Each dog that walks through our doors will undergo a “check-in” process, which includes but is not limited to: vaccinations, microchipping, spay/neuter, general de-wormer for intestinal parasites, and of course, heartworm testing.

Building a Relationship with your Dog

A solid relationship provides many benefits. The stronger the bond between you and your dog, the more each of you will enjoy your time together, the more your dog will look to you when uncertain, and the harder your dog will try to please you.
read more

Cat and Dog Body Language

Did you know your pet sends you signals through its body language much like people do? Find out what some of the most common messages look like for both cats and dogs.

Nothing in Life is Free

As the human who has control of all things that are wonderful in your dog's life, stop giving away resources for free. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you and must be earned in order to properly structure his pack.
read more

Purr-fect Tips for Cats

Being prepared is the key to success when bringing a new pet into your home. Cats are particularly sensitive to new surroundings and some may hide under a bed or in a closet for days or even weeks. Make homecoming for your new friend easier by following these guidelines.

Resource Guarding

Some dogs will growl when you get near their food bowls or bare their teeth when you approach their toys or rawhide chews. They can even become possessive about their bed or favorite napping spot on the couch.

Despite how it might seem, your dog does not hate you; nor is he trying to dominate you. He is “resource guarding” – a normal behavior in canine society ( just like jumping, digging, barking, etc.). Fortunately resource guarding is something that can be managed, treated, and even eliminated with proper time and intervention.
read more

Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety can be common in shelter dogs. It is important to address the behavior before it escalates. Below, are standard suggestions to help set dogs on a path to help ease separation anxiety. You may have already tried some of these techniques; if so, let us know and we will further advise.
read more

Puppy Biting

Puppies bite. And thank goodness they do! Puppy play-fighting and play-biting are essential for your puppy to develop a soft mouth as an adult. Puppy biting is normal, natural, and necessary!
read more

Recommended Reading

These books are recommended by the Operation Kindness staff to be used for foster reference and as recommendation during adoption. Many books are available for download (i.e. Kindle).
read more


A solid relationship provides many benefits. The stronger the bond between you and your dog, the more each of you will enjoy your time together, the more your dog will look to you when uncertain, and the harder your dog will try to please you. You can’t expect to have a good relationship with a friend you never talk to or spend time with; the same is true of your dog. Spend time with them: training, playing, grooming, and even feeding them.

To develop a strong relationship in everyday life

Become the clear pack leader by making house rules and having fair expectations for your dog. A strong leader provides fair punishment and fair reward on a predictable and consistent basis. Establish a routine to help your dog predict what is expected of him/her. For some dogs, sudden changes in routine create anxiety, so when necessary, slowly introduce changes.

Know what your dog likes

Find out what your dog likes and doesn’t like. Such as finding out and ranking his five favorite treats. Reserve the highest value treat for special times-when he does something diffcult particularly well. Find out if he/she likes to be touched: where and how long. Does he like to play? What is his favorite game and his favorite toy? What doesn’t he like? With some dogs a spray bottle of water is a punisher, but some dogs love it. Does your dog like water? Does he mind loud noises? Does he hate being alone or separated from you? Once you discover what your dog likes and dislikes, you can more readily reward positive behaviors and chastise negative behaviors. This makes your expectations more apparent to your dog and easier for him to predict what will please you, which is indicative of a good relationship.

Become the VIP

All good things, especially the best things in life, come from you. It’s your goal to be more exciting than any other dog or person. You should be the most important thing in your dog’s life. When allowing your dog to play with other dogs, reward any attention you receive from your dog, as they are taking time from their friends to come check with you. Ask your dog to sit and wait before allowing them to play, which will convey the message that you control play dates, as well.

Activities to build a strong relationship

Request and reinforce attention from your dog; i.e. “watch me/focus,” responding to name, coming when called, whistle response, and eye contact. Anytime your dog responds to and looks at you, it is rewardable. Give loads of attention to your dog, as well. Notice when your dog is doing anything well-mannered and reward him with attention, touch, or food. The more often you reward a desired behavior, the more likely you are to see it again.

