YOUR DOGUE DE BORDEAUX & PLAY BITING
Did you know that boys between the ages of 5 to 9 are bitten by dogs more than any other group of people? 5 times more, to be exact. Why? Because they’re boisterous, aggressive, and seething with energy. In other words, they act a lot like young dogs, and young dogs bite each other when they play.
As we all know, animals play much rougher than people do. This isn’t so much of a problem when they’re playing among themselves. They have thick fur that protects them from each other’s teeth. People, on the other hand, have vulnerable, hairless, soft skin. Adult dogs seem to understand this, but puppies don’t. It is easy for them to get carried away and forget who they are playing with.
Dogues de Bordeaux from 2 months to 2 years old do the most play biting. Like humans teenagers, they have more energy and A LOT more strength than judgment. Plus, they’re constantly testing boundaries. Even if your Dogue de Bordeaux knows he is not supposed to bite, he will still try just to see what happens.
Typically, a Dogue de Bordeaux pup will play bite when there are people running around and getting worked up. Once he is sufficiently stimulated, caught up in the camaraderie and competition, he can forget all good manners and do naughty things like jumping on people, knocking over lamps, and biting.
That’s How My Mama Raised Me
Puppies begin their good manners training while still in the whelping box. Mom and the other puppies in the litter have a very effective way of discouraging bites. They bite back! And harder! It doesn’t take the pup long to learn that biting invariably invites stronger bites in return. By the time they are 8 weeks old, most pups have learned that biting their elders and playmates is a bad idea, even when playing. Most of them carry this knowledge into their human families.
Any training your Dogue de Bordeaux puppy receives while he is with us can easily be reversed if you allow him to get away with bad behaviors such as:
Mouthing ANY part of your body at ANY time (even if he is being gentle)
Biting your clothes during play
Playing with your puppy when he is being aggressive, growling, or even when he’s simply excited
Giving affection (physical or verbal) when your puppy is overexcited
Playing rough with your puppy
These behaviors left unchecked WILL lead to big problems down the road. The number one thing you can do to prevent play biting and subsequent behavior problems is to TEACH YOUR DOGUE DE BORDEAUX TO BE GENTLE!
Set Clear Boundaries
From day ONE you must establish a firm no mouthing policy for your puppy. Absolutely no mouth on ANY part of ANY human should EVER be tolerated from your Dogue de Bordeaux! Many new owners think it adorable when their new fur baby gnaws on their hands or chases their feet. It only takes a couple of months for that behavior to go from cute to dangerous. And at that point it is an extremely difficult habit for an owner to break because if you allow your puppy to think that he can chew on you, you have become lower than him in the pack order. Not to mention, he will assume it is acceptable to treat all humans that way. Even small children. A teething puppy can be difficult to deal with and that’s often when we see this behavior surface.
During play, if your Dogue de Bordeaux gets progressively mouthier and mouthier, he will eventually clamp down. Parents of young children should teach the kids the appropriate way to play with their Dogue de Bordeaux. Young children should not be left alone with their Dogue de Bordeaux. This is for the dog’s protection. Never allow your child to be rough and heavy handed, which in effect is abuse. Your Dogue de Bordeaux may bite if he has had ENOUGH.
So what should I do if my puppy starts play biting and nipping? Here’s the thing, different puppies respond well to different methods of training and correction. Just like human children. It is not always one size fits all. Some puppies are very sensitive to just a sound and the tone of your voice. Others are very bull headed. Therefore, if one thing doesn’t work, you need to try another. A combination of methods may be effective.
Talk Like Mom
Since Dogues de Bordeaux tend to bite when they’re acting childish, you can often stop them by acting mother-ish. Give a low, authoritative growl “GRRRR”. Dogs hear this sound a lot when they’re puppies. They take Mom’s threats seriously, and memories of her warnings stay with them. Growls get their attention and make them think twice about what they’re doing. This method works especially well with very young Dogues.
The key is to communicate with them in a way that they can understand. To do that we look at how puppies interact with their litter mates and their mother. If a puppy bites his litter mate too hard, the litter mate yelps loudly. That is a signal for the puppy that he went too far. That is how they learn bite inhibition. And it usually works. So that’s another thing you can try. Yelp like a puppy when he bites you. If he backs off, praise him. Puppies do not understand ‘time out’!
Turn Your Back
When your puppy starts biting/nipping immediately stop playing with him and ignore him. Get up and walk away. If he is in a very excited state of mind, he may try to chase you and bite at your feet. If that happens, STOP, stand still, turn your back to him and cross your arms. Once he calms down and occupies himself with something else you can go to him and praise him. Play biting is often preceded by regular play combined with growing excitement. You should never play with, give attention, or encourage an overly excited puppy. Period. We want to teach our puppy to be CALM at all times. Do not reinforce excitement. If you want to communicate to your Dogue de Bordeaux that you don’t approve of the way he is playing, STOP MOVING, extricate whatever part of you he has in his mouth, and turn your back to him. This signal is read loud and clear by your dog that you are unhappy and will not play if he continues that behavior.
Redirection is where you offer the puppy an object to direct his attention and mouth away from YOU. Offer a toy that he is allowed to put in his mouth. Praise him if he leaves you alone and chews on the toy.
Play At Your Level NOT His
Dogs love it when humans crouch down on the ground to play with them on their level. They go absolutely bonkers for it! However, Dogues de Bordeaux are a dominant breed, even as puppies. Seeing a person on all fours may make them think they’re dealing with an equal, one whom it’s perfectly acceptable to play bite.
On the other hand, dogs have a natural respect for height. Keeping your head and shoulders higher than your Dogue’s will help him understand you are the one he needs to respect.
A Good Offense Is The Best Defense
If you make it a point to communicate the rules to your puppy from the very first day, you will save both yourself and your puppy much frustration and headache down the road.
Of course, a good offense is the best defense! We all know a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy. Obviously, you must monitor how much exercise your puppy gets, but a puppy can tire himself out from mental stimulation just as much as from physical activity. Look into puppy puzzle games, YouTube how to train your puppy to do tricks using a clicker, anything that will engage his mind and tire him out.