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How to Stop Puppy Biting using the "Ouch" Method

One of the most popular Methods to stop play biting that is being circulated today is the act of yelling “Ouch” while your puppy is biting you.

Many puppy owners, trainers, breeders, and veterinarians will tell you that you should simply yell “Ouch” and your puppy will stop biting you. This method is often said to work because puppies squeal in a high pitch voice when another puppy bites them too hard causing one puppy to squeal and the other puppy to let go.

If you watch puppies interact with each other, at some point you will probably witness a puppy squeal and the other puppy stop biting temporarily. However, the squeal does not tell the other puppy never to bite them again. In fact, puppies will usually resume play by biting each other just a few seconds right after one of them squeals. Puppies learn how to adjust the force of their bite during play, but they don't stop biting all together.

To get the most benefit from this method, you should take a training approach rather than attempting to act like another puppy.

Here is the most effective way to use the “Ouch” method.

First, you need to understand that the act of yelling “Ouch” is used to mark the behavior (biting) that you are attempting to extinguish.  You have to make the word have meaning to the puppy by showing them that there is a specific action following the marker word, “Ouch”. You could say anything you prefer, trust me the puppy does not have an innate understanding of the English language. You have to make words have meaning.  Adding a short period of isolation right after the word is spoken is how you make the word “Ouch” have a negative association. Words have to predict action on your part in order to have meaning to your dog.

This is where the implementation of an effective timeout comes into play. I say effective because many owners implement the time out in a way that a child can understand rather than a puppy.  You have to say the marker word, “Ouch”, the very instant the puppy bites you.

Here is exactly how to implement the time out for play biting

  1. Decide on what your time out location will be. A play pen with no toys inside or a tether location usually makes a suitable time out location.
  2. As soon as your puppy bites you, yell the marker word “Ouch “that signals to the puppy that they will be taken to a location where they will be left alone. This is how you make the “Ouch” have meaning. You must say the word immediately when the puppy’s teeth make contact with your skin and then immediately take the puppy to the time out location. Timing is crucial here. You can explain to a child what they did that earns them punishment, but you cannot explain it to a puppy after the fact.
  3. Leave your puppy in the time out location for approximately 90 seconds and then bring your puppy out again. If they bite you, then you will immediately implement the time out once again. You must be %100 consistent for repeated incidences for this method to start having an impact on deterring the biting.

If your puppy seems completely comfortable in the time out location, then you need to change up the location for the time out.  Time outs must be unwanted to be effective.

The only way yelling “Ouch” will work without the accompaniment of the time out, is if simply the act of yelling “Ouch” is aversive enough on its own to stop the puppy’s desire to bite. Some puppies that are very sensitive to their owner’s voice may stop with just a loud voice. This is not because your puppy thinks you are another puppy, it is because yelling “Ouch” is an unwanted behavior from you and the puppy learns how to avoid making you raise your voice.

Many puppies, or perhaps most puppies will continue to bite their owner even if they yell “Ouch” or “No” because the puppy simply finds biting more rewarding then not biting, even when you raise your voice. This is when you have to take other measures such as the time out described above or the redirect method which you will find in my other articles. I also have a video tutorial on play biting in the member’s area where you can see exactly how the redirect method works.

You may also like this article: 7 Tips to Stop Puppy Biting

Published on July 23, 2017

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