Walks allow for you and your dog to explore the world together and spend invaluable time together. Anytime your dog looks or comes back to acknowledge you, praise and reward him. Your dog is saying, “Are you coming? Did you see that?” or “Hey, smell this!” just as we would talk with a friend about things we encounter in life.

Play is a way for dogs to test themselves and their abilities, learn their ranking against those they play with, as well as burn of tons of energy. The interaction through play fosters deep pack bonds and develops confidence in you as their leader.


Tug is a great way to build confidence and relationships. Winning at tug allows the dog to become more confident and should be balanced based on how pushy they are with you. Playing fetch or rough housing are other ways to spend valuable time developing your relationship. Rough housing can include toys or just your person; as long as you are animated and excitable, your dog will enjoy this interaction. Praise and talk to your dog when you play. Remember: play is to be started and stopped by you. When your dog uses his teeth, firmly say, “No,” and end play immediately. The more excited you are, the more excited your dog will be to play with you.

Another way to further a budding relationship is through touch. The physical connection instills a trust in each other. Petting and grooming your dog also allows for you to check their physical condition and may alert you to health problems early on. Praise and sweetly talk to your dog while you focus some of your attention on the toes, ears, and tail to familiarize them with being touched and groomed in these areas, which are more sensitive.

Feeding the dog or giving treats solidifies in their mind that you are the leader/provider of the pack. Hand feeding is a way to become more a part of each meal.

Training your dog offers the double benefit of opening the lines of communication and forming a well-behaved dog.

Devoting time to building a profound relationship with your dog will create a dog that looks to you for guidance and direction in a time of unease. The deeper the bond between owner and dog, the greater the desire to please the owner and the harder your dog will work. This makes for a more enjoyable dog to have around. Because of your connection, when the dog clearly knows what you expect, life is easier and more enjoyable for him, too. Dogs are very generous with their love and trust. We must remember not to abuse or take for granted that faith. Interact with your dog daily. Research shows it is great for your heart in more ways than one.

Amber Gyer

Operation Kindness
Certified Dog Trainer & Behavior Specialist


You have resources—food, treats, toys, and attention. Your dog wants those resources. Require him to earn them. That's the basis of "Nothing in Life is Free." As the human who has control of all things that are wonderful in your dog's life, stop giving away resources for free. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you and must be earned in order to properly structure his pack. We want to give your dog a reason for him to respect your leadership and your ownership of these things. To implement the NILIF your dog simply earns his use of your resources by demonstrating a command or trick. Play, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the dog park, etc are traded for any command such as "Sit," "Look at me," "Come," "Shake” etc. When your dog does what you want, he gets rewarded with the thing he wants. NILIF is a way of living with your dog that creates trust and confidence.

Why is this important to implement?

"Nothing in Life is Free" gently and effectively communicates to your dog that you are the leader. This technique requires your dog to work for everything he wants in a safe, positive, non-confrontational way in order to establish your leadership position. Even if your dog never displays aggressive behaviors such as growling, snarling, or snapping, he can still be manipulating or controlling your actions. He may be affectionate to the point of being "pushy," such as nudging your hand to be petted or "worming" his way onto the furniture to be close to you. Nothing In Life Is Free gently reminds the dog that he must abide by your rules.

How to practice "Nothing in Life is Free"

1. All of your dog’s privileges (stroking, eating, walking, playing, going outside, and so on…) should be earned. He is not allowed to demand anything from you, whether he attempts to do this through whining, barking, nudging, etc. Simply, have him sit and wait till he is calm. When he demands anything ignore him or have him sit. Your attention is one of his most valued resources that he needs to respectfully ask for and earn.

2. During dinnertime, prepare your dog's food and leave it on the counter. Sit down to your own meal, do not give scraps. When you have finished ask for any command, then give the bowl of food that you prepared earlier. In nature, the alpha male and alpha female (you and your spouse) eat first, then subsequent members of the pack eat according to ranking.

