Thursday, May 21, 2015


Mouthing is natural for all puppies, and self control must be taught.

In Cairn Rescue we encounter many young dogs that have not had a good beginning in life and therefore still exhibit many puppy characteristics because they have not had the proper instruction in self control.  Basic obedience is excellent for helping any age dog learn self control, but one of the puppy habits which takes a bit more effort to correct is biting or mouthing.

Mouthing is absolutely natural for any puppy to do, but it is usually corrected by the mother and the litter-mates.  When puppies are taken from their mothers early to maximize their value in a pet store, the pups are cheated out of their organic education.  If the new owner does not understand how to teach “Manners 101” to their puppy, chances are greatly increased that this puppy will become a young dog that gets into trouble with it’s mouth and ends up dumped in a shelter, or worse.

The following tips to teach a puppy not to mouth or bite are perfectly applicable to teaching a young Rescued Cairn the same lessons.  It will take time and consistency, but oh what a difference you will make in the life of this little Rescued Cairn!  In addition to the tips below, we strongly recommend hand feeding your Rescued Cairn to establish a positive relationship between your dog’s mouth and your hands. 

Biting and Mouthing

Those little puppy teeth are sharp!  Many puppies will start experimenting with their mouths by biting or mouthing you.  This may seem cute, but do not encourage it by allowing it to happen without a reprimand.  If something would be horrifying in an adult dog, do not allow it in your puppy!  This definitely includes mouthing and biting.

There are a number of methods for stopping this behavior:
  • If your puppy mouths or bites you, let out a loud, high-pitched “yelp” and withdraw your hand, moving it out of sight, like behind your back.  This simulates what his young puppy siblings would be doing if they were being mouthed and bitten by your puppy.  This will usually be sufficient to make him stop his mouthing at that moment.

  • Gently but firmly slide your hand under his chin and close his mouth, wrapping your fingers up and around his little muzzle, look him in the eye with a scowling expression, and say “No bite!” in a low, firm voice.

  • If your puppy is mouthing your hand or fingers, very gently push your finger just a bit farther back into his mouth, enough to make him uncomfortable but not enough to hurt him, of course, and say “No bite!” in a low, firm voice.  If you have long fingernails, don’t attempt this!  You could damage his mouth or throat.

  • Whichever method you use, be consistent and calm.  Reengage with your puppy and anticipate he may try mouthing again.  Repeat the correction.  If he tries to mouth you again, retract your hand and say “No bite!” then stop whatever activity you were doing at the time.  Get up and move, stop petting him, or stop playing with him.  “If you bite me, game over!”  Wait at least ten minutes before reengaging.

This may take some time.  It is a natural instinct for puppies to mouth when they play or when they want attention.  You must override that natural instinct, and it will take time.  But it is essential that your puppy understands that human flesh does NOT belong in doggy mouths. 

Good luck! And thank you again for opening your heart and home to a Rescued Cairn Puppy!

Rescuing one Cairn will not change the world,
but it will surely change the world for that one Rescued Cairn

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