Why Puppies Bite and How to Stop It

When you bring home a new puppy, you’ll be overcome by its adorable melting eyes and small wiggly body. Most people get swept away by their puppy’s cute and snuggly nature. But after a few weeks, something strange starts to happen, your puppy starts biting you!

Oh no, did you do something wrong? Was he separated from his mother too soon and is now lashing out? Have you not show her enough love and attention? The answer is “none of the above.”

Puppy biting is entirely normal and natural. Dogs and puppies use their mouths to interact with their environment since they don’t have fingers like humans do. Puppies are adorable little descendants of wolves, and their teeth are what they use to explore the world around them. Their teeth were once used as weapons, and they must use them to learn what they can and cannot do. So while it may be startling when this behavior first starts, it is in no way a reflection of your puppy parenting skills.

Why Do Puppies Bite When They Play?

Puppies love to play-bite, and it’s their way of investigating. When puppies play with one another, they can learn about their strengths and what they can do with their teeth and jaws. Puppies have sharp puppy teeth that they use to learn their abilities and then learn to constrain their force of bite before their dog teeth grow in. Then, as they grow, they will have a safe tool to eat, and solve conflicts with if necessary.

Puppies are not like children. You would never hand a toddler a sharp object and say “Now be careful with that Timmy. You could hurt yourself or someone else.” You would most likely wait until the child is older before trusting them with a potentially dangerous item. But puppies come into their own type of dangerous special items very early in life. Puppies need to learn from the very beginning how they can and cannot use these natural weapons.

When Do Puppies Stop Biting?

Puppies stop biting when they are taught that human skin is sensitive. Sound too simple to be true? Well, it is a bit harder than that. Bite inhibiting behaviors can be taught by a human or by playing with other dogs. Bite inhibition and bite training is a part of puppy behavioral development. It can go along naturally with house and trick training, but the most important lessons will be taught to your puppy from its brothers and sisters while still with their litter.

By socializing and nursing, your dog will learn bite inhibition. Puppies will play bite and discover that their teeth hurt by yelping and discontinuing play. When puppies nurse, their mother will teach them bite inhibition by walking away after being bitten.

As they grow and learn what their teeth and jaws are capable of, they can learn to control their biting for what they need to do. When puppies are taught that play biting is ok, they will continue to do it. But, if they are taught that any kind of bite hurts and/or is not nice, they will stop. Dr. Dunbar believes that bite inhibition is one of the most important things a dog can learn. Bite inhibition can be taught in 3 months to a newborn puppy, and it should ideally be reinforced throughout their lives.

How to Get Your Puppy to Stop Biting

During socialization, if nipping or biting occurs, playtime often stops. Training your puppy to know that playtime is over if biting happens is a good way to teach bite inhibition. If biting happens, it is best to say, “Ow!” in a sharp and high pitch, mimicking the sound of their brother and sisters yelping. Then, pull your hands away and look away, or even walk away, reinforcing that if biting happens, playtime ends. Read this very useful article by Dr. Nick Dodman on Nipping and Mouthing of Pups.

It is important to understand that as bite inhibition training begins, the first step is to teach them to inhibit the force of their bite. If the puppy is taught to never put his mouth on you, then when it does, he won’t know his strength or that your skin is fragile. As you practice, the puppy will use a smaller amount of pressure each time, and it will become less frequent over time.

More Tips on Raising a Puppy

A lot of work goes into raising a puppy. You’re probably full of questions about what you should and should not do with your new puppy; so we’ve compiled some of our most popular beginner puppy articles to get you started:

These articles are just a starting point. Just like with raising a human child, you’ll never be done learning when it comes to raising your puppy. We hope that we’ve helped you to understand more about puppy biting, why it happens, and how to stop it. Make sure you check out our puppy archive to stay up to date on all of our latest puppy tips and tricks.

Tiny Hunters: 5 Traits Your Cat Shares with Its Wilder Brothers

Whenever you watch your feline in action, you probably notice that it looks a lot like a miniature wildcat. Conversely, when you see a lion or cougar grooming itself on television or at the zoo, it reminds you of your pet’s behavior. According to research from the Washington University School of Medicine, cats are still not considered fully domesticated even though they have lived among humans for thousands of years. There’s still some wildness in your sweet, purring kitty.  So just how much does your tabby have in common with a full-grown tiger?

They Exhibit Butting Behavior

Your housetrained feline has the same body language as her cat ancestors. One trait that you’re probably familiar with is head butting. You come home after a long day, and your kitten appears at the front door, doing figure-eights around your feet and shoving its head into your shins. You might also notice your pet doing this to furniture, door frames, and walls.

Cats have a lot of scent glands on their faces. When they rub their foreheads and chins against an object, they deposit some of their scent onto that item. If they do it to you, they’re telling you that they have a special connection with you. They’re also trying to exhibit alpha cat behavior and say that they own you.

