I had an email from someone who took home one of our pups. She was concerned about what appeared to be aggressive behaviour. In spite of having lots of chew toys, her puppy still tries to nip them. I responded that this is pretty normal behaviour for an eight week old puppy, and sent some information I found on line. You can read it HERE.
But the next day, I happened to be in the kennel area with the two puppies we still have, and their mom, Bitsy, decided to join us. She allowed the two puppies to nurse for a couple of minutes before deciding that was enough. But she didn't leave; she stayed around to visit, and I was able to observe how she dealt with them. When a puppy tried to nurse, she gave a little growl, then put her mouth right over his nose. Then she let go, and started licking him and being playful. She repeated this several times.
Today, the same thing happened, but I also saw her doing a little more. When a puppy got too rambunctious, she again used her mouth, but also her paws. She got him down on his back and held him there. She's firm, but gentle, clearly letting the pup know she's the boss.
I managed to capture some of this on video.
In this video she's being playful, but again, she puts the puppy in his place. It almost sounds like she is saying, "No!" when he tries to get up.
Nipping and chewing are definitely normal eight week old puppy behaviour, but they do need to be taught that toys are for chewing, not us! The best way to do this, is to do what Bitsy does...show them who's boss. When your puppy bites, you can gently, but firmly hold his nose and say, "No!" Then pet him and cuddle him to let him know you're not upset. When he gets too rambunctious, hold him down on his back, and make him stay there. You need to be the alpha dog, and he needs to submit to you. Then let him up and be playful. Repeat this as often as is necessary for him to get the message.
Having this extra time with just two puppies has been interesting. I'm starting to see the benefits of the puppies staying with the mother a little longer than eight weeks. However, those benefits might not be there if all six puppies were still here. In the past few days, Bitsy has been spending much more time in the pen with these two puppies than she was when they were all here. With just two, she's able to have more control, and to teach them. Maybe the reason Bitsy is such a good dog is because she was able to grow up here with her mother. Having an older dog around to show a pup the ropes is definitely helpful, and takes some of the training off the owners hands!
I hope this helps anyone who is dealing with a little nipper!