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72–75 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

Five Steps for Making Your Puppy's First Dental Cleaning a Success :: Checking Your Puppy For Benign or Dangerous Lumps :: How to Stop Your Puppy from Licking or Mouthing You :: What to Do If Your Puppy is Sleeping Too Much

How to Stop Your Puppy from Licking or Mouthing You

Have you ever been talking to someone while out walking your puppy and suddenly been distracted by an insistent licking of your hand? Perhaps you push your puppy's mouth away but he only makes a comeback, this time mouthing your whole fist. Lickers or mouthers often start out with the occasional slobbering of the hand. But this seeming innocuous habit can advance to a chronic habit. There are several reasons that puppies this age do this.

It's not often associated with teeth problems as it is with young puppies. Instead, your puppy may be mouthing or licking you as a sign of affection or of dominance or they may be mimicking wild behavior. In the wild, dogs mouth each each other when playing. Dogs lick each others faces as a sign of respect. And as newborns, they lick their mother's face to regurgitate food. If that's not gross enough, consider that many dogs eat nasty things outside, including feces, and you'll see why stopping this behavior is preferable.

Stopping the Mouthing and Licking

Mouthing - Mouthing is a scary behavior to anyone who does not know your puppy well. It can be mistaken for biting which poses a threat to your puppy's safety. It is often a sign of dominance and can lead to other dominant behaviors if you let it go. Since mouthing and licking are habits, the trick is to break the habit. Don't be afraid to be very firm when training.

  1. Pretend to Be Hurt - Say "Ouch!" and pretend to cry (really, it works). Most dogs can pick up on a human's suffering and will switch into nurturing mode.

  2. Carry a Toy Around - Keep a toy with you and every time your pup goes for your hand say "No Mouth!" and stick the toy in it. Then praise him.

  3. Use a Deterrent - Lightly spray something like Apple Bitter on your hand. When your puppy tastes this, he will be deterred. Again, say "No!" when he touches your hand and praise him when he leaves it.

Licking - Licking is a bit more complicated because there are several reasons for it. Your puppy may be trying to get your attention, he may be expressing affection, he may be attracted to a cream or lotion you use, or he may think you like it. Stopping this behavior should be done more gently than mouthing since your puppy is not trying to assert dominance.

  1. Attention Grabber - Teach your dog that a trick like sitting will always get your attention. This means you have to praise him when he sits for you every time.

  2. Overly Affectionate - Your puppy is more likely to get into licking mode when he's excited, especially when you come home. Remain calm when entering, do not squat down to his level and reward him when he calms down.

  3. Lotion Lover - Try using a different hand or face cream, preferably one without scent.

  4. Clown - If you laugh and shriek every time your puppy licks you, you're just encouraging him. Instead, push him away and say "Quiet." Reward him when he doesn't come back for more.

When a puppy goes through his nipping phase, many of us train them to lick instead. This is usually helpful then but tells a dog that licking people is a good thing. You can reverse this by using the techniques mentioned and when you get another puppy someday you might consider a different approach to the nipping training.

If training and trickery don't work, consider taking your pup to the vet for a check-up just in case it is tooth or gum trouble or a sign of a larger problem such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And, while training him, reassure your friends that he doesn't really want to eat them.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Start Training Your Puppy Right Away

Even though the old saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," in reality you can start training a dog at any age - if the dog is nine weeks, nine months, or nine years old.

Even if you bring home a very young puppy, training and working on wanted behaviors starts immediately after the dog comes home with you. You would start teaching the dog to recognize her name and get her used to a set schedule of when you go outside, when she's fed, when it's time for walks and when it's time for bed time. Even playtime can be training - you're teaching her what she can and cannot play with, not to bite your hands, and rules for your games (such as, when you bite me, the game ends).

Formal training, such as sit, down, and come, can be started at a very young age as well. It's never too early to "shape" behaviors using positive rewards. A good time to enroll into a class is around 6 months old - puppy class.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Dealing with a Puppy That Chews Everything in Sight

Try offering your puppy a variety of chew toys. Notice the texture and softness of what he usually chooses to chew on (that he's not supposed to chew on) and try to pick a toy with that texture and softness. But don't get any toys shaped like any of the inappropriate items he chews. Dogs don't know the different between a chew toy shaped like a shoe and a real shoe.

Also, redirect the behavior. It's very simple to do this. All you need to do is when you see him chewing inappropriate items, show him the chew toy and encourage him to chew that instead. Praise and richly reward him for chewing the right things. Whenever he chews the wrong things, just redirect.

~Tiffany C., owner of Papillon mix

Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy

The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.

We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!

If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.

~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever

Training Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

My trainer told me that puppies can usually hold it longer during the night, when they are sleeping.

If your pup is waking up and crying to go out at night, you might try pushing her potty breaks back a little. If she normally wakes up at 12, wait an hour, then take her out at 1. If shes fine with that, push it back another hour, til 2, and so on. That's what I did with my dog and it worked well and quickly. Instead of taking her out at 5, I'd wait til 5:30. Then 6, then 6:30, etc. She was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks or so (but I'm sure every pup is different).

~Dana S., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer

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