According to Feline Docs, cats also learn at an early age that this kind of touch is comforting. As their mothers groom them, they experience the sensation of pressure along their heads and faces. This feels good, and cats in the wild will rub their faces against other members of their pride in a friendly manner. Your own cat probably purrs and gets excited when she does this to you. She is showing you affection while simultaneously asking for a little love.

They Mark Their Territory

Cats have a few ways to mark their territory. Rubbing their faces on things in their home is fairly innocent. Spraying urine or scratching furniture can be a little more irritating. However, these cat habits come from your pet’s wild cat relatives.

The Humane Society reports that scent is a major medium of communication for cats. In the wild, most types of cats roam alone. To protect themselves, they have to show the other animals who’s boss. A leopard may scratch a tree to leave its scent and warn another big cat of its prowess. If the visiting cat can’t scratch as high, it might realize that it’s walking into the territory of a potential threat.

Big cats may also squirt horizontal jets of urine to leave their mark. They may mark large areas their home. Because they can’t patrol every inch of their environment, they spray throughout the region to let other cats know that they’ve recently been there. Tigers might spray their territory every three minutes or so.

When your housecat sprays to mark its territory, it might be trying to tell you that it’s stressed out. Delineating its boundaries can give an anxious cat a sense of security. If you bring home a new baby or pet, leave the cat alone for too long, or invite another feline into your yard, your cat may start spraying to soothe her nerves. Spraying can also be a sign of a medical issue in a housecat. If you’re not sure why your cat is stinking up your house with spray, you might want to take her to the vet.

They Vocalize

All types of cats make different sounds. You may even notice that your housecat makes a guttural moan when she’s watching another cat out the window. However, she may chatter at a squirrel and meow like a siren when she wants food. Big cats in the wild vocalize too.

Why doesn’t your cat roar like a lion? Well, only the larger cats in the Felidae family roar. These are part of a sub-family called Pantherinae and include tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards. Your pet is part of the sub-family Felinae. It can make lots of different sounds, including a purr, but sadly cannot roar.

Although experts aren’t sure what allows cats to roar or purr, they think it has to do with the hyoid bone in the cats’ throats. This bone is flexible in larger cats and lets them build up a deep, roaring sound. The shape of large cats’ vocal chords lets them make big sounds with limited air flow. In a housecat, the hyoid bone is stiff. This fact, combined with the shape of your pet’s vocal chords, allows it to make a vibrating sound when it breathes.

How Can That Be Comfortable: How Cats Can Sleep in Such Weird Positions

Sometimes, you wonder if your cat is really made of some kind of gummy material instead of skin and bones. Is his brain also made of mush? Otherwise, how can it be comfortable for kitties to sleep in such strange positions? Justsomething’s 37 Funniest Photos of Cats Sleeping in The Most Awkward Positions sums up the phenomenon pretty well. Pictured in the article are cats draped across metal luggage racks, tucked into UGG boots, balanced on bed posts, and lounging on other animals.

Is Your Cat Trying To Tell You Something?

Although you’ll never truly know what’s going through your cat’s mind, you can hazard a guess by some of her body language. According to Vet Street, when your furry feline is awake, you can gauge her mood by her tail. A tail that’s held high and curls smoothly back and forth is a sign of a happy cat. A twitchy tail indicates interest. If your cat is holding her tail low or between her legs, she might be frightened or sick. When her tail puffs out like a Halloween cat, she’s especially terrified.

When your kitty is sleeping, her tail might still wag and twitch. This tends to mean that she’s feeling at ease. A happy tail combined with a cat lying on its back is an indicator that your pet completely trusts you. When you come across her lying like this, you might think it’s one of the strangest cat sleeping positions, but what it means is that your feline doesn’t feel the need to protect her belly, which is one of her most vulnerable areas. But be careful. She—or you—might be in for an unhappy surprise if you try to snuggle that fuzzy tummy while the cat’s asleep.

A cat that lies curled up may have gotten one too many raspberries blown onto her unsuspecting stomach while sleeping. In truth, curling up can be an instinctual defense against predators. This position makes animals feel secure. It can also help them regulate their body temperature. However, cats that sleep in tight balls may be too tense to get restful sleep. You can help your cat feel more secure by providing her with a cozy bed into which she can nestle while relaxing her muscles.

Have you ever seen your cat lying with back legs out? You can think of this as the froggy splat. This is one of those weird cat positions that must just be relaxing. Although it doesn’t look so comfortable to us, cats have more limber spines than we do. They can contort their bodies in ways that we just don’t understand.

The most common cat sleeping position is probably the kitty loaf. When your pet sleeps like this, she is lying lengthwise on her belly with her paws tucked up under her. Her head might be perched upright or resting on something. You might wonder how a cat can keep her head looking so alert when she’s asleep. It’s because she’s really plotting to take over the world.