3. You control places of importance. Limit sleeping areas. Do not allow him on furniture (couches, beds, tables, etc.) unless called first. These are places of importance and the higher ranking members of the pack determine who gets to use these places. His resting place or personal area should be removable or a place you yourself can and will occupy whenever you may choose. If your house is large, limit your dog's freedom in the house by blocking off areas like upstairs, basement and parts of the main room. Teach the command “off” which will make the task of getting them off of unwanted places easier.

4. Play and walks should be instigated by you and on your terms. You start and end when you are ready, not when your dog wants. At the end, place the toy/leash out of sight and reach until the next time you decide it is time to walk or play. Play tug can be a confidence building exercise. Overly confident dogs should win less often than the human. Under socialized dogs need to build confidence and allow them to win more.


5. Control all doorways, entryways, and narrow openings such as hallways. People go first and dogs follow. Do not allow your dog to lead you or go ahead of you through each doorway. Use a leash if necessary to gently guide your dog to follow. We do not want to create negative associations, so keep things light and happy. Teaching your dog to “wait” would be well applied here. Leaders lead; this should apply to all doorways, narrow paths, and even outdoor walks.

6. In general, have your dog move out of your way. Don't walk around him. Walking “through” him is typically effective. Your dog should naturally yield personal space to you, if necessary use a leash to gently show your dog what you expect him to do.

7. Ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise to work off excess energy and place your dog on a high quality-low protein diet. Dogs by nature are explorative and curious animals. Many breeds of dogs were bred to work all day. Provide as many different outlets as possible for your dog’s energy. A tired dog is a good dog! (Ask for enrichment ideas, if needed).

8. Be consistent! Rules don't work in any setting if not always enforced. When you are tired or busy, continue to expect reward inducing behavior and the positive behaviors will start coming more quickly and readily. If you are consistent, good behavior will become a habit for your dog.

Why this technique works:

Dogs want good things. If the only way to get it is to do what you ask, they'll do it.

Good leadership encourages good behavior by providing the guidance and boundaries dogs need. What your dog needs most is quality time with you. This would be a good time to enroll in a basic obedience class. If his obedience is already top notch, consider joining an agility class or fly ball team.

For your dog, not having a clear leader who makes the important decisions is a big source of stress. Dogs are happiest when the pack order is stable. Tension is created by a constant fluctuation of leadership. Patience is an important component of this process. Remember your dog may have a strong history of being in control and controlling resources. Enforce the new rules, but keep in mind that he's only doing what he's been taught to do and he's going to need some time to get the hang of it all, just as you are.

Common concerns

The program need not be a long drawn-out process. All you need to do is enforce a simple command before allowing him access to what he wants. Dinner, for example, should be a two or three second encounter that consists of nothing more than saying "sit," "good dog!," and then bowl down, done!



The NILIF concept speaks to who initiates the attention (you!), not the amount of attention. Call your dog to you 100 times a day for hugs and kisses!! You can demand his attention, he can no longer demand yours!

Be patient and remember that eventually your dog will have to obey to get what he wants. (Use this only in regards to commands your dog knows well. New or poorly executed commands should be addressed during separate training sessions.)

Demanding attention has worked for him before, so don't be surprised if he tries harder to get your attention. When he figures out old tactics no longer work, he'll stop.

This should be positive for both you and your dog, keep training light and happy!

Teaching Your New Pooch to Share
What is Resource Guarding?

Some dogs will growl when you get near their food bowls or bare their teeth when you approach their toys or rawhide chews. They can even become possessive about their bed or favorite napping spot on the couch.

Despite how it might seem, your dog does not hate you; nor is he trying to dominate you. He is “resource guarding” – a normal behavior in canine society (just like jumping, digging, barking, etc.), but something that is decidedly less desirable in human society. Fortunately resource guarding is something that can be managed, treated, and even eliminated with proper time and intervention.

Why is my dog guarding his resources?

A variety of things can cause a dog to protect resources, including:
•     Anxiety, insecurity or inability to cope with new environments, social situations and/or people/pets.
•     Hunger or competition with other dogs for nutritional resources – real or perceived.
•     Genetics. Just like people, some dogs are more possessive than others.
•     Unintended results of things people do (e.g., taking away food, punishing for resource guarding, etc.).
•     Medical issues, such as illness or injury, or behavior changes resulting from medication (e.g., steroids).

