Puppies explore the world through their mouths, just like human babies.
And just like human babies, they can become overstimulated - when this happens, they can get very bitey, and it can be difficult to calm them.
What is overstimulation?
Overstimulation is when the brain is so 'wired' that the puppy just can't relax. This can lead to ongoing issues, so it's really important to make sure your puppy gets plenty of down time. Dogs relax and sleep for up to 18 hours each day, and at least 12 hours are in deep sleep. Your puppy needs even more than this.
What are signs of overstimulation?
Biting or being snappy is one of the signs - others can include barking, chasing their tail or spinning and being hypervigilant.
How does this happen?
Often overstimulation happens simply because new puppy owners don't realise just how much rest a puppy needs. They mistakenly keep playing and entertaining it, and eventually the puppy will just not be able to cope with the stimuli.
Children can often be involved in overstimulating the new puppy. Children are naturally so excited about having their new playmate, the poor pup seldom gets a chance to rest.
How do you calm your puppy down?
My first port of call is always a crate. Crate training your puppy is helpful for so many reasons, but basically it's your pups own space. With a bed or blankie, it's where they go when they want 'me' time. As cute as it might seem, don't let your kids go in there. Your pup needs a place that says 'leave me to sleep in peace, I want space'.
Redirect. Chewing is a self soothing activity, so remove your hands, feet, whatever gently, quietly, without fuss, and replace with one of their toys or treats. Old school folks might try to tell you that this is rewarding your puppy for bad behaviour - that's rubbish, all you are doing is offering a more acceptable alternative.
As painful as it can be - those teeth are like needles hey - DO NOT squeal, yelp, run away, flap your arms or attempt to smack or push pup away with your feet. This will just make your puppy more excited and exacerbate the situation.
If your pup is jumping and trying to bite, tuck your hands up under your armpits out of the way, and turn side on. Don't use your knee to push him away. Don't give any eye contact, as hard as it is, be boring. Pup will eventually realise that the behaviour isn't getting the reaction they want, and will stop.
If at any point you feel your puppys behaviour is getting out of hand, and that you really don't have success managing it, enrol the help of a force free trainer.
Things never get better when left alone, they just get worse, more entrenched and harder to resolve, so if you do need help, get it sooner rather than later.
You can search for a trainer to help you HERE - please choose a force free professional who will help you build an amazing bond with your pup without fear, pain or force.
Read our other blog posts in this series