Don’t be alarmed if you find your cat sleeping with it’s head down. Sometimes, you wonder how your cat can breathe in her strange sleeping positions. Well, a kitty can’t always be plotting. Sometimes she has to sleep deeply. If your cat is pressing her head on walls and other flat surfaces while she’s awake, this could be cause for concern. Head pressing, the compulsive act of pushing the head firmly against an object for no apparent reason, can be a sign of a medical condition, according to Purrfect Love. This is different than the normal head butting that your cat might do when she’s purring and excited, though.

Why Do Cats Like To Sleep On Things?

Cats have quirky sleep behavior. If you’ve ever tried to read the newspaper or finish up some homework when your cat is around, you have probably ended up with a purring feline in front of your face. Cats will sleep on your laundry, mousepad, purse, and towels. They might even try to curl up on a cutting board that you leave out on the counter. That’s dangerous, kitty.

In some cases, they do this to be closer to you. They know they can squeeze out some extra snuggles this way. They may also do this because your scent is lingering on the clothing, towels, or bags. Your scent on those items tells your pet that they’ll be safe there if they curl up and close their eyes. You’ll protect them.

Is This Normal? You’re Quick Kitty Reference Guide

Let’s be honest; cats can be weird. They’re seemingly boneless balls of fluff that are constantly trying to decide if they want to be pet or not. Cat’s can do some weird behaviors to the point that you’ve probably found yourself wondering “Is this normal?” at least once a week.


Yup, you read that right – cats can drool! After a long snuggling session, you may look down to find that your sweater has a new wet spot courtesy of a very happy cat. Cats can drool for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad. A good rule of thumb is the thumb rule. If the wet spot made from your cat drooling is larger than your thumb than you may want to consult your vet. Common causes of drooling in cats can include Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus (herpes), cancer, dental disease, fear, or trauma. But as mentioned earlier, drooling can be a sign of happiness – either they love how you are petting them, or they’ve found the perfect sleeping spot.


While more common in dogs than in cats, some cats can snore. According to our vet expert Dr. Debra, some breeds tend to snore more, such as Persians, because their nostrils are very small, causing tissue movement when they breathe, which leads to snoring. Some cats will snore if they are obese or if they have an obstruction due to a sinus obstruction, are suffering from allergies, or a have a polyp. To be on the safe side Dr. Debra recommends that you have your cat examined by a vet if your cat’s snoring is persistent.

Sleeping in weird positions

Cats can sleep up to 16 hours a day! Nobody's quite sure why cats sleep so much. Cats evolved from predators and hunters and have maintained their crepuscular nature – meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. A cat’s diet can play a large role in a cat’s sleeping pattern; the better the diet, the more natural the sleep pattern. Today’s average house cat is also prone to sleeping out of boredom. A cat’s spine can rotate more than most other animals; this allows for them to get into some pretty odd sleeping positions. So if you find your cat hanging upside down off a table while sleeping, that’s perfectly normal.

Licking Plastic Bags

Another very odd quirk: licking plastic bags. There’s no conclusive reason as to why cats lick plastic bags, but our vets have come up with many compelling theories. One of the most obvious answers to the great plastic bag debate is the theory that plastic bags absorb the smells of the items that which they contained.

Some believe that cats will lick plastic bags because the sound created mimics that of rodents running through leaves and grass. On a more concerning note, your cat could be licking bags due to pica. Pica is the term used when animals eat non-food materials. Common materials include plastic bags, wool, fleece, and stuffed animals. Dogs more commonly suffer from pica than cats, but cats are still susceptible.

Eating Grass

Once again we turn to our veterinarian expert Dr. Debra. Dr. Debra has this to say about cats eating grass. “One explanation for cat's desire to eat grass is that in their wild hunting days they normally ate the entire animal when they caught it. Many of their "kills" were herbivores (plant eaters), and cats ended up eating a lot of grass and plants that were in the stomachs and intestines of these animals.” Dr. Debora says that is your cat is getting a good quality balanced diet, is active, having normal urine and bowel movements, and is not vomiting, then eating grass is just fine.


Carrying Food from their bowl

Has this ever happened to you; you fill your cat’s bowl with yummy food and then put it down for him to eat only to watch your cat stick his paw in the food bowl, drag some food out, and then run away with it. So what’s up with that? Well, there are a couple of reasons why your cat could be performing this strange behavior. When your cat was little it jockeyed with its brothers and sisters to get the best position for feeding time; sometimes these instincts can carry over into adulthood. Once your cat has secured his food, he may wish to run away with it to find what he thinks is the best location to eat it in.

Plastic Bags and Cats: A Love Affair

Paper or plastic? If you asked a cat, they would say plastic 90% of the time (the missing 10% is because the appeal of hiding in a paper bag should not be underestimated). Have you ever set your groceries down only to come back to a kitchen that has been transformed into the meeting place for all of the plastic bag lovers in your home? The sound of little sandpaper tongues sliding along sleek plastic fills the air as you think to yourself “What is going on.”

The good news: your cat is not crazy. Plastic bag licking is a common habit among cats. The bad news: there’s no definite answer as to why cats lick plastic bags. But have no fear, our collections of vets have come together to create a list of the most likely reasons why cats lick plastic bags.

