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What should the word "off" mean to my dog?

The word, "off" can mean a few things. Think of the times that you want the dog to stopping jumping on you, to get "off" of you. It is more clear to say the word  "off" than to tell the dog to get "down" as "down" typically means to lie down on the ground. Think about wanting the dog to get off of a couch. The word "off" then means to remove your body from the couch or get "off" of it. You can also use the word, "off" to tell the pup to stop mouthing you, to take his or her mouth "off" of your hand.


Only AFTER the puppy has learned to be gentle with his mouth and does not nip or bite your hands, teach the puppy not to initiate mouthing - no canine teeth on human skin. 

Teaching dogs the word "off"

To teach the word, "off", get a food treat and hold in in your hand in front of the pups nose. As the pup goes for the treat, in a low tone and with lots of air, say, "off".  If the pup backs up at all, praise and then give the food treat. Repeat this exercise a few times each day until the pup has learned the word.

If the puppy initiates mouthing, tell the pup, "off" to mean remove your mouth from my hands. As soon as the pup backs off, praise profusely and then allow the mouthing to continue. 

Once the puppy learns not to initiate the mouthing, then teach the pup that it is never acceptable to mouth or touch human skin with canine teeth. For example, hold a bone for the puppy to chew on. When he or she begins to include your hand in the chewing, give the Instruction "off."  If the dog stops chewing your hand, praise him or her lavishly. Once the dog has responded appropriately (by not mouthing your hand), move the bone back towards the dog so that he or she may continue to chew on the bone. This can be repeated several times so that the dog learns how to consistently respond to the Instruction "off." (...) MORE on puppy teething.

Also use this Instruction to teach "off" furniture. When the pup is on the furniture hold the treat in front of the pup and move the treat toward the ground luring them down. As they jump down and the word "off" and give the treat once all four feet are on the ground.

If you have used these techniques to teach your dog not to mouth and the mouthing still persists, consult with an animal behaviorist. (...) MORE on puppy biting.

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