What are the early signs of resource guarding?

Some dogs may growl or snap if you approach while they’re playing with toys, eating food or chewing on a bone. Early warnings may include:
•    Tensing, stiffening up or becoming rigid or very still when you approach.
•    Hunkering down or hovering over the food bowl or toy in a protective stance.
•    Eating faster or “punching” at the bowl as someone approaches.
•    Staring or watching suspiciously as you approach or pass by.

What do I do if my dog is guarding resources? Can I teach him to share?

While your dog may never want to fully share his resources, the prognosis is good for teaching him to have a calm, self-controlled and accepting attitude when you approach his prized resources. With some helpful tips and consistent reinforcement, you can condition your dog to view people approaching as a good thing.

Start by managing the environment to minimize the ways your dog can practice bad behavior. Make sure there is adequate space and the room is quiet and calm – try to eliminate any distractions. If possible, restrict your dog’s toy play and/or feeding time to a room or kennel separate from other dogs and people.

Teaching Your New Pooch to Share

Some other tips include:
•    Walk it Out: Take your dog for a 20 – 30-minute walk before mealtime to burn off extra energy and enjoy
       some nice bonding time with you!

•    Be Consistent: Feed your dog at the same time every day to reduce the potential anxiety caused by him
       wondering when he will get fed. Dogs have internal clocks and know when it’s time to eat.

•    Play with Your Food: Help your dog learn that food, treats and other good things come from people by using
       “Nothing in Life is Free.” Give him a way to work for his food.

    o    Before feeding him or giving him a toy, have your dog do 2 or 3 tricks (e.g., sit, lie down, stay).
    o    Require a “trick” or good behavior before giving your dog something he wants like affection or a walk, which will
          reinforce your leadership and bolster trust and respect in your relationship.

•    Play the “Look at Me” game: Teach your dog that when he turns away from his bowl or toy to look at you, he will
       be rewarded with something yummy. Here is how to play:

    o    Place a small amount of dry kibble in a bowl or food dispensing toy, and let your dog begin eating the food.
    o    Approach your dog with a tasty treat (e.g., a piece of hotdog, cheese or other special, high-value food item).
    o    Say the dog's name. If he lifts his head, praise him generously and toss him the treat – rewarding him for turning his
          focus to you. Repeat this exercise on a regular basis.

•    Make a Trade: Teach your dog to trade
       good stuff for better stuff (e.g., a yummy treat) – then give back the original good stuff. Over time, he will
       start associating your approach with better stuff on the way! Here’s how:

    o    Begin by giving your dog a toy he finds boring or only mildly interesting (the less valuable the toy, the more quickly
          your dog will be willing to trade – plus, he will be less likely to aggressively guard something that isn’t highly desirable).
    o    Let your dog play with the toy for a moment, then offer him something he’d prefer to have (e.g., a special treat).
          Calmly say, “Trade.”

        •    Hold the special treat and let your dog nibble on it while you pick up the boring toy.

        •    When your dog finishes eating the treat, ask him to “sit” and then return the toy to him.

        •    This process will teach your dog to trust you as he starts associating you with better stuff.

•    Toss a Treat: Desensitize your dog to your approach by tossing him a treat as you walk by. The goal is to help him
       understand a human approaching his food, toys, space, etc. is a good thing!

    o    Stay far enough away when you walk by that your dog doesn’t show warning signs.
    o    Over time, slowly reduce the space between you and your dog when you walk by.

One important note: Resource guarding is not an act of disobedience or defiance, so punishing your dog for this behavior is not recommended – and it can actually backfire! Your dog may misunderstand punishment as challenging and/or threatening him for his beloved resource, which may escalate his level of aggression and defensive behavior.

Teaching Your New Pooch to Share
How do I feed my new dog?

There are a few options for feeding your dog, depending on what works best for you. The goal with all options is to ensure that dinner time is a calm, consistent experience, with minimal excitement, fanfare and variability.

