose with a rolled up newspaper will just make your dog cower and suppress anger. This suppression can then come back at stressful times and result in severe biting. It’s also worth saying that it’s never a good idea to push your dog’s patience level to the point its good behaviour is stretched to the limit. Dogs growl for a reason, it’s their way of saying, enough is enough please don’t continue annoying me or something worse might happen. This is a particularly good point to teach children  as they love play with puppies but do not always understand where the boundaries are. (See “The Gift of Growling,” Whole Dog Journal October 2005.)  For a full discussion on physical punishment read this discussion thread.

Teaching bite inhibition to an adult Cockapoo dog

Teaching bite inhibition to an adult dog is much harder as we all know old habits are hard to break. You can however, use this variation of the “Oowww” remove technique.

Have a treat in your gloved hand and only open it when your dog starts to bite more softly. Gradually they learn hard bites mean no treats!

Thick gardening gloves are recommended if you are teaching adult dogs bite inhibition. Be careful, an adult canine jaw has much more strength and a harder bite than a puppy!

Wrapping it up

With puppies and adult dogs you will find that biting down hard comes back at times of high emotion but gradually this will lessen if you keep on with positive / negative reinforcement.

Do continue to reinforce bite inhibition with your adult cockapoo dog, and guard against putting your Cockapoo puppy in stressful emotional situations where his/her tolerance might be tested. A dog is an animal and biting is natural to them even when they are part of a human family. It’s rarely a questionable temperament cockapoos have but environments that cause anxiety or over exuberance owners need to be mindful of.

 

Source: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_6/features/Bite-Inhibition_16232-1.html?s=ShareASale

bite inhibition video (not a Cockapoo) but still useful to watch

 

Socialising Cockapoo puppies to people

Introduction

white cockapoo
Cockapoo puppies need to meet a range of different people during their ‘socialisation period’ (between about 3 and 12 weeks of age) to ensure that they accept contact with people as a normal and positive part of life. During this period, puppies learn what is ‘normal’ in their environment and what to expect in different circumstances.

It is therefore important for all puppies to learn that contact with all sorts of different people is a normal part of life. They also need to learn about the various types of interaction that people have with dogs. For example, they need to accept being handled all over, picked up, their feet being handled and cleaned, ears examined, coat groomed, and nails cut. They also need to learn about the various things that people do, for example, coming in and out of the house / kennel area. They also need to learn that sometimes people interact and play, but at other times they may be present but not interacting with them.

The aim of a structured socialisation program is to give puppies the best chance of coping well with the various types of people, circumstances in which they appear, and ways in which they interact with dogs, before they are homed to a domestic environment. In order to ensure they develop a positive perception of people, it is important for the introduction of new experiences to be gradual and controlled. It is also important that puppies are not already anxious or fearful when they interact with people, as this will increase the risk that they will associate human contact with a negative experience.

Preparation

  •  Plan in advance how you will ensure that puppies experience different types of people. All puppies should have contact with a minimum of four people. This should include at least one person of each gender. It should also include at least one person who is above retirement age. Puppies should also experience controlled contact with children. Ideally this should include at least one older child ( 8 years +), and also a baby or toddler
  • For safety, children should only have contact with puppies under the supervision of their parents or responsible adult. Where access to young children is not feasible, puppies should be exposed to the noises of babies and young children using good quality recordings
  • Prepare in advance any items which will help broaden puppies’ experience of people. For example, having a brightly coloured and rustling jacket (as worn by postmen or delivery people), a motorcycle helmet, a cap, a back-pack, a pushchair, a zimmer frame and an umbrella available will mean that puppies can people engaged in socialising the puppies can introduce puppies to items that they will commonly see associated with people as adults

Before you start 

  • Make sure the puppy is in a place he / she knows well
  • Have plenty of toys and treats
  • You should be able to recognise signs of anxiety in a puppy before starting the socialisation sessions, so you can withdraw if the experiences you are introducing to the puppy cause him/her to be frightened

Socialisation to different types of people

  • Puppies should be familiar and confident with their main carer before the introduction of further people. This person should spend time playing and interacting with puppies until all of the puppies in the litter approach the carer voluntarily on entering the kennel / room. Where individual puppies show signs of fear or anxiety, such as cowering at the back of the pen, moving away, trembling, or pulling back on contact, they should be given additional attention. This should involve the carer being quiet and calm, crouching or sitting a short distance away from the puppy and encouraging the puppy to approach.
  • Approaches should be rewarded with food treats. Interaction with nervous puppies should develop with gentle stroking on the chest area: avoid putting the hand directly towards the puppy’s head as this may be perceived as threatening. With increased confidence, the puppy can be gradually stroked on the shoulder, back, flanks and head
  • Once all puppies in a litter confidently approach and interact with their main carer, a program of introduction to other people can be started. Puppies’ response to the introduction of one other person should be evaluated first. Signs of fear or anxiety in individual puppies should be addressed by the main carer. Once puppies confidently interact with the second person, further new people can be introduced. These should include adults of both gender
  • When puppies are confidently interacting with a number of adults in a familiar environment, they can be introduced to people in different circumstances. For example they should experience people coming and going through a threshold (e.g. door in a household), and meeting people when they are in an outside garden or run
  • The socialisation program can then be expanded to include contact with children where possible. Older children can interact with puppies, but should be instructed how to appropriately handle and play with puppies before the interaction begins. Contact with children should be supervised at all times to prevent the occurrence of negative experiences for either puppies or children. Where younger children or babies are introduced to puppies, they should be held by their parents. Should direct contact with children not be impossible, puppies should experience the range of noises made by babies and children through use of a good quality sound recording
  • Puppies should be given additional experience about the variation in the ways people might appear to them through the use of ‘props’. For example people can interact with the puppies wearing a florescent jacket, motorcycle helmet or backpack. They can also walk past the puppies using a ‘zimmer frame’ or pushing a push chair or trolley. These experiences will help puppies to learn that all these variations of how people appear are a normal part of life.

Conclusion

Many dog owners will think a puppy socialisation program is extravagant and not worth the time spent. It’s up to the individual how in-depth they want to make the program but at at the least, remember to introduce your puppy to people, noises, props, and new environments carefully and remember you have a delicate sentient being to nurture into the a very scary world!