Updated: Mar 22, 2022
**Queue the Jaws theme song** So you've got a shark living with you!
Have no fear though - this stage won't last long ... IF you train properly!
This mix is a blend of Australian Shepherd and Poodle. Please remember when getting your puppy, Aussies were originally bred for herding. Even though they can have herding tendencies, this does not make them a bad family dog! (They are actually a great, loving family dog!!) Instead, you can turn those tendencies into something fun for your family. Many of these dogs love to run and chase, so getting a flirt pole or doing amateur agility can be extremely enriching for your pup.
But all that aside, let's get to the matter at hand. Biting, teething, pain...oh my!
Puppies are used to being with their furry siblings and teething is part of their playtime. They mouth each other and nip when things get too rough. While that's fine for puppy play, it's not acceptable in the human world. Of course this is not a habit you want to encourage when they're young, as it will only continue as they grow.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR PUPPY TO STOP USING YOU AS A CHEW TOY?
Every pup is different, so we will be giving you multiple tricks to try. You might succeed on the first attempt, others may need to try different techniques.
Pull your hand away and squeal "OW!". Very similar to how a puppy would sound if they got nipped too hard. Be sure to pull your hand back and fist it, as it's harder for their small mouths to go over a human hand in that shape. Don't pull upwards because that can be more enticing ("ooh I need to jump for that!").
Stern "no" as you remove your hand. Replace with a fun chew toy with a high-pitched, happy "yes"! (Extra note: "no" isn't always the best command. Introducing "leave it" or "ouch" or something that is quick and easy to say will be great for training here.)
Do NOT engage in rough play. This can be tempting and fun, but this leads to nipping and gnawing. If this is the only way you play together, they'll mature thinking that it's the ONLY way to play.
Try hand-feeding meals! You know the phrase "don't bite the hand that feeds you": puppies will typically follow that thought process. They will be able to make the distinction "hand = food = good".
Be FIRM. If things get too rough and the nipping starts getting crazy, stand up and walk away. Playtime is over. No touch, no talk, no eye contact with your puppy until they have calmed down. Cesar Millan preaches that phrase, and it really does work.
Grab your puppies scruff, this is the extra skin behind their head. For Bella, I would grab this and pull her (gently) back away from whatever she was trying to attack (shark bite). This, mixed with a sharp "ahh" type of noise, helped deter her from biting. Her mom, other dogs, littermates, would bite back if things got too rough. This was my version of that and this technique, along with some of the others above, helped us move through this stage without too many superficial bite marks :)
Many people in the "doodle/dog Facebook groups" will assure you - "don't worry, this will be over soon". While this is true you do need to work on this NOW so it doesn't become that forever problem.
In addition, nipping and biting, besides just during play, can also be a notice to you that your pup is overstimulated and/or tired. Calming down your dog mentally (not physically) will be super helpful. A frozen Kong or lick mat filled/covered with their favorite treat will be your best friend at this time.
Tasty Kong/lick mat options:
Peanut butter (no xylitol, listed under "Natural Sweetener - ones that use this ingredient are Go Nuts Co, Krush Nutrition, Nuts N' More, P28 Foods, Protein Plus PB)
Plain, non-fat yogurt
Canned pumpkin spread (only a little with this one!)
Wet their dry dog food and spread it around
Good chew foods:
Cold baby carrots. Bella LOVED cold baby carrots as she was teething. Bonus, they're healthy!
Here's Bella with a large carrot stuffed into her Kong toy. As you can see, she liked to nibble pieces off the large carrot before chewing.
Chewing other items they shouldn't? Rugs, shoes, leashes, etc.? Apple Bitters Spray for dogs can be an extremely helpful tool for you! Spray the area liberally on the areas they're chewing on. I have read about fixes other than Apple Bitters Spray (like a cayenne pepper/water mix), but I've never used them so I hesitate to speak more on that.
Finally, this is a great article about puppy teething, including a chart of the ages you'll see differences in your pup's mouth: https://blackhawkpetcare.com/nz/tips-and-guides/articles/puppy-teething
In the comments below, please let us know if any of these worked for you or if you have any questions! There are links in our "Recommendations" tab that will lead you to various toys and sprays!
And sooner than you know it, those shark puppy teeth will be gone and replaced by adult teeth! (Here's a funny photo of Bella mid-yawn with her gorgeous white adult teeth.)