Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time
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Thread: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

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    Unhappy Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Hi,
    I'm not really a first time dog owner, but this is my first time to have a puppy. I have a 2 month old-pup, a rottweiler-lab cross, and he likes to play-bite most, if not all, the time. I'm aware that this is normal for them, but it has become annoying since i get a lot of bleeding scrapes and wounds very frequently. He doesn't really bite hard, it's just that he's teeth are very sharp and pointy, with his canine teeth in the upper jaw almost as long as 2 centimeters. He's been with me for about 9 days, and I've been training him bite inhibition since day 2. Despite following all the instructions and steps in the thread "Biting Stops Here", I still can't see any progress. I introduced all sorts of chew toys I can afford to buy, but it seems he finds people's legs and feet more nibbly. I can't walk him, nor potty train him yet since his focus is always on play-biting. He's not interested in anything aside from his food and people's legs and feet. I wonder if his breed/cross has something to do with this behavior? Both his parents aren't really playful, so I really don't know where he got his obsession with biting. I have the patience to teach him bite inhibition for another week, it's just that, I can no longer tolerate the pain and the wounds I get everytime he bites. Also he's unlikely to let go even if I "yelp" or say "Ouch!" etc.. He doesn't respond to the training that much. I believe I did everything right, but I still can't see any progress. Will he ever outgrow this kind of behavior, or will it be like that until adulthood? Are there more things you can suggest on how can I decrease his obsession with biting people's legs?

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    Senior Member Amaryllis's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    There is a sticky called "The Bite Stops Here" either in this forum or the training forum. Just do what it says and your puppy will learn not to bite. It takes a while, though. You don't get results in 5 minutes.
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    puppies are mouthy. Legs and feet are at their level, they move and seem fun. Keep working on it, it will get better. there are a billion threads about the same thing, puppies that age bite. It's not obsessive, it is a stage. So keep trying to get him interested in other stuff, before you know it, it will be better and you can enjoy walks without leash-chewing and pant-chewing and pet your dog without bleeding wounds. it will happen
    "be kind to one another." Ellen.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Daisy View Post
    puppies are mouthy. Legs and feet are at their level, they move and seem fun. Keep working on it, it will get better. there are a billion threads about the same thing, puppies that age bite. It's not obsessive, it is a stage. So keep trying to get him interested in other stuff, before you know it, it will be better and you can enjoy walks without leash-chewing and pant-chewing and pet your dog without bleeding wounds. it will happen
    I tried giving him different sorts of chew toys, but he loses interest on them after a few seconds. I give him treats every time he picks up a toy to give him the idea that chew toys are more fun and rewarding, but it seems he never learn. What can you suggest on how to make chew toys more interesting for him?

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaryllis View Post
    There is a sticky called "The Bite Stops Here" either in this forum or the training forum. Just do what it says and your puppy will learn not to bite. It takes a while, though. You don't get results in 5 minutes.
    Yep, I've read that thread, days before I got him, and I've been training him since Day2

  6. #5
    Senior Member hanksimon's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Yes, this is a very common problem with Labs and Rotties (and Pits), b/c they tend to be very tough, playful dogs, not knowing their own strength, and are very tolerant to pain. Despite any reputation of the other breeds, I believe that a Lab pup is one of the worst for nipping. For these breeds, I believe that "play" is 'trained out' ... given half a chance, in my experience, they'll learn to play for at 11 years (and counting :-) ).

    The Bite Stops Here takes about 3 days to kick in, even then you only get a reduction of bloodletting, slowly resulting in bloodfree nipping, leading to mouthing, etc. Depending on the reaction of the pup, you don't have to use a Yelp!, you can say Ouch!!!, or Oops, where you want a marking word, to indicate when you are withdrawing attention.

    Re-read the Sticky:the Bite Stops Here. perhaps you need to try a little longer. Read this and note the 3 days and the apology....maybe, he ignored the Yelp!, because you ignored the apology. Instead of the Yelp, you can say Ouch! or Oops!