Require your dog to sit calmly in a designated spot while you prepare his meal (if your dog hasn’t mastered “sit,” establish a boundary he cannot cross, such as the threshold of a room). If your dog gets up or moves beyond the boundary, stop and step away from the bowl. Calmly repeat your command and once your dog returns to his designated spot, resume meal preparation. If your dog breaks again, repeat the process until he remains in place through the entire meal preparation.

Patience is the key during this process. It may take several days for your pooch to understand the routine – but it will be worth the effort! Once your dog remains calm during meal preparation, proceed using one of the following options:

•    Bowl Feeding: Call your dog to the designated feeding area and ask him to sit or stand calmly before
       lowering the bowl to the floor. Allow him to finish eating without distractions and let him walk away from the bowl before it is
       picked up. Supervise feeding so your dog can eat without encroachment from people or other dogs.
•    Hand Feeding: Use meal time as training time, asking your dog to earn every morsel. This is essentially a
       hand-feeding technique. Teach your dog new commands, run through the ones he already knows, practice loose
       lead walking around the house, or play games like targeting a stick, or “It's your choice.” Find a demonstration
•    Free Feeding: Ensure a full food bowl is available to your dog at all times. This option works best if no other
       animals or small children are in the house and if weight gain is not a potential issue.

This sounds like a lot of work. Is there an easier way to handle this issue?

While it is important for your dog to have an opportunity to work through his issues, it’s more important for you and your family to be safe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or your dog is not making progress, you can use the following simple techniques to manage the behavior:

•    Set up your dog for success by removing all items that trigger his resource-guarding behavior. Make sure all toys,
     chew bones and food bowls are picked up when not in use. If your dog guards his bed or pieces of furniture, don’t allow
     him to have access to those locations without permission.
•    Avoid situations that set him off – if he growls when you approach his food bowl during mealtime, then stay away
     from him while he’s eating. Consider feeding him in his kennel or a separate room to minimize opportunities for
     potential conflict.
•    Be aware of your dog’s body language and watch for signals leading up to a full-blown resource
     guarding episode. If possible, redirect his attention to something of higher value.
•    Make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation to help him maintain a calm state of being.

Teaching Your New Pooch to Share

If you encounter unavoidable situations where management techniques won’t work, consider using some of the other tools and practices outlined in this handout. For example, if your dog is guarding a piece of trash he has stolen, try bribing him with something of higher value to redirect his interest away from the trash. If he sneaks into a location he likes to guard like his bed or a favorite spot on the couch, avoid a conflict by ignoring him until he leaves – then close off access before he can return.

When should I get professional help?

Operation Kindness employs a full-time Animal Behavior Specialist named Amber Jester who is available to answer questions, as well as provide help and guidance if you need it. Amber is just a phone call away if you need to talk with someone.

If at any time your dog makes you feel unsafe or if you have children in your home, hands-on help from a qualified professional may be the best course of action. While resource guarding is not uncommon, it can become a serious issue – potentially dangerous for humans and other pets – if not addressed or managed properly. Please don’t hesitate to contact Operation Kindness’ Behavior Specialist at (972) 418-7297 EXT. 286 with any questions or concerns.

•    The Whole Dog Journal Recourse Guarding;
      Resource Guarding in Dogs by Laurie Bergman VMD, DACVB
      Animals ISSN 2076-2615 “Preliminary Investigation of Food Guarding Behavior in Shelter Dogs in the United States.” 2012


Separation Anxiety can be common in shelter dogs. It is important to address the behavior before it escalates. Below, are standard suggestions to help set dogs on a path to help ease separation anxiety. You may have already tried some of these techniques; if so, let us know and we will further advise.

Getting Started

The first step to addressing separation anxiety is to increase physical exercise and mental stimulation. A tired dog is a good. For Physical exercise, think more often rather than longer sessions due to the animal’s impressive recuperation rate. Mental exercise can be met with training sessions, interactive toys such as a Kong filled with peanut butter, and even meal dispensing balls.