Food Smells

Perhaps the most obvious answer to the great plastic bag licking debate could be: because they smell good! Yes, we are serious. Plastic bags are traditionally composed of ethylene or ethene polymers and are made of one of three basic types of plastic: high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), or linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). Grocery bags are traditionally made of HDPE. HDPE is incredibly absorbent which allows for the plastic grocery bags we use while shopping to absorb the smells of the objects that they carry. Don’t believe us? Try placing a rotisserie chicken in a bag for 20 minutes and then removing it and placing that plastic bag somewhere your cat can get it. We bet that your cat will probably wander over and give it a lick within 10 minutes.


Plastic bags are often treated with something called stearates. Stearates is a salt of ester of stearic acid. Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid that can be found in animals, vegetables, and oils. Stearic acid is white and has the ability to float on water. Stearic acid has been verified to be of low concern based on experimental and modeled data provided by the EPA. Additionally stearic acid is nontoxic. This fatty acid can taste exquisite to your kitty.


Many believe, our vets included, that cats lick plastic bags because the created sound sounds like little rodents. To be more precise, our vets believe that this sound mimics the unique sound of rodents scurrying in leaves or grass. This action is similar to that of you playing ambient sounds such as thunderstorms or rain that you find calming and evoke positive feelings. The thought of catching some mice evokes positive feelings for cats.

Corn Starch

Plastic bags are undeniably bad for our planet. Standard plastic bags are not biodegradable, plus, tens of thousands of whales, birds, and turtles are killed every year from plastic bag litter. With the amount of plastic in our landfills and oceans growing by the day, scientists have been searching for a plastic bag alternative for years. Enter corn plastic. Corn plastic, also known as PLA, has been adopted by some big names like Wal-Mart. Corn plastic is as the name implies made of corn – usually, a variation called Number 2 Yellow Dent that is traditionally used to feed animals. Your cat probably doesn’t care if you’re for or against corn plastic, she just likes it when you bring home plastic bags from Wal-Mart because they taste good.



Pica is a term used for the behavior of eating non-food materials. Pica can happen to any cat and is sometimes seen more frequently in cats who were weaned too early. Some cats with pica will suck on items whereas others will eat items completely. Most commonly, cats with pica suck on soft items like wool, fleece, or stuffed animals, but some cats do focus on other items like plastic grocery bags. Pica can be caused by a multitude of avenues; if you suspect that your cat is suffering from pica talk to your vet today.

Animal Fat

Most plastic bags are made with slip agents to reduce the friction in the material; these slip agents are often made of beef tallow. Tallow is very nutrient dense because it contains conjugated linoleic acid, antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re wondering what tallow is, the Ultimate Paleo Guide provides an excellent comparison. “Pork is to lard as beef is to tallow.” So your cat may be licking your plastic bags for that yummy beef fat.

Why Do Cats Climb Trees?

Saving a cat stuck in a tree has become a common trope of proving that you’re a hero, but have you ever wondered why do cats climb trees in the first place?

It’s no secret that cats love to climb. That’s why you can buy “cat trees” at the pet store to keep your feline friend entertained and occupied. While it may not seem weird to see your cat climb to the top of your cabinets, watching your cat scale a tree can seem surreal. Why do they want to go up there anyway?

Cats have the ability to climb very high, whether we want them to or not. Their bodies are built for climbing, for example, and their strong backs and hind legs are what enables them to propel themselves up a trunk and to a perch on a sturdy branch.

Wild cats love to perch in trees, so it’s only natural that your kitty loves to climb as well. Another answer to why cats climb trees is that the branches are a good spot to watch for prey. Larger animals can still prey on cats, so blending into the treetops is an excellent defense.

Why Do Cats Climb Trees?

For your cat, figuring out why cats climb trees is a little different. While their ancestors in the wild live within them, and the drive to climb is still prevalent, there might not necessarily be large predators on the prowl for a meal that features your kitty as the main course. For a neighborhood feline, tree branches do provide a good hiding spot from dogs or other people that the cat may be frightened by. Cats also love to climb in order to better survey their surroundings. For a cat that spends a lot of her time outside, climbing a tree might be the best option to be able to see what’s going on around her.

If you have a curious kitten, climbing trees is the perfect way to test out her skills. You might find her working hard to scale a tree trunk if you let her outdoors. No matter how old your cat is, practicing climbing is good for their health. Climbing improves their strength and flexibility, and can also add a key defense skill to their list of abilities.

Not much gets past your cat, and if you have a lot of trees in your yard, the opportunity to chase critters back into their homes can be too much to resist for cats. Birds or animals living in the tree can often draw a cat into the branches. The thought of the chase is too enticing for your cat to stay on the ground, and it can lead to your cat going on an adventure into the treetops.