    Some Tweaks to Bite Inhibition (to get him to stop biting when he wants to play or otherwise):
    1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw... don't step on his paw for a sample :-). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. (Look for the startle) Praise and pet. He'll bite.
    2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. He'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
    3. Whenshe bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. This is important. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip...
    4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (He's still hungry...)
    5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

    You can modify the number of steps, but not what you do... for example, you can leave in a huff :-), after the second nip or even the first, but you have to provide a vocal marker, to give him something to react to. I still use a light yelp with my 11 yo when he lets teeth touch skin as I give him a treat. No pressure or harm, but I want him to appear very safe to everyone.

    Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. By the third day, you should notice signficant Bite Inhibition. He may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. And, he should be less aggressive, especially, if you notice the apology. Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method.

    If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication. I currently use the yelp when my dog plays tug, then runs with the toy, when he fetches and keeps it out of reach or when he takes a treat too quickly....

    Dogs will grab for tug toy and take along some skin. With good Bite Inhibition, as well as withdrawing attention, you can teach most dogs to slow down grabbing, while still being able to rip your arm out of the socket but pulling. My dog is polite and will return my arm to me, so that we can continue playing.

    Let us know, and try to figure out exact what is not working in this communication with your pup.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Quote Originally Posted by hanksimon View Post
    Yes, this is a very common problem with Labs and Rotties (and Pits), b/c they tend to be very tough, playful dogs, not knowing their own strength, and are very tolerant to pain. Despite any reputation of the other breeds, I believe that a Lab pup is one of the worst for nipping. For these breeds, I believe that "play" is 'trained out' ... given half a chance, in my experience, they'll learn to play for at 11 years (and counting :-) ).

    The Bite Stops Here takes about 3 days to kick in, even then you only get a reduction of bloodletting, slowly resulting in bloodfree nipping, leading to mouthing, etc. Depending on the reaction of the pup, you don't have to use a Yelp!, you can say Ouch!!!, or Oops, where you want a marking word, to indicate when you are withdrawing attention.

    Re-read the Sticky:the Bite Stops Here. perhaps you need to try a little longer. Read this and note the 3 days and the apology....maybe, he ignored the Yelp!, because you ignored the apology. Instead of the Yelp, you can say Ouch! or Oops!

    Some Tweaks to Bite Inhibition (to get him to stop biting when he wants to play or otherwise):
    1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw... don't step on his paw for a sample :-). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. (Look for the startle) Praise and pet. He'll bite.
    2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. He'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
    3. Whenshe bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. This is important. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip...
    4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (He's still hungry...)
    5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

    You can modify the number of steps, but not what you do... for example, you can leave in a huff :-), after the second nip or even the first, but you have to provide a vocal marker, to give him something to react to. I still use a light yelp with my 11 yo when he lets teeth touch skin as I give him a treat. No pressure or harm, but I want him to appear very safe to everyone.

    Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. By the third day, you should notice signficant Bite Inhibition. He may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. And, he should be less aggressive, especially, if you notice the apology. Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method.

    If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication. I currently use the yelp when my dog plays tug, then runs with the toy, when he fetches and keeps it out of reach or when he takes a treat too quickly....

    Dogs will grab for tug toy and take along some skin. With good Bite Inhibition, as well as withdrawing attention, you can teach most dogs to slow down grabbing, while still being able to rip your arm out of the socket but pulling. My dog is polite and will return my arm to me, so that we can continue playing.

    Let us know, and try to figure out exact what is not working in this communication with your pup.
    Thanks! I will continue training him for the next few days and see if there will be any progress. Another follow up question I want to ask is, what should I do if he doesn't let go even if I yelp or say "ouch"/"oops"? There were several times he didn't let go so I had to slowly pull him away. I tried distracting him with toys or treats but he doesn't seem to care about them. I've read somewhere here that pushing the pup away will just excite him.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    I've been having the same trouble with my pup and although I've followed the instructions he wasn't getting any better. Like you, no amount of 'yelp' or or 'ouch' will stop him. My hands have been so sore from his teeth. Anyway, at the end of my tether one day, while he was biting, I blew a dog whistle at him. To my surprise he stopped immediately and sat back and when he started to bite again it was softer. The whistle just seemed to break his concentration when my voice didn't. When he started to get rougher I blew again, not hard, but he seemed to get the message and got softer again.
    Now I'm not saying this is a good or correct thing to do but it's worked for me and I can now play with him without bites all over my hands and wrists. Good luck in whatever you try.