Avoid high contrasts of home time, where the dog gets a large amount of attention versus periods of away time when they are alone and potentially bored. When beginning work with the dog keep interactions with them calm, keeping your voice and body language at a mellow tone. Only reward calm behavior during goodbyes and greetings. When you leave and return try not to over acknowledge your pup. If she is excited, speak in a low and soft voice, remembering to keep body movement slow. This practice will help prevent rewarding the heightened state of arousal inadvertently.


Begin to create a positive association for the dog being alone. Provide brief periods of the dog being away from people for extremely short durations (less than 1 minute) pairing them with a positive experience, such as eating a treat or playing with a toy. Gradually progress to longer periods of time over a few days. Try to make these sessions positive by giving your dog something to do while you are away. This practice can also be done during meal time, set the bowl down and as your dog begins to eat, turn and walk out of the room. Re-enter the room before she has a chance to get upset that you are gone.

Crate Training and Separation Anxiety

These same techniques can be applied to going into the crate and spending time there. Try to make the crate a positive place to be by feeding all meals inside or providing a special treat that she only receives when in the crate. Try throwing treats into the crate and allow the dog to go retrieve the treat building trust that each time she walks in does not mean a long period of alone time. Increase this time the same way as above, one second at a time, ensuring you do not go over the dog’s comfort level and cause stress.

If the dog does become stressed in the crate, wait for a moment of calm or quiet before approaching. Returning during a stress reaction can reward or reinforce the reaction. Only return and open the crate when your pup is calm. Keep a log of the amount of time the pup stays in the crate and when signs of stress emerged. Increase the time alone by small increments. If you happen to progress too far too fast, wait for a second or two of calm before returning to the dog.


The first 15-20 minutes of your absence accounts for 80% of the damage and anxiety. We want to provide our dogs with something to help transition them to being alone. An interactive feeding ball or toy typically works well here. A simple bone can also offer some stimulation to distract from your departure. If the dog is not eating when you are not around, try increasing the value of the treat or toy. This can be wet food, liver or other pet safe food. Try leaving the T.V. or radio on providing the similar noises your dog hears when you are at home.

Separation Anxiety has a wide range of severity and each dog responds differently. Simply rewarding the dog for being in a different room can help resolve the issue, though other times more intervention is required than listed in this handout.

For additional help with separation anxiety contact Operation Kindness at 972-418-7297

We also recommend McConnell, Patricia B. I’ll Be Home Soon!: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety.


Puppies bite. And thank goodness they do! Puppy play-fighting and play-biting are essential for your puppy to develop a soft mouth as an adult.

Puppy Biting is Normal, Natural, and Necessary!

Puppy biting seldom causes appreciable harm, but many bites are quite painful and elicit an appropriate reaction—a yelp and a pause in an otherwise extremely enjoyable play session. Thus, your puppy learns that his sharp teeth and weak jaws can hurt. Since your puppy enjoys play-fighting, he will begin to inhibit the force of his biting to keep the game going. Thus your puppy will learn to play-bite gently before he acquires the formidable teeth and strong jaws of an adolescent dog.

Forbidding a young puppy from biting altogether may offer immediate and temporary relief, but it is potentially dangerous because your puppy will not learn that his jaws can inflict pain. Consequently, if ever provoked or frightened as an adult, the resultant bite is likely to be painful and cause serious injury.

Certainly, puppy play-biting must be controlled, but only in a progressive and systematic manner. The puppy must be taught to inhibit the force of his bites, before puppy biting is forbidden altogether. Once your puppy has developed a soft mouth, there is plenty of time to inhibit the frequency of his now gentler mouthing.

Teaching your puppy to inhibit the force of his bites is a two-step process: first, teach the pup not to hurt you; and second, teach your pup not to exert any pressure at all when biting. Thus the puppy's biting will become gentle mouthing.

Teaching your puppy to inhibit the frequency of his mouthing is a two-step process: first, teach your puppy that whereas mouthing is OK, he must stop when requested; and second, teach your pup never to initiate mouthing unless requested.

