My daughter now has teeth. I’m sure it happens to all babies. But not all babies think it’s so funny to use their teeth on me.
Now don’t get me wrong, she’s my baby girl. And I fully accept it is apparently my lot in life to be a somewhat overly-sensitive chew toy. But man ... little baby teeth hurt!
The same is true for puppies and kittens. They are exploring the world, often through their mouths, and developing a world view based on their experiences during this exploration.
The outcome of this formation of personal philosophy on the part of your pet is dependent upon economics.
If your puppies or kittens are overly mouthy and not discouraged, they will become an overly mouthy dog or cat. This isn’t a big deal until they play bite someone who doesn’t like them. And has a brother who’s a personal injury lawyer. So nip it in the bud, so to speak.
Most mouthy behavior is a solicitation of play. Play rewards the behavior. Yes they’re cute, and yes you feel guilty, but the best means to discourage this is to immediately end all play and walk away.
Being invisible sucks if you’re a puppy or kitten. They learn to drop behaviors that make them invisible.
Using punishment to stop mouthy behavior often goes awry because negative attention is still attention. Many young animals want the spotlight on them, even if it’s via scolding.
But what about teething? Yes, just like my small mammal, puppies and kittens go through it. Their gums ache and need some pressure relief from time to time.
My daughter has some chew toys. Your puppy or kitten should, too. (Keep the pet and baby ones separate!) If they have their own toy, you have a lower chance of them deciding your shoes will work just fine.
But once habits are formed and adult teeth and musculature are present, it becomes a management issue. You can train them to be less mouthy, but it’s more difficult.
And remember, all dogs and cats bite. It’s how they eat.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at email@example.com.