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    Senior Member Puppy0226's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    my puppy doesn't really but but it's a form of playing for her. I pretend to cry and for us this works. She stops, feels bad and rubs up against me.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Quote Originally Posted by Cousincas View Post
    I've been having the same trouble with my pup and although I've followed the instructions he wasn't getting any better. Like you, no amount of 'yelp' or or 'ouch' will stop him. My hands have been so sore from his teeth. Anyway, at the end of my tether one day, while he was biting, I blew a dog whistle at him. To my surprise he stopped immediately and sat back and when he started to bite again it was softer. The whistle just seemed to break his concentration when my voice didn't. When he started to get rougher I blew again, not hard, but he seemed to get the message and got softer again.
    Now I'm not saying this is a good or correct thing to do but it's worked for me and I can now play with him without bites all over my hands and wrists. Good luck in whatever you try.
    Hi! Thank you for your suggestion. How long has he been biting before you managed to teach him not to? He's been with me now for 10 or 11 days, so I guess I have to try what you said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Puppy0226 View Post
    my puppy doesn't really but but it's a form of playing for her. I pretend to cry and for us this works. She stops, feels bad and rubs up against me.
    Thanks! It's good that she felt bad and stopped, when you pretended to cry I did this once too, but it was terrible. He just jumped on to my knees and started to nibble on me haha. But I guess I'll have to try this again, but it's going to be more convincing. I think it was really obvious to him that I was just pretending last time

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    "Crying" is only a quick fix. Withdrawing attention by leaving the play area is much more effective.

    Don't pull when nipped, b/c you can hurt yourself. But you can try using both hands to open his mouth. Someone else listed using a loud whistle to startle the dog.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    A loud single clapping of my hands and saying a guttteral "eh" sound (hard to describe) has been really working with my pup. I also withhold play for a few minutes. I had a hard time doing the yelp so tried this instead.
    Amy, my big Lab mix, found by the side of the road
    Lil Chocolate the Chihuahua, previous owner passed away
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    What sound you make is not critical... If yelp doesn't work, you can say "eh," "Bully!" or "Dunbar!" :-) With young pups, the yelp can surprise the pup. Clapping serves that purpose, initially. Then, you continue to repeat that sound: "eh" and the pup associates the sound with "Please don't do that!" ... which you reinforce by withdrawing attention ("punish" is probably more precise, but it confuses the process).

    The important things are that it takes about 3 days for the pup to get it, that you have to reward the pup for backing off, and that you have to recognize and reward an 'apology.' Also, my dog is 11yo with a soft mouth, and I still have to give a small tune-up every once in a while.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Hi!

    My dog still bites a lot and bites hard, despite 3 weeks of bite inhibition training. I've tried all sorts of sounds to startle him when he bites, but he doesn't seem to care. I also used a whistle, but i just got the same effect. He will only let go, if I pick him. I've read "The Bite Stops Here" several times just to make sure I'm doing the training correctly. His biting habit is starting to worry me.

    Today was a very difficult day for me and my pup. This afternoon, he bit my younger brother. I was playing with the dog and training him at the same time. He was running around the room, biting everything he sees, whether it be hard as concrete or as soft as rugs. My brother then came inside the room, and my dog suddenly ran into him and bit his leg. I'm not really sure whether it was a normal bite or a warning bite, all I know is that he bit hard. I'm really the only one who has the patience for this kind of dog behavior. As much as I want to keep him indoors, I had to move him outside in the yard. We have some sort of pen/coop there which is spacious, well fenced, and roofed. I will have him stay there so he can no longer bite others. He has also developed some sort of "hardheadedness". Whenever I pick him up when he's doing something he's not supposed to do, he will bite my hand. Actually, he will bite whenever I stop him from running, barking, peeing, etc... He would sometimes growl when I say a firm "No". I am starting to think that there's something wrong with him. I've had dogs before (though i got them when they were already adults), but this is the first time I got one with this kind of temperament.

