First, teach your dog an appropriate alternative to mouthing, such as KISSES, which means licking, not biting; tongue, not teeth. Spread butter or another creamy spread on your hand and say KISSES as your dog licks it off.
Puppies under twelve weeks are very mouthy. Do not correct soft nipping until they are older. Teach them to inhibit their bite by shouting OUCH when they bite down too hard. Remember, too, that young dogs nip to communicate needs, similar to an infant's cry. Immediately consider their needs. Puppies nip the hardest when they need to sleep, play, or poop. Address the need, not the nipping.
Also, consider the games that might be encouraging your dog to nip. Are you playing tug of war? This game encourages confrontational interaction, as does rough wrestling. Reconsider your game options; refer to chapter 9.
When your dog is mouthing you, avoid pulling your body away and/or physically correcting her. Please don't trap her mouth shut or shove your fingers down her throat, either. Doing so is both cruel and generally ineffective; when it works, it's the result of fear, not understanding.
The goal is to teach your dog spatial and body respect. Practice EXCUSE ME (see page 81) throughout the day, and leave a short lead attached to your dog's collar at all times. When she nips you, grasp the lead to pull her away from you. Then instruct SIT, and then KISSES.
If pulling her off sharply is ineffective, try the spray-away correction. Without looking at or speaking to your dog, using either product listed on page 43, discreetly spray the body part your dog is nipping so that she is unsure where the reaction came from. After she pulls away, encourage her to give KISSES.
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