We all have expectations of what our newly adopted puppies will be like: cuddly, cute, sweet, funny, and playful. What most of us don’t expect: a puppy piranha! So many clients show me their “war wounds” when bringing new puppies for wellness care to Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital. Puppy teeth are sharp teeth! They can slice and dice arms and hands easily.
What to do about your own puppy piranha? First, know that nipping is normal puppy behavior. All puppies do it (some more than others) and the vast, vast majority outgrow the behavior within a few months. Puppies generally lose their deciduous (baby) teeth by six months of age, and teething behavior often resolves by that time.
Second, know that there are some ways to minimize the slicing and dicing of your hands and feet. The first strategy is to try and redirect your pup’s focus away from you and on to an appropriate object such as a toy or bone. If you can throw a ball, or toss a chew toy across the room and refocus your land shark, that’s the easiest thing to try. If redirection doesn’t work, the next thing I would suggest is to turn your back to Sharky and begin to ignore the heck out of him. All that Sharky wants is your attention; by withdrawing attention and breaking the interaction with him, he will quickly grow bored and move on to something else. It’s important to note that yelling “No! Stop! Ouch! Off!” is still giving Sharky attention, and he will not perceive this as a threat or deterrent.
Finally, if nothing else works, leave the room. Completely break any and all engagement with Sharky until he has calmed down. Stand close by so that you can peer into the room where Sharky is. This will allow you to re-enter and re-engage with him as soon as he has calmed down. Your land shark will soon evolve into the sweet, cute puppy you envisioned!