    Can you guys please suggest what I should really do to stop him from biting me and others?? Is this really normal for some dogs/pups?? I have no problems with him running around and biting shoes or furniture, I just want him to stop biting people.

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    Senior Member hanksimon's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Lab and Rotties play by biting hard. Adolescent pups (yours is still a a baby) will tussle with each other and sometimes come back with bloody mouths.. all good fun... b/c they are so tolerant of pain, and assume that so is everyone else.

    Not being there, I assume that your pup was excited, and used your brother as a chew toy - he was not snarling, or growling. Although he may have been barking and growling, but not aggressively. Regardless, biting hard still hurts.

    I'm guessing that you need some help, so someone can observe. I also assume you don't have the money for a trainer.

    1. Download: http://www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads and read the section on Bite Inhibition.
    2. You need a sound that makes a difference. I suggest a loud, natural OUCH!!! ... not angry, just indignant. Be prepared.
    3. Go into the pen where he is and play with him.
    4. When he bites you, scream OUCH!!! and leave the pen immediately.
    5. If he barks at you when are outside of the pen, then Stop with your back to him for about 15 sec. You'll have to judge next step...
    6. You can go back in and pet him, playing more, and getting bitten again... scream Ouch!!! and leave, following to Step#5
    7. OR, you can go inside the house for a 2 min. timeout, then go back into the pen to play with him.

    OUCH!!! tells him what he did wrong, leaving tells him the consequence. He does not know that nipping is wrong, and you have to be very consistent with your sound and your actions for 3 days, so he can understand the consequence of his actions, and try to modify it.

    When he barks at you when you leave, he's 'saying' that he doesn't understand. If he playbows, that is an excellent sign that he is trying to tell you he is playing. When you go back to play in these situations, you are reinforcing his attempt to understand and learn how to play nice. Notice on the second day, if he bites a little more gently. Stick with this approach for 3 days. Don't clap, don't use a whistle, don't use a distraction, don't bring in other people during this training. People can come in (and get nipped) when you aren't doing this training. On the other hand, completely controlling his environmnet for 3 days is not too much to ask. When you mix methods, the pup doesn't understand and it doesn't work. Read the original way that Dr. Dunbar wrote it.

    If you follow Steps 1 - 7 and he is still biting hard on Thursday morning, then you might try a different method, but don't mix methods. You may need a trainer to come help you.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    After 3 weeks of constantly trying to train my dog to stop biting me and others, here are some important things i noticed:

    1. He's always excited. He bites a lot when he is excited.
    -- I am not really sure why, but I guess this due to boredom. He's usually alone with his chew toys (which he rarely plays with) in the pen from late morning to dusk. I am in school mondays to saturdays, from 10am to 6pm. I feed him a full meal before I leave. I walk him right after I get back from school. Though it is difficult, I try to walk him for 20 minutes. Walking him is quite hard since he prefers to chew on my legs and shoes, or investigate everything he sees on the sidewalk (whether it be trash or wheels of parked cars). He would also try to chase after other people. I spend the rest of the night until 11pm with him, unless I have so many homeworks. I give him a small meal right before I go to bed. I let him urinate/poop anywhere inside the pen. He has access to clean water all the time.

    2. He would rarely let go (when he bites), despite any sound I make.
    -- I have to pick him up so he would let go of my leg. Then commences the hand-biting.

    3. He doesn't "apologize" when I withdraw attention.
    -- He will just start to bite again, and chase me when I try to leave the area.

    4. When he bites, he will roll his head left and right, making it more painful.
    -- I am not sure whether he does this because he's playing, or it's due to some sort of aggression.

    5. He will never stay in one place.
    -- He runs around the area, stopping only to pee/poop, to eat,to sleep, or when he finds one of his chew toys interesting to play with. I thought he only does this whenever I'm present, but he's still ballistic even when nobody's around (I have observed him from afar).

    For 3 weeks, I only managed to do a "perfect" bite inhibition training only a handful of times, because of the reasons I mentioned above.

