Ambrose has very sharp little teeth that he uses all the time. Barbara says he is a little barracuda. So it is really important for him to learn bite inhibition so that by the time his adult teeth come in and his jaws get powerful, he knows how to control his mouth.
Bitey face games, or jaw fighting, teach us to control the force with which we bite and keeps our mouths soft. Who knew that something so fun is also a good way to learn an important skill?
Ambrose and I had a good game of bitey face today. Notice how my mouth is open but I am not biting down.
I am doing what trainers call self-handicapping. Instead of jumping on top of Ambrose, which I certainly could do, I am stretched out on my side to make the game more fair for him. This way he can lean over me and bite on me.
Then I take his muzzle in my mouth but I don't bite down.
This gives Ambrose confidence to play with me and understand that I won't hurt him.
Good bitey face games are reciprocal. That means that no one is in charge all the time. We reverse roles so that sometimes Ambrose gets to think he is controlling the game. Of course, I am really in charge!
Then I put my foot over his face. The game continues as long as Ambrose controls his mouth.
What usually happens is that eventually Ambrose bites me too hard and then I flip him off me and make him squeak. That ends the game and he learns that the game is over if he looses control of his mouth. After such a work out, we have to take a nap.
Ambrose also has to learn bite inhibition with people. Barbara doesn't play bitey face with him of course, but if he bites her hard when she is petting him, she gasps and takes her hands away. Already his bites are getting less intense. Puppies have a lot of things to learn. Now if I can only get him house trained.