Why Do Puppies Bite?
Shiba Inu puppies have notoriously sharp, tiny needle teeth.
And when they chomp down on your fingers - it hurts!
Some dog owners may think this is aggression - but it's not.
All puppies have a developmental need to learn about the new world around them - and biting helps figure a lot of that out.
Playing with siblings teaches them where it's ok to bite and how much force to use.
Unfortunately for us humans, puppies also play with us by biting.
Our first instinct is to discipline the puppy or to try to train them to not bite at all.
But this approach although usually effective if done right - is actually outdated.
Puppy Bite Inhibition
In recent years, more and more experienced dog trainers have been promoting "bite-inhibition training."
Bite inhibition is a dog's ability to recognize how much force they should use, should they feel a need to bite.
This is extremely important with any dog breed, but Shiba Inus have a high prey drive and independent streak, making it even more so.
All dogs can bite, either out of fear, reactivity, frustration, or being over-stimulated at play time.
If a dog was taught from a very early age not to bite at all, they don't learn how much force is fine to use in these situations.
This is when bad accidents can happen. A dog that has learned good bite inhibition will likely not break skin or even bite down, if they should happen to lash out from fear, frustration, or pain.
So instead of completely training out puppy biting, what we now do instead is train for good bite inhibition, and train them to bite less.
This involves allowing for a degree of puppy mouthing, but as soon as it starts to hurt, we let them know.
How To Redirect Shiba Inu Puppy Biting
- Let Your Pup Know It Hurts!
Remember how puppies learn bite inhibition with other dogs through play? When training a Shiba Inu puppy, we use this same principle to let them know when things are getting too rough.
A lot of the time, puppies are just mouthing you in passing, or on accident as you're playing with them. If your Shiba starts to "focus" on chewing on your hands and gets rough, let out a distinct yelp.
The pup should stop biting and look at you. Reward and praise them immediately, but keep it brief and low-key.
Adding a marker such as a clicker or the word "yes" will also help you build a training foundation for learning other obedience later.
Shiba Inus thrive on positive reinforcement. Eventually your puppy will learn that play time continues if they are gentle, and that stopping when asked also makes good things happen (treats and praise).
Do not move quickly or jerk your hands away
This will only stimulate the prey drive of your Shiba Inu and make the "play time" keep going. If the puppy does not back off after a couple of yelps, stand up and turn away from it.
In dog language, this is a sign that the puppy has acted "offensively," and that their behavior is not ok.
If they are still wound up and come after you, a time-out for a few minutes should do the trick.
Another approach that you can do along with telling your puppy "ouch" is to redirect their attention to something more appropriate such as a chew toy.
This is especially useful when that cute Shiba Inu is biting your shoes, furniture, or idly chewing on your hand as you sit and watch TV.
When your puppy bites, let out the usual "yelp", followed by the toy alternative.
Eventually your Shiba will learn that there are better things to chew on than you or your house, and you might even curb the worst of their teething habits before they even begin.
With continued training, they will grow out of their mouthy stage eventually, so be patient!
Puppies love and crave attention at all times. You can use this to your training advantage.
When your pup bites you, simply cry "ouch" and turn away. By taking away something your puppy loves, they'll soon learn biting too hard is not a good thing.
After a few moments (depending on the puppy's age), return and resume play / cuddle time again - but this time with a toy they can chew on instead.
Socialization with your Shiba Inu puppy is more than just allowing them to play with other dogs. While that is important for continuing to learn "dog manners,"
Shiba Inus can be very aloof, which can translate to fear aggression when unsocialized.
Make sure to expose your Shiba Inu to lots of different situations and people between the ages of 8 and 14 weeks. This includes bringing in friends and family to work on your bite inhibition training.
This is a critical puppy socialization window, and meeting your Shiba's socialization needs during this time will make them a much more confident and well-behaved dog.
Remember, puppy biting is a normal process that happens in a dog's world.
It's up to you as a responsible dog owner to teach your puppy how to behave properly in the human world.
Be patient, but consistent.
If your puppy continues to bite and shows no improvement after following all of the recommended training methods then it may be time to consult with trained dog behavior specialist. It's much better to change bad behaviors early.
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