    I am not considering help from a trainer yet, since the fees of dog trainers in my country is very expensive (basic obedience costs roughly twice the advance obedience training expenses in the US, or even more)

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    It sounds like he's playing (although the play is very rough) is he interested in playing games such as tug of war? Have you tried making a flirt pole and allowing him to play with it? What other excercise is he getting? As a Lab/Rottie mix he most likely has a TON of energy and needs a safe way to expend it, cooping him up in a pen will not do this and WILL lead to problems due to lack of socailization. He's old enough now he should be taken for 15-20 minute walks at least twice a day as well as the training and in yard play.
    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    A pup won't play by himself in a pen, even with lots of toys, so he's 'storing' his play time energy for when you come home... This may explain why he's wild after you come home. The ballistic behavior is similar to what you might see with a 2 year old child. You need more ways that you can burn off that energy. Giving him a Kong in the morning may help, also.

    There is also the difficulty that he's only 11 weeks old, so you shouldn't take him for long walks where there are other dogs, until he's had all of his shots. On the other hand, you can let him play with dogs who are up to date on their shots, on your property. That's another facet of Bite Inhibtion, allowing other dogs to train him to bite more softly. See if you can find some friendly, high energy dogs that will play with him once or twice a week after work. That would help a lot with managing his energy.

    As far as the apology, have you seen him bark while running, perform a play bow, or run in a zig-zag pattern, maybe barking each time he switches direction? Those may be play-eliciting behaviors, especially in an 8 week pup. You might try playing his game and chasing him to help burn off energy. After an hour of play like this, you can try to start some training. The Free Downloads explain how to do this step-by-step.

    The biting and rolling is a common predator play behavior... He doesn't know that it hurts. That is a good time to try to substitute a squeaky, toy to play tug of war, instead of your arm.

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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Hi

    Yesterday, as I was playing with my dog, I got a sudden sight of a water spray bottle in the garden tools next to the pen. I read somewhere that spray bottles are also being used in dog training. So i grabbed the bottle and washed it thoroughly, and filled it with water. I filled it only with drinking water, no vinegar, no lemon juice, just water. Whenever my dog bites and jumps on me, I sprayed on his face, accompanied with a firm 'No', and sometimes a loud 'Ssshh' sound. I spray on him whenever he bites, pounces, or claw my legs or feet.

    Tonight, I have observed that he bites less frequent than the days before. His bites are still hard sometimes, but now he will immediately let go, unlike before wherein he locks his jaws whenever he bites. I'm kind'a seeing some progress, but I'm hesitant to continue using the spray bottle method. I really don't know if it's a good way of training the dog. What do you guys think??

    I also noticed that he's still overly excited when there are other people around. My mom checked on me once, and the dog goes ballistic again after seeing my mom. I'm quite having a hard time properly introducing my mom and my brother to him. Mom is quite afraid of dogs, so I prevent my dog from coming near her until I eliminate his frequent and hard biting. I'm worried my mom would get a heart attack if the puppy bites her, even if it's just a soft bite. My brother is also not interested in animals, so I can't really convince him to play or socialize with the pup. Since the dog is a rottie mix, I am assuming that socialization is vital in his training, just like with pure rottweilers. My mom "talks" with the pup, and feeds him from outside the pen (she uses some sort of stick with a hook to get the food bowl). I specifically asked her not to go inside the pen, since I'm worried she might have a bad experience due to my dog being nippy.

    Should I really asked my mom and bro to play with the pup, or will it still be okay if I just limit their means of socialization by "talking" to the pup from outside the pen??

    and one more thing.. any good alternatives for Kong toys? These aren't available/for sale in my country. I've looked for them in all popular pet stores here, but they aren't really available.

    In any case, I also read in a recent thread here that dogs will get calmer and more focused as they reach 1yr of age. If this is true, I guess my dog is like this because he's still in the "pain in the ass" stage. I used to own an Akita mix before, and I got him when he was already an adolescent. I'm really new with everything about puppy behavior.

    I'm really sorry if I ask too many questions, but all your help and suggestions have been so much of help, and are all highly appreciated.

