A soft mouth refers to the strength that the puppy is using when he closes his jaw on you, on another dog, on your cat. Regardless of who it is, we need the puppy to learn to inhibit his bite (see Dogs Learning From Other Dogs in How Dogs Learn). Dogs need to learn to develop a soft mouth.
Some folks feel adamant about never letting a dog put their mouth on a human and they do have a point. A dog may not discriminate between the strong hands of a man that they roughhouse with and that of a child or baby. That being said, we encourage you to let your puppy mouth your hands. This way you know how hard he is biting down and you can give him the appropriate feedback. Many people like to wrestle and roughhouse with their dogs. This is a personal decision that you have to make, taking into consideration your family and any children who will encounter your dog. (For more on this topic please see Prevention).
- Every day! Make them a part of your daily life with your dog. From the time you bring the puppy into your home, you should be teaching and refining and playing games.
- While you are in the training mode, get into the habit of keeping a toy on your person so that you always have one available.
- Play the games while you are working on specific obedience. Something like this: obedience – quick game – obedience – quick game. This is perfect for puppies. They have short attention spans; make sure obedience never feels like a chore. Games and obedience become one.
- On rainy days, when it is miserable outside and you can’t go for much of a walk or run, a dog with a vast repertoire of games under his belt is easy to tucker out inside the house.
- A game can be just as educational as any other thing that you opt to teach your canine friend, and sometimes for a tired or stressed-out person, a game with your puppy might be just the thing you both need.
They have short attention spans; make sure obedience never feels like a chore. Games and obedience become one.
Do not leave toys that you use for the games lying around on the floor for the dog to pick up or solicit play from you. The game toys should be kept in a place that is not accessible to the dog. Remember you control the games, you control the dog.
The great thing about games is that you can play them almost anywhere. People love to watch other people playing with their dogs. As with everything we teach our puppies, we need to start in an environment where we have our puppy’s full attention. Just as you will progress with your obedience in many different situations, you should progress by playing games in different situations as well. Playing a game of hide and go seek at the vet can help to relieve any stress the pup might have. Breaking up a morning walk with a game of retrieve can really spice up the morning. Only your imagination limits where you will play the games.