Do you have a question about training your dog? In our “Ask the Dog Trainer” column, expert trainer Colleen Safford answers reader questions about all aspects of dog training. Colleen is the founder of New York Walk & Train, named “Best of NY” by New York Magazine.
My 1-year-old Pomeranian likes to bite my feet as I walk. He’s just playing but it is annoying and it hurts. How can I make him stop?
That was an easy visual to create. A little Pom doing the happy dance; barking, play growling and engaging a mock battle with those socks and feet. While admittedly entertaining to envision, “OUCH” for the unwilling participant.
Your Pom needs an understanding of appropriate play behavior. I recently answered a question about a Boston Terrier puppy nibbler and the answer is very similar.
This is both play and attention seeking behavior. A few pointers to add onto the answer here:
- Stop your Pom before he starts! – The key to modern dog training is preventing undesired behaviors from being practiced while teaching our dogs what we expect of them in specific situations. So, you need to be a step ahead of your Pom (not physically, but mentally). You now likely can predict when this behavior is going to happen and or see the wheels start spinning in your little nutter. This is a good thing and something to use to your advantage.
- Train or ask for a replacement behavior – Think about what you’d like your dog to be doing instead. I’d say trotting nicely next to you, offering a sit or engaging with legal chew toys. Again, before your dog launches his mock attack on your feet, ask that he offer a nice sit and reinforce the behavior lavishly. Every few steps, walk, request a sit and reward. Your dog will soon learn that looking up at you and waiting for your request pays off!
- Buy your dog appropriate play outlets and offer those to him BEFORE he starts seam ripping your socks. Meaning, when you get up to walk, toss a toy for him to carry. When he chases and grabs it; praise him with “good toy” and even tug a bit on it with him.
Are you getting the theme here? PREVENT the behavior by predicting it and teach your pup new and legal behaviors!
See more articles by and about Colleen Safford on DogTipper.