  20. #19
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    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    Definitely try the flirt pole, you can buy one or make your own pretty easily. It could do a lot to channel that need to bite at moving things into something appropriate. Also really look into the playmate idea, I think part of whats making training so difficult is he's way too wired to think about anything else but play. Tug is a good option too as well as fetch. It sounds to me like he's working out some frustration by "playing" really hard with you because hes got too much energy for just a 20 minute walk.

    As for socialization I think your mom and brother should learn how to interact with the dog in closer quarters than through the fence. Try to do it when he's calm after an hour or two of intense play. You don't want your mom to be afraid of him and you want him to learn to interact with people other than you. Of course when he has all his shots take him out to socialize with lots of other dogs.

    I think if the spray bottle is working and he isnt acting frightened it may be okay. Just make sure you are doing much more positive than negative, reward what you want and try to limit punishment as much as possible.

  21. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    206

    Re: Puppy wants to play-bite 90% of the time

    My pup (now looking like a dog at 7.5 months) sometimes bursts with the urge to bite and nip. I mean, she is beside herself with wanting to do something very nasty... growling, snarling... and just wanting to engage in hard core wrestle fights. This, to me, looks a lot like she might behave when fighting with a badger. (she appears to be full of feisty Dachshund DNA/behaviors)

    People discuss offering other toys, and that is an excellent idea, but putting myself in the dog's shoes, NOTHING compares to the perfectly scrumptious feel of soft human flesh for dogs that are so predisposed. That's just my opinion, of course.

    For some dogs, it probably takes supreme self discipline to restraint that version of horseplay. Frankly, the only time I have imposed a notable penalty on this dog has been when she engages in this rather dramatic form of Badger-fighting play. Yes, I can distract her with a toy, but I want to pointedly address the actual problem behavior. After some thought, I decided to try a mild penalty. Let me say that I am a fit guy who loves to horseplay with dogs and have confidence that, when I need to, I can hold most dogs of most any size perfectly still. I wouldn't recommend that anyone try my technique unless they enjoy risking their safety. Anyway, when my current dog attempts to engage in the snarling bite play (and her teeth attempt to shut on my skin), I hold her still. It lasts 5 seconds at the most. In her case, she goes utterly limp.

    Her only warning comes from my calmly stated, "no biting" when I see her attitude shifting into her snarl-bite-mouth mode. I don't shriek at her. (not that this is wrong, I have somehow adopted a kind of calm leadership philosophy.... it's just a pet peeve, too... I don't like the idea of owning a dog that I must scream at). If the time comes to scream, I want that moment to be truly remarkable and rare.... and this makes it extra startling too!

    I do allow her to open her mouth, and put her mouth over my flesh, and bare her teeth and make all manner of nasty sounds.... letting her express those urges. I don't encourage it, but I don't react to it either. Of course, I'll offer all kinds of outlets (if I'm in the mood) such as tug and other toys stuff. However, I give the single calm warning that biting is not acceptable. Sometimes, just giving that warning makes her close her mouth and become sweet if only momentarily.

    In addition, I make sure that I expose myself to her nasty behavior, too. I don't wince, pull away, or protect myself (although I have my strategy all lined up if I see that she is going to lung at me). I'll even lay flat on my back. I make sure that she is given the opportunity and that I am prepared to react both positively for the good choices and negatively for the bad.

    Although I am not entirely out of the woods, and I'm wondering when she will slip up and leave a scratch on my face! She is an animal and I wouldn't be surprised. I think I have seen her worst, though, and that phase has passed.

    She is doing well. I do try to sympathize, though, with the delights of just clamping down on soft human flesh... I get it.... it's probably great and beats any toy that can be offered. I can see that she is bursting to experience a good fight. Now, combine that feeling with the added frustration of NOT being able to express it!! That just compounds her appetite for a fierce bit of play.

    It doesn't always look like play, of course. This fleeting fight mood intimidates my girlfriend and I can understand why... it doesn't look happy in the traditional sense... especially to a non-dog person.

    I can also give her a directive in the midst of her beastly mood, and she complies.... but I want to address the problem head on rather than distract from it. Now, if she didn't comply, then we'd focus on that.

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