Wee baby bitey
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 03:16 pm
I got a panic call the other day. Hereís the gist. A family who had a great golden retriever for 10 years had gotten used to quiet, well-mannered and child-safe. Enter: new puppy. The new puppy is a chocolate Lab and full of beans. Heís biting everything in sight. Q. Is this a poorly bred puppy? A. No. This is normal for a large (or small) breed puppy.
Puppies have instinctive play rituals that include gnawing, tearing, chewing, and shaking. These rituals are precursors to the predator behaviour that is present in the dogís genes. There is also the sheer enjoyment of exploring, discovering, and sequestering an object with the sole intent of taking it apart during the investigation.
The first thing then, is to understand that the pup is not evil or acting with any kind of intent to hurt you or make you feel bad. His wild ancestry has programmed him to be an opportunist whose survival depends on his knowing everything about everything in his environment. Your job is to provide an environment suitable to his needs. Puppies thrive in environments where they are part of the home life; where they have lots of toys and chew-friendly bones (raw real bones are best); where they can explore a box or a paper (not plastic) bag at their leisure.
Between the ages of 4 and 6 months pups will lose the baby teeth and the new teeth then break through. It is imperative that pups be given bones and appropriate toys to chew at this time. The pup must and will chew whatever he can get hold of.
Like your slippers.
When a puppy is 6 to 10 months he is not a baby nor is he an adult. In the wild he will still look to older members of the pack to bring home food. The bigger wolves will leave pieces of meat, gristle, or bone fragments for the younger ones to find and carry off.
Slippers left by the door are so gratefully and enthusiastically received as manna from their superiors arenít they? It is heartwarming that our furry charges so appreciate our efforts on their behalf. (Thatís why we love them. Yes?)
Ravinn O. West is kennelmaster and trainer at Ravendale Kennel and Training Centre at Cochrane, Alberta. Her latest book, The Tao of Dogs is available from www.ravinnwest.com You may send questions or comments to her via firstname.lastname@example.org