Here is a video I taped a couple of weeks back. Lilou (black) and her best friend Kylo (white). I met Kylo’s owner one morning walking her in our neighborhood. This was PERFECT because it works out so well for them to play because of their similar stature and age. Bite Inhibition is a very important part of a puppies development. This brings me to my next point.
When we brought our new pup home she was only 6.5 weeks of age. It wasn’t necessarily our choice to have the pup this early, but it isn’t the worst thing either. Typically for early dismissal to be okay, it depends on how early they have transitioned to hard food, the overall health of the pup, and relationship to the litter-mates. Basically the dog learns to become a dog through play in these early stages. Again, we received the pup at this time because that is how it worked out with the owner trying to get rid of them. Both parties were wanting a loving home asap for the puppy but I was slightly concerned with the age after delving into bite inhibition and the potential impacts of not having those extra two weeks with her brothers and sisters. What I needed to do was compensate for the lack of litter-mates during this 6-10 week period. Most literature will mainly say bite inhibition is the sole reason why it is recommended to get a puppy around 8-10 weeks instead of 6 weeks.
Imperative Young Pup Play 4-8 weeks
Bite inhibition and socialization I wanted to do as early as possible to compensate for being separated from her litter-mates. I knew I wanted the best possible situation for her given the circumstances. I looked up puppy classes right away that mainly focus on puppies playing with each other. The class was creatively called “kinderpup”. This is when I found another golden retriever mix in my neighborhood named Kylo. This dog was 1 week older than her but they were practically an exact match of breed and age as you can see below. After scheduling meetings with the owner and them having many energetic NON STOP hour play sessions. I immediately noticed positive changes in her behavior because she was not biting as hard and it was an AMAZING outlet for her to burn some of that puppy energy. We still to this day try to meet up almost every day for them to play with each other 🙂
Bite inhibition for puppies through play like this helps the dogs establish first hand how their bite may feel to others. Kylo and Lilou will let out a yelp if one gets too crazy during play. This is a direct and very natural way for them to figure out good habits with those little mouth needles. Especially when you are holding them and they love to chew on your hands. Early delving into the “soft mouth” will pay off so much down the line as well when you are giving them treats or if you want them to “retrieve” things without destroying them.