Category Archives: Holistic training

Preventing Your Dog From Mouthing and Biting

Besides housetraining, the #1 issue for clients with puppies is mouthing and biting.  Puppies learn bite inhibition from their mother and littermates.  Without guidance from fellow canines, it falls to us to train our dogs not to bite.

konglargeIt’s important to keep in mind that pups explore the world with their mouths.  That’s why they chew your remote, your antique desk leg, tissues, rugs and your hands.  So give your dog some appropriate and fun things to chew.  Clients frequently use Kongs, Nylabones, antlers, ice cubes, and baby carrots.  I’m a fan of carrots and ice cubes because they’re cheap and low calorie.  I also like Kongs because they satisfy the chewing need and they also stimulate the brain and reduce boredom when they’re filled with treats. Nylabones and Kongs can be put through the dishwasher, which is nice.  Antlers are very durable, but expensive.  Rotating the toys available to your dog will keep him from getting bored with them.

These suggestions are great alternatives to eating your hand, but we must also train them to mouth gently and not bite.  Some dog trainers believe time outs are a good way to teach dogs not to mouth.  I believe that putting a dog in timeout takes away your opportunity to teach appropriate behavior.  Time outs are better for management – when YOU are at the end of your rope – than for teaching, in my opinion.

Pups will frequently mouth while we’re petting or playing with them.  As long as the mouthing is gentle and appropriate — remain calm.  If the mouthing becomes hard, freeze the motion of your hand and say “no” firmly.  Some people prefer to yelp but that might further excite the pup.  When he lets go of your finger or starts licking you, praise him with soft, soothing sounds.  If he persists and doesn’t seem to “get” what you’re teaching him you may want to use a chewing deterrent on your hands, like Bitter Apple or vinegar.

Set up play sessions 3 – 4 times daily, with sessions lasting about 10 minutes.  Correct the behavior you don’t want and reinforce the behavior you want with praise and petting. I’m a big believer in setting up a situation that will tempt your pup to misbehave, so that you can teach him appropriate behavior.  Having said that, don’t play with your dog by waving fingers in front of him, or jamming your fingers in his mouth.  That’s not play; that’s temptation.

There are some pups who turn to mouth on you every time you pat or stroke him.  You can teach your dog to not be hypersensitive to touch by giving small treats with one hand while you stroke with the other.

I began this article mentioning that dogs learn bite inhibition from other dogs.  You might consider taking your pup to doggie daycare where he can play and learn from adult dogs or other pups.  All of this can take place under the supervision of the daycare staff.  Another benefit of daycare is your pup will come home tired after playing all day.  And he may be so tired he won’t have the energy to mouth on you!

Like most of life’s lessons, the key to teaching this is patience and consistent practice.

4C’s of Housebreaking: 4 C’s: Chow, Confinement, Consistency, Clean up Chow


  • Feed your dog a quality food on a schedule.
  • Puppies 6 months or younger, three times a day
  • Adults, twice a day


  • Limit her access.  A pen, baby gate and/or crate are important.  As she improves her house training, gradually increase her access to your house.
  • The crate should only be big enough to  stand up, turn around, and stretch.


Consistency is important to help your dog learn.  Multiple methods, places, and verbal cues will be confusing.

Have a potty schedule.

  • Adults: when they wake up, after play, after eating.  They should go out at least four times a day.
  • Pups:  when they wake up (including naps), after play, after eating, after baths.  In general, take age of pup in months to determine how long they can be confined without a potty break.  For example a two month old pup can wait two hours – maybe three.

Take her out on leash; give her 10 minutes to find a spot.  Say your verbal cue as she is squatting.  Reward with praise, treat, and play.  No playing until after elimination.  If she doesn’t eliminate, put her back in confined area for 20 minutes or so, then take her out again.  Repeat until success.

Clean Up:

  • Clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner.

Holistic dog training

As the name implies, holistic training examines the “whole picture” to address the “parts” that may need fixing. In the case of dog training, it’s important to know that a dog’s behavior is influenced by many factors:

  • The dog’s environment
  • The dog’s diet
  • Quality and frequency of exercise
  • YOUR behavior

Taking these factors into consideration, Greg will work with YOU AND YOUR DOG where the misbehavior happens (your home, your yard, your neighborhood, etc.) and devise a plan for correcting his or her behavior. The plan will only require a few minutes of practice each day.

It’s no secret that people and dogs make wonderful companions. That’s why sharing a common “language” is a vital part of a healthy relationship with your dog. Greg will help you learn your dog’s language, enabling you to communicate with him or her in consistent, easily understood ways.