No Pain

It is not necessary to hurt or frighten your pup to teach her that biting hurts. A simple "Ouch!" is suffcient. If your pup acknowledges your "ouch" and stops biting, praise her, lure her to sit (to reaffirm that you are in control), reward her with a liver treat, and then resume playing. If your pup ignores the "ouch" and continues biting, yelp "Owwwww!" and leave the room. Your puppy has lost her playmate. Return after a 30-second time-out and make up by lure-rewarding your puppy to come, sit, lie down, and calm down, before resuming play.

Do not attempt to take hold of your pup’s collar, or carry her to confinement; you are out of control and she will probably bite you again. Consequently, play with your puppy in a room where it is safe to leave her if she does not respond to your yelp. If she ignores you, she loses her playmate.

No Pressure

Once your pup's biting no longer hurts, still pretend that it does. Greet harder nips with a yelp of pseudo-pain. Your puppy will soon get the idea: "Whooahh! These humans are soooo supersensitive. I'll have to be much gentler when I bite them." The pressure of your puppy's bites will progressively decrease until play-biting becomes play-mouthing.


Never allow your puppy to mouth human hair or clothing. Hair and clothing cannot feel. Allowing a puppy to mouth hair, scarves, shoelaces, trouser legs, or gloved hands, inadvertently trains the puppy to bite harder, extremely close to human flesh!


Once your pup exerts no pressure whatsoever when mouthing, then —and only then—teach him to reduce the frequency of his mouthing. Teach your puppy the meaning of "Off!" by handfeeding kibble (see the SIRIUS Puppy Training video). Your puppy will learn that gentle mouthing is OK, but he must stop the instant you ask him to stop.

Puppy Must Never Initiate Mouthing

At this stage, your puppy should never be allowed to initiate mouthing (unless requested to do so). Please refer to our Preventing Aggression booklet for a detailed description of the essential rules for bite-inhibition exercises such as handfeeding, play-fighting, and tug-of-war.

By way of encouragement, mouthing-maniac puppies usually develop gentle jaws as adults because their many painful puppy bites elicited ample appropriate feedback. On the other hand, puppies that seldom play and rough house with other dogs, puppies that seldom bite their owners (e.g., shy, fearful, and standoffish pups), and breeds that have been bred to have soft mouths may not receive sufficient feedback regarding the pain and power of their jaws. This is the major reason to enroll your puppy in an off-leash puppy class right away.

Should a dog ever bite as an adult, both the prognosis for rehabilitation and the fate of the dog are almost always decided by the severity of the injury, which is predetermined by the level of bite inhibition the dog acquired during puppyhood. The most important survival lesson for a puppy is to learn bites cause pain! Your puppy can only learn this lesson if he is allowed to play-bite other puppies and people, and if he receives appropriate feedback.

For more detailed information about bite-inhibition exercises, read our Preventing Aggression booklet and watch the SIRIUS Puppy Training and Biting DVDs. Both are available on-line from If you feel you are having any diffculty whatsoever teaching your puppy to play-bite gently, seek help immediately. To locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or

New Puppy, New Adult Dog, Housetraining, Chewing,
Digging, Barking, Home Alone, Puppy Biting,
Fighting, Fear of People, Dogs & Children,
HyperDog, Puppy Training, Come-Sit-Down-Stay,
Walking On Leash, and Cat Manners.
© 2004 Ian Dunbar


These books are recommended by the Operation Kindness staff to be used for foster reference and as recommendation during adoption. Many books are available for download (i.e. Kindle).

Recommended Authors
Dr. Patricia McConnellspan –
The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs How to Be the Leader of the Pack: And Have Your Dog Love You for It I’ll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home
Karen Pryor
Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training
Jean Donaldson
The Culture Class: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding the Relationship between Humans and Domestic Dogs
Fight: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog – Dog Aggression
Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs
Dr. Sophia Yin -
How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
Dr. Ian Dunbar -
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Temple Grandin
Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
Colleen Pelar
Living With Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind
Whole Dog Journal -
Food, training, behavior…everything dog.
Tamar Geller
30 Days to a Well Mannered Dog
Wagfield Academy -