Unfortunately for you, the chase can often lead to you having to find a way to get your cat down. While cat’s are experienced and easily able to climb up, getting down is a different story. Cat’s claws grow inward, making it almost impossible for them to grip the tree trunk and climb down head first. The way their bodies are built also prevents them from being able to get down easily. If your cat isn’t at a high level, she may find that she can reach the ground with a graceful leap, but if she’s too high she could find herself in a predicament.

Don’t worry too much if you see your cat stuck up high. Unless she’s injured or seriously stuck at the top of a tree, your cat is smart enough to figure out that she can shimmy down backwards. However if she’s taking her time deciding to come down you can always get a ladder to bring her down. Use a board or another branch to give your cat something to climb down on. If coaxing isn’t getting her to move you can use a broom and a towel to force her out of the tree and into your arms. You can even try using a cat carrier to see if your cat will climb inside and then you can lower her down.

If you want to keep your cat out of the trees, it’s best to keep her indoors. In order to satisfy her climbing desires, you can purchase a cat tree to help her get out all her urges. Cat trees come in all sizes, from elaborate castles to a simple tower, you can find something that your cat will definitely enjoy. A cat tree can also keep your cat off of other parts of your home like the back of the couch or the curtains. Worry less about what your cat is getting into with the perfect cat tree and keep her entertained all day long without the dangers of the outdoors.

Dog to Dog Communication

Ever Wonder How Dogs Talk?

Without a sound, two properly socialized dogs meeting for the first time can size each other up in just a few moments. An exchange of glances can tell each canine if they’re going to be friends or enemies. It’s how dogs talk.

How can dogs do this without a sophisticated verbal language? With facial expressions, body language, and posturing. Although dogs signal intent by barks and growls, the message is not complete without the telegraphy of body and facial language. That’s how dogs talk.

Dog Body Language

Various parts of the dog’s body are involved in this form of communication.

Here is a quick primer in canine body language. Here are what canine facial expressions, head and neck positions, gestures, tail position and torso position means as to how dogs communicate.

Dog Facial Expressions

A combination of facial expressions communicate a dog’s mood and intentions that can be understood by other species, including humans. Here are a few examples of facial communication:

  • Relaxed mood: Soft eyes, lit up, looking – but not staring. Ears forward or flopped, with tips bent over (if anatomically possible). Mouth open, lips slightly back, giving the impression of smiling. Tongue hanging limply from the side of the mouth
  • Anxiety: Eyes glancing sideways or away. Ears to the side of the head or flopped. Teeth clenched, lips firmly retracted. Tongue either not evident or lip licking
  • Intimidating: Eyes staring like searchlights. Ears forward. Teeth bared
  • Fearfulness: Eyes looking forward or away, pupils dilated. Ears pressed back close to the head. Panting/breathing hard through clenched or slightly open mouth. Jaw tense so that sinews show in the cheeks
  • Stress: Yawning plus other signs of anxiety or fearfulness (as above)

    Dog Head-Neck Position

  • Head down (“hang dog”): Submission or depression
  • Head in normal mid-way position: Everything is all right
  • Head/neck turned to side: Deference
  • Head held high/neck craning forward: Interest or, depending on other signs, a challenge
  • Head resting on other dog’s back: Demonstrating dominance

    Dog Torso/Trunk/Upper Limb

  • Tensing of muscles and the raising of hackles: Threat/imminent fight

    Dog Gestures

  • Play bow – head low, rump elevated: The universal sign of canine happiness and an invitation to play
  • Paws on top of another dog’s back: Dominance
  • Looming over: Dominance
  • Rolling over: Submission/deference
  • Urinating by squatting: Deference
  • Urinating by leg lifting: Dominance/defiance
  • Humping: Dominance
  • Backing: Unsure/fearful

    Dog Tail Position

  • Tail up: Alert, confident, dominant
  • Tail wagging: Dog’s energy level is elevated (excited or agitated)
  • Tail held low or tucked: Fearful, submissive
  • Tail held horizontal and wagging slowly: Caution
  • Tail held relaxed and stationary: Contented dog


The Conclusion on How Dogs Talk With Other Dogs

There is no one sign that gives away a dog’s feelings but if you consider all the body language signs, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the dog’s head. A dog that is staring at another dog, his ears pricked and his tail stiff, is probably conveying dominance, or at least a wish for it.

A dog that averts his gaze from another dog and hunkers down nervously as if waiting for an explosion is likely fearful and is trying to defuse the situation by acting submissive.

Sometimes body language signs can be ambivalent, however. For example, it is not uncommon to observe a dog growling at another dog while occasionally glancing to the side, backing up, and with his tail wagging. Such a dog is invariably fearful. Whenever fear signs are present, fear is in the equation. These dogs are unpredictable with other dogs and will alter their body language and behavior according to circumstances. If the opposing dog retires, they may jump around and “look happy.” If the opposing dog approaches too close the fearful one may snap or bite. Owners, if present, can help defuse their dog’s ambivalence and uncertainty by taking a strong leadership role. It’s amazing how rapidly a fearful dog’s disposition will change when an authoritative owner steps in and controls the moment. Dogs need strong leaders.

