By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Bite inhibition is defined as a learned and conditioned response in which a dog consciously inhibits and controls the full force of his/her biting ability. Dogs display a form of bite inhibition when they are playing together, and even at times when confronting another dog. Without this response, there would be the potential for injury.

Dogs usually seem to understand and can typically exhibit a form of bite inhibition in puppyhood as early as about 4 to 4=1/2 months of age.

Socialization helps puppies and even older dogs learn bite inhibition while playing. When puppies nip or bite while nursing, their mother dog will immediately correct her pups by standing up, removing herself from them and walking away or by nudging them to stop. Puppies and even older dogs can also teach each other too, as the puppy or dog who has been bitten or nipped will yelp and stop playing with the rougher one or show disapproval by a corrective bark or growl to the one displaying rougher behavior. This teaches that playtime ends if there is biting or roughness.

Never use physical force if your dog or puppy nips. A quick “no” and removing yourself from the dog for a while and praising and introducing calm movements when the dog is relaxed is much more effective.