(originally published in the Show Beagle Quarterly-author Ruth Darlene Stewart)

The puppy owner was frustrated, all her attempts to train her 12 week old  puppy to not bite down on her hand while playing had been in vain.  She e-mailed the Beagle list asking for advice from other Beagle owners.  She said that while her puppy was playing he would chew on their hands..  It was especially bad after he was excited from playing with the cat.  He would sometimes bite her hand to hard, and the sharp little teeth would draw blood.  She had tried every method published from the toy distraction method to yelping like a littermate and putting the puppy in time-out. Nothing had worked.

I knew from experience with other pet owners that this playful habit needed to be eliminated as it could progress to the point where the puppy could actually start aggressively biting.  A method I had learned by accident that I will call the counter pressure method or "Bass method," I knew would work for this puppy.  I e-mailed the puppy owner my suggestions, and within days, the puppy was playing without biting down. This puppy had learned bite awareness and bite inhibition.  Here are her comments:

I only needed to do your method two or three times before he really got it in his stubborn little head.  Now, when he goes to nibble my hands, all I have to do is tell him "no" and he immediately backs off!  So yes, it was the ONLY thing that has worked and thanks!"

I discovered this method totally by accident.  I start hand feeding my puppies at weaning.  I do this to get them used to taking treats from my hand.  I want them to learn to pay attention to my hands as a part off their training to free stack.  One day while working with two puppies, this one particularly stubborn and energetic puppy kept demanding and getting all the treats out of my hand.  Because of the competition with the other puppy, he would bite down a little hard in his attempt to get all the food.  I reached over at one point, to take him by the muzzle and gently push him away. By accident, he opened his mouth at the same time, and I actually grasped his lower jaw.  The grasp was a gentle one, but it did apply pressure to the floor of his bottom jaw.  He immediately opened his mouth and backed away and then approached my hand again to take a treat.  As he took my hand in his mouth, his little sharp teeth again applied had too much pressure on my hand.  I grasped his lower jaw with slight pressure using my thumb and my forefinger and the result was the same, he opened his mouth and backed away.  After a couple of times of using this method, he had total bite "awareness" inhibition and would play and lick and take food out of my hand without applying too much pressure.

This method is always done in a calm manner and you only apply slight pressure and say "easy or no" simultaneously.  This method has worked on every puppy I have used it on.  I have nicknamed this the "Bass" method because it reminds me of how a fisherman will hold a bass while removing the hook.  Of course you do not lift your puppy up while doing us, nor are you applying enough pressure to really extend or pull open the jaw. Remember is not done in a corrective way; as if their action causes the reaction.

Puppies need to learn bite awareness/inhibition early.  Most well adjusted puppies playfully mouth and bite at their owners hands, just as they would their littermates. When the owner does not know how to control or teach by inhibition, this may escalate to a beagle that will bite. It is a conditioned behavior, as they can learn at a young age that when they bite down the human withdrawals, and they get their way.  Another problem is that the owner may use their hands to correct their puppy by hitting or slapping it in frustration as an attempt to keep it from biting.  This will only make a puppy that is hand shy.

The BASS method --or counter pressure method really works!!  So next time one of your mouthy little devils bites a little to hard,,,try it.