Another aspect of communication is odor. Because dogs have such an amazing sense of smell, it is likely that they learn a lot about other dogs from their smell. That’s what all the sniffing is about. It is difficult to imagine what sort of information passes between dogs via this medium. We do know that intact male dogs “smell male” (because of male sex pheromones) and that neutered males do not have this characteristic musk. By neutering males, we alter the olfactory signals they emit and thus other dog’s perception of them. It may even be that the “non-male smell” equates with a diestrus (in-between heat periods) or a neutered bitch smell.
When an intact male dog meets a neutered one, the response may not be confrontational because the other dog doesn’t perceive a rival. He may believe the neutered dog is female.

A Temporary Fix: Managing Your New Dog Until Your Fence is Installed

Life doesn’t always proceed in the perfect order. Sometimes you secure your first job before you’re ready to graduate or find your dream home before you have a partner with whom to share it. Managing your new dog isn't any easier.

Perhaps you always intended to fence-in your backyard prior to pursuing dog ownership … then, that black Labrador or beagle pup fell comfortably into your lap and won you over. You were just browsing rather than truly looking, yet your dog ambitions came to fruition quickly and unexpectedly.

Whether taking in an elderly family member’s displaced dog, rescuing a needy canine from a local shelter, or being smitten by an adorable pup, the fact is you are now that dog's caretaker, and you're responsible for managing your new dog. Plans change and temporary measures are needed.

As you sit on your fencing contractor’s waiting list, or await the arrival of spring in order to complete the fence installation yourself, you must cope with the reality that you’ll need to accompany your new dog outside constantly, especially if housebreaking remains a work-in-progress.

Here are five tips for managing your new dog in your temporarily-fenceless environment:

1. Managing Your New Dog With Twice-Daily Walks

Along with feeding time, walks represent the highlight of a dog’s day. Few activities elicit more excitement from your dog (or that heartbreaking look of sadness on the occasion when a walk must be skipped). In addition to offering your dog healthy exercise and routine, walking helps reduce outbreaks of mischief within the home.

While the frequency and duration of walking needs varies based on breed and age, it’s generally recommended to take your dog on two walks of at least 15 minutes each day (morning and evening). In the case of a particularly active dog that lacks access to a fenced yard, though, a third daily walk around lunchtime may prove necessary.

2. Coordinate a Schedule

When furnishing your dog with exercise and outdoor time requires more than simply opening the door and letting him out into a fenced yard, the entire family should contribute. Breathing in the great outdoors, after all, offers universal health benefits that even your spouse or children can enjoy.

Create a schedule by which each member of your household shares responsibility for managing your new dog. Proper coordination involves catering to everyone’s daily schedule, working around job and school obligations to ensure your dog’s exercise needs are never neglected.

3. Dog Park Visits

If your dog were capable of selecting his favorite destinations away from home, chances are your local dog park would sit atop his list. It’s no surprise that dog parks present an ideal substitute for letting your dog burn some steam when a fenced yard is not available.

In essence, a dog park affords you the opportunity to borrow a fence for the sake of your ever-energetic canine and get a little help with managing your new dog. Unleashed and ready to romp, your dog will not only receive ample exercise but also a valuable opportunity to interact with his pooch peers.

4. Borrow from a Neighbor

Speaking of borrowing, in all likelihood one of your friendly neighbors sports a beautiful wooden fence. Is it unreasonable to request to make occasional use of this structure? We think not.

Arrange for both households’ dogs to have “play dates” within your neighbor’s fenced-in yard. In exchange for your neighbor’s hospitality, offer to provide supervision of both dogs. Of course, this plan is contingent upon your dogs getting along.

5. Alternative Forms of Stimulation

Even when you lack a fenced-in yard, your arsenal can boast numerous strategies for occupying your dog’s time and commanding his energy. Adequate mental and physical stimulation can arise from chew toys, food puzzles, and leashed outdoor play, among other sources.

A fence is in your future, but in the meantime, there are myriad possibilities to managing your new dog properly without one, while promoting his health and well-being. Sometimes a perceived out-of-order approach turns out to be sufficiently orderly after all.


How to Have the Strongest Bond With Your Dog

How to Encourage the Strongest Bond With Your Dog

Have you ever noticed the love affair that some dogs and their owners have? I’m not talking about a clingy, neurotic, unhealthy dependency but rather a bond in which dogs are oblivious to everyone and everything but their owners. They’re the dogs and owners who only have eyes for each other, the pooches who think their owners hang the moon. Do you wish your dog swooned over you-instead of dashing off to chase bugs or eat poop?

