Q & A: How do you stop playful chewing and biting?

The following question was posted on my post about Pit Bulls:

My dog play bites - what can I do?

Question: I have a boxer pit bull mix and she is wonderful and very loveable but I am having trouble getting her to listen and house train. She will be 6 months in December. She loves to chew and bite only in playing but when you just want to pet and love her she wants to bite and chew, any suggestions!!!!! We love her!!!
LeAnn B.

Answer: Try to view your dog this way…

Bully breeds like Boxers and Pit Bulls are very sensitive. The same part of them that makes them sensitive also makes them VERY affectionate. Affection is a good thing but if that’s what the entire relationship is based on it can lead to problems like chewing or going to the bathroom in the house. Dogs don’t think in terms of good and bad—in a dog’s mind 100% affection with few rules or boundaries makes them feel entitled. With entitlement comes the right to do whatever they want.

Strengthen your authority

It’s not that you’re doing something wrong when your dog chews that makes her continue doing it. It’s that when you tell her to stop chewing she simply doesn’t care enough about your authority to listen. Remember that doesn’t make either you or her bad!!! It just makes you both misguided. The key is basic training—teaching words like ‘sit’ and then finding ways to use it to give your dog some direction. This will strengthen your authority.

The behaviors like chewing, mouthing, etc. will begin to vanish with your strengthened authority and a clearer relationship—where your dog views you as a leader, rather than as another dog.

Give affection only when your dog is calm

Since Boxers and Pits thrive on affection, it can be a very strong motivator. For instance, petting her when she’s all hyped-up and mouthing you may cause her to view acting like that as a way to get the affection she wants. Instead, try to wait until she calms down to show her that affection and she’ll eventually catch on. Good luck!

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