Friday, March 6, 2009

Bite, Bite, Bite

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.


Tom and Tama-Chan said...

Ambrose is so very lucky to have you, Niamh, and Barbara to love him, play with him, and teach him all the good things! It looks like he will grow into a wonderful, happy dog (and handsome too!).

Your Friends,
Tom and Tama-Chan

Mango said...

I do that too. Sometimes I lay down and let the pee-wee bitey me and jump on my head. Makes him feel like a big dog.

Dexter is one year old and just now learning to take treats gently. He has a hard mouth for a labradog.


Petey said...

Hi Niamh,

That was very interesting - I never played biteyface as a puppy (Mommy got me when I was 4 1/2 months old, so maybe I played before then) or as an adult. Lots of dogs are playing biteyface at the dog run but all I want to do is chase after balls.

Ambrose is one cute puppy!

Your pal,


Tucker, Daisy and Leo said...

Hi Niamh

We are so glad you are having fun playing bitey-face with Ambrose. See, it can be fun to have a new little brother sometimes. You are both so cute.

Tucker and Daisy

Ludo van puppy said...

I knew you would be a very good teacher. I love playing bitey face!

Hero said...

Ambrose is lucky to have you and Barbara to teach him what's appropriate behavior. I'm sure he's going to grow up to be a very well-mannered pup.

Dughallmor Beagles said...

You are such a great role model for little Ambrose....he'll grow up into a happy, good natured and well balanced adult with your expert guidance :D
What a great game of bitey-face!
Slobbers xx

Anonymous said...

Zeke and I like playing bitey face, too. Ambrose is getting bigger every day!

See ya!

Agatha and Archie said...

Really thank goodness he has youor else how else would he learn to play bitey face the right way? And i noticed who was where on the beds...HA! Wayto g my girl...Lov A+

Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

You are a great big sis Niamh, Holly remembers those Piranha like teeth of Zac's, they are sharpe little things.

You look so cute togther. :-)

Holly & Zac...XX

Lorenza said...

Hi, Niamh!
You are the best sister he could ever dream of!
I know he is learning pretty fast!
Kisses and hugs

Sue said...

Hi, I came over from Dughallmore Beagles. I've always loved Gordons, used to play with one when I was a kid. Now I have Portuguese Water Dogs, lots of them.

Your little guy is sure cute.

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Yepper those little teeth are a nightmare.. Callie still likes to bite even with adult teeth..
You are right you need to be careful so you don't break Ambrose..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Pedro said...


You are so good to your little brother. Ziggy is really good to me to. He could snap me in two any time he wants to but he's very, very gentle with me. Too bad for him I'm not so gentle with him though. Ah, that just makes him the bigger dawg!


Maggie and Mitch said...

What a good sissy you are Niamh! Ambrose is lucky to have you! You're very patient with him!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Kirby said...

Hi Niamh, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading, so I have to catch up with you guys. So, first, welcome Ambrose! He is so lucky to be apart of your family! You both are too cute playing bitey face (which is my favorite game as well)!

Your pal,

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Your going to have to teach Ambrose about playing with sticks at the lake when he is ready. Another good reason not to break him..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Honey the Great Dane said...

Hi Niamh,

Haven't heard from you in ages! Hope you're well. Love the new addition to your family.

Sorry I haven't visited recently - my humans have been away coz Hsin-Yi's father died and then we lost my kitty sister, Lemon! It has been a sad time here...

Anyway, do come over and visit me sometime -

Honey the Great Dane

Blogdog said...

Little man here says he and Big Sis are just like Ambrose and you. Everyone needs a big sister to look after them - Ambrose is lucky to have you, Niamh

Lots of woofs

Chef said...

We never knew that about bitey-face games. I play bitey-face with my friend Oakley all the time and no one has understood what's really going on til now. Thanks for the interesting lesson.

Ambrose sure picked the right house to live in! It's a lot of fun watching him mature - and watching you be such a good big sister.


Comet and BLU said...

Can you come over and teach Comet the rules for bitey face. He always sulks when I make him squeak.

Anonymous said...

Niamh, we loves bitey face too!! :) You be very good at it and very gently. Mummy never knew there was such a science to good bitey face but everything you say makes sense to mummy, cos we don't bite down on each other or hurt each other!!

I bet you were so tired after teaching Ambrose so much!! xx