What separates the swooners from their unruly counterparts is a strong human-canine bond built on a foundation of mutual love and respect. Everything about dog training and human-canine interactions comes down to the relationship you have with your dog. Bonding takes time and work. A strong bond doesn’t necessarily develop overnight. Falling in love with your dog at first sight is pretty common, but loving a dog isn’t the same thing as sharing a connection. Think of it this way: you may love your in-laws or siblings, but you’re bonded with your best friend. You spend time together-laughing, goofing off, sharing your deepest feelings, and a million other things. You relish and look forward to being together because you enjoy your relationship.

Love and bonding connect you to your dog. Developing that relationship is an ongoing process so you may experience different levels of bonding. There’s nothing wrong with having a different relationship with each dog in a multiple dog household. We have dogs that we love, and then we have dogs that connect to us on a much deeper level. These dogs seem to read our minds and think we are the best thing since chopped liver. They become a part of us. They make life better than it ever could have been without them. Some people call these dogs “heart dogs” or “soul dogs.”

Why Bonding with Your Dog Is Important

Owners who form a strong bond with their dogs are more inclined to train them, and trained dogs are more apt to be included in family activities such as hiking, camping, jogging, swimming, and so forth. After all, isn’t that why people have dogs-to share their life? Research by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy indicates that owners who are emotionally invested in their dog’s happiness are less likely to surrender him to a humane society or give him away.

Building a One-on-One Relationship with Your Dog

A key component of a strong canine-human bond is fostering one-on-one relationships. With other dogs or toys around, it can be difficult for your dog to focus on the growing friendship between you. Your dog need not focus on you 24 hours a day-after all; he’s a dog, not a robot! -but devoting time to just the two of you is crucial for this kind of connection. It may sound silly, but when a dog sees you as the dispenser of all things fun in his life he’s more inclined to want to be with you. He still gets to play with his favorite toy or canine buddies and do normal dog stuff such as sniffing, playing, and rolling in something stinky. However, making your time together the most exciting aspect of his world is a powerful motivator for a close bond.

It’s an ideology that many trainers pooh-pooh, feeling it’s unnecessary to be ground zero for your dog’s fun. Yet millions of dogs end up in shelters every day for being destructive, disobedient, or running off and not coming when called. If your dog wants to be with you, looks to you for direction in his everyday interactions, thinks you rule the universe, and comes when he’s called, what’s wrong with that? If the alternative to being discarded at a shelter is to make yourself the center of your dog’s world, maybe it isn’t such a ridiculous idea.

Reinforce Your Relationship with Your Dog

Simple everyday tasks and interactions with your dog such as feeding, walking, grooming, playing, snuggling, and loving words and touches are great ways to facilitate and strengthen the bonding process. These interactions teach him that your relationship goes beyond a 15-minute a day training session-it’s a 24/7 commitment. 

Spend a few minutes every day engaging and connecting with him, getting to know his behaviors and personality quirks, what he likes and dislikes. Is he keen on tummy rubs and snuggling? Does he love asparagus? Where’s his favorite spot to stretch out and daydream? What’s his favorite toy? Is he a loner? Social butterfly? Lover boy? 

Depending on your dog’s personality, temperament, and threshold for social interaction, he may enjoy activities such as walking in the park, hiking in the mountains, swimming in a lake, or riding in the car. But don’t just take him walking, hiking, or swimming; explore your surroundings together. Actively engage with him by exploring a new trail or praising him for finding a cool stick. Learn together how to bark, run, slide, and swim. Take him someplace new as often as possible, and let him know it’s okay to play. 

If your dog loves learning (as many do), training can be a wonderful way to bond. Teach him entertaining tricks such as waving, walking backwards, rolling over, speaking, and high-fiving. Grab a camera and teach him to “model” by posing on tree stumps, picnic tables, playground equipment, benches…whatever else you can find. Not only is training fun and interactive, but it also teaches him problem solving and body awareness and improves his fitness. 

Having fun simultaneously builds a strong bond and teaches trust. Let him know you have his back-no matter what-and you will never intentionally put him in harm’s way. Help him to be successful by always setting him up to succeed. This helps a fearful dog gain confidence, and helps a bored or energetic dog burn excess physical and mental energy and feel a little more fulfilled. 

Let him know how much you love him and how delighted you are that he’s yours. Show him it is you who is privileged to be sharing this journey together. Give your dog an environment of mutual love and respect and he’ll be less likely to wander off and find something more exciting like chasing squirrels, uprooting shrubs, or destroying every conceivable object within his reach. Be your dog’s best friend and biggest supporter, and a strong bond is inevitable.

Sexual Behavior in Dogs

Canine Sexual Behavior

The urge to reproduce is powerful in all higher animals, including dogs. This is because it is essential for the survival of the species and, in a manner of speaking, is driven by the “selfish genes” bent only on their own survival. Sexual drives and desires are absent in the early part of a dog’s life, blaze during puberty and early adulthood, and weaken as age advances, taking its toll.

Although a young puppy does not have the urge to procreate, males do engage in sexual play in the form of mounting, as early as 5 weeks. At this stage, they probably have no idea what they are rehearsing, though successful mounting presumably establishes something about the relationship between two pups. Human observers ascribe the behavior to the establishment of dominance, which is true, but then again sex and politics are often intertwined. When puberty arrives, under the influence of a sea of hormones, dogs and bitches begin to get the true message about the joy of sex and, when opportunities arise, are driven to act on this compulsion. Dogs and bitches have different approaches to sexual behavior and are on different time lines. Males are always interested in an opportunity to mate while the drive to mate is seasonal in bitches.

Sexual Behavior: The Female Dog

Bitches have their first estrus (“heat”) at the age of 6 to 12 months. Smaller dogs tend to come into heat at the earlier end of this spectrum while larger dogs take longer to mature. The onset of the first heat is heralded by the maturation of a wave of follicles within the bitch’s ovary and a sudden rise in blood estrogen level. Initially, what transpires externally is referred to as proestrus, which is a stage of readiness for, and interest in, mating. Along with an interest in male dogs and flirtation with them (proceptive behavior), there is progressive vulval swelling and some bleeding. If males try to mount a bitch in proestrus, she will often turn and growl or snap to rebuff their efforts. Ten days of proestrus lead to the climax, the internal release of ova, and the beginning of true or “standing” heat in which the bitch will allow herself to be mounted by an interested male. Sometimes bitches are well attended by competent suitors and other times their choice is limited. To attract the attention of a disinterested or otherwise distracted suitor, they will often back into him, deflecting their tail in a provocative way so that he can hardly ignore what is before him. When the dog mounts, the bitch stands firm, even moving her hips to accommodate him to ensure the success of his thrusting. Following introception, the bitch tightens her vaginal muscles around the male’s penis and settles in for the duration of copulation, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Post-pubertal bitches come into heat cyclically and are thus receptive and fertile between one and four times per year. The average number of heats annually is two.


Sexual Behavior: The Male Dog

Testosterone levels climb in young male dogs, hitting a first peak at about 5 months of age. By this time, their mounting and thrusting behavior may be becoming a nuisance to their owners. At 7 months, dogs may seek to mate, attracted by pheromones put off by bitches. One such attractant is methyl p-hydoxybenzoate (methyl PHBA), a chemical found in high concentrations in the urine and vaginal secretions of bitches in estrus.

Mating usually occurs for the first time when the dog is around one year of age. During mating, the male first mounts and then intromits, sometimes with a little guiding help from his partner. An erectile section at the base of his penis, the bulbus glandis, expands and is grasped firmly by the bitch’s contracted vaginal muscles. The pair is now literally inseparable. At this point in the proceedings, the male may then dismount and turn to face the opposite direction while the couple is still tied. The bulbus glandis must shrink in size before the two dogs can separate.

Variations on the Theme


  • Male dogs raised in isolation show abnormal mounting orientation for longer than other uninitiated dogs. This evidence demonstrates that dogs need social and pre-sexual experience in order to know which way is up when it comes to mating.
  • Fear and subordinate status inhibit libido in male dogs.
  • Masturbation occurs in “intact” and castrated domestic dogs. Apparently, brain centers that mediate sexual behavior are not completely inactivated by castration but are merely muted.
  • Inappropriate mounting of peoples’ legs and cushions, sometimes leading to ejaculation, is also expressed by some dogs and can occur despite neutering.
  • Mounting can sometimes be used to signal dominance over other dogs or people.
  • Some neutered dogs still show interest in the opposite sex and will mount, intromit and tie as if they are still intact.



What Neutering (Castration) Does to a Male Dog

  • Reduces sexual interest
  • Reduces incidence of roaming in 90 percent of males
  • Reduces competitive aggression between males in 60 percent of males
  • Reduces urine marking in 50 percent of males
  • Reduces mounting in 67 percent of males (especially mounting of people)Testosterone levels fall to very low levels immediately after neuter surgery, but behavioral changes, if they are going to occur, may take weeks or months.

What Spaying Does to a Female Dog

Following ovarohysterectomy (“spaying”), a bitch will not come into heat and will show no interest in male dogs. Neither will she be attractive to them.

A Neutered Dog is a Healthier, Happier Dog

Unneutered dogs display a great interest in sexual behaviors. For males, this interest is more or less continuous whereas for females it occurs during heat periods only. Sex hormones have an effect on sexual interest and behavior in both sexes though the effect is more powerful in inspiring sexual behavior in bitches. Neutering is recommended to prevent unwanted, sexually-driven behavior in all males that are not to be used as studs. Wanderlust, mounting, urine marking, and inter-male aggression are all unnecessary male behavioral baggage that need not be tolerated, except in a select few dogs to be used for breeding. Also, neutering is recommended for health reasons and to prevent unwanted puppies. Neutering females will prevent a bitch’s 6-monthly heats, and the appearance of motley bands of wide-eyed, free-roaming would-be suitors. In addition, early neutering of bitches before the first heat virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer for bitches. This healthful advantage is attenuated after the first heat and lost following the second heat.