Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?
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Thread: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

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    Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Hi everyone! I need help, please.

    I posted earlier about my 4 month old male lab mix. The pound said they thought he was a lab/golden retriever mix... but seening some pit bull mixes, he has the SAME color markings with white patches as some of those.

    He started with nipping and pulling at our clothes (jeans & sweaters, etc) and going for our hands as if we were playing. At first, he would stop if we shook a can with a few pennies in it and saying "NO" but now, nothing. He'll still try to bite us.

    We have tried to do the whole "OUCH" and "YIPP" thing, but he doesn't care. We tried to leave the room for a few minutes after saying a firm "NO" and no attention... we did this for a solid weekend, at least a good 50+ times over a few days... still would go right to trying to bite us. We tried a few days of putting him in a "time out" in his crate for 10 min at a time... but it just seemed like he ended up spending most of the evening in there with only a few min out of the crate before he'd bite us again.

    I noticed that he will work himself up out of the blue and start to bite furniture or our rug, then when we tell him "NO" and give him another toy, he gets pissed. If I pull him away from our rug and try to switch it with a toy, he'll try to bite, sometimes "play bark" it seems, and continue to try to go for skin. This same behavior comes when he'll stay by the baby gate that separates our house, since we don't want him in the bedrooms with our two cats. He'll lay down right in front of it, and if he sees one of my cats he'll start to bark and dig at the ground... if we tell him "NO" or try to pull him away from it to go play with a toy instead, he'll instantly let out a sudden bark and start to bite the air in our direction.

    He gets fed 2 times a day, and goes on long morning and evening walks. Sometimes I'm on my rollerblades so his walk often leaves him running and working for long periods of time. He has plenty of chew toys and bones to play with, and often try to change the play we do with him to fetch, no tug o war. I train with him as well teaching him to sit and down, etc.

    We're just worried about this aggression and fear we can't afford a behaviorist. I have read countless forums and all it seems like I can find is the whole bite inhibition "OUCH" thing or time outs/leaving the room stuff. It doesn't work for me, neither does spraying the rugs/couches with sour apple or bitter spray (he'll continue to bite on it regardless).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

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    Senior Member skelaki's Avatar
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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Time outs do not work to correct behavior because dogs are not people. They do not sit in time out thinking about why they are there. Time outs can be useful to give yourself a break when you start getting frustrated or angry but not as a correction tool.

    You should find a trainer who is experienced in dealing with aggression, such as as schutzhund, French Ring, Police or Protection k9 trainer and have them come out and evaluate your dog. An evaluation visit shouldn't be too expensive.

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    Member GermanShepherdMama's Avatar
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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Like the previous poster suggested, you need to hire a professional trainer to help you with this problem. If you call local vets, or even call your own, they will probably have a trainer the recommend. Most of these trainers offer free first evaluations, you can ask them if they do or you can look in the phone book for ads that say they offer the consultation for free. Be careful if you use the phone book and make sure you screen the potential trainer thoroughly.

    That said, if you truly cannot afford to do this then you AT LEAST need to enroll your pup in a group obedience class. Obedience classes will go a long way in helping you communicate with your dog and teaching him appropriate behavior. It will also help you learn the techniques that will help him in his day-to-day life, such as stopping biting behavior. What you are describing could be the beginning of aggressive behavior, but 4 months is very young. I HAVE seen dogs with serious aggression problems as young as 4 months, but it is very, very rare. More often, the aggressive behavior is due to an environment without consistent, appropriate behavior modification.

    I would say that you need help with this pup for sure. If you truly cannot afford a professional trainer (which I think will be more useful at this point than a behaviorist, though I'm not saying a behaviorist wouldn't be helpful) then call around to a few. My mom is a dog trainer and she offers a free consulation and also allows her clients to pay on a payment plan. She has also lowered her fees for clients that were really desperate for help that they simply could not afford. At the very least, a puppy group class will not be expensive, even the chain pet stores, like Petsmart, offer them.

    Also, you say he came from the pound. If you call them I am sure they will be more than happy to offer some help and do what they can. If it was a Humane Society or an ASPCA then they will be even more helpful because they have more resources at hand.

    Good luck in your search and keep us updated. A new puppy can be so much fun and you need to get the situation under control so that you can enjoy his puppyhood!
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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Quote Originally Posted by skelaki View Post
    Time outs do not work to correct behavior because dogs are not people. They do not sit in time out thinking about why they are there. Time outs can be useful to give yourself a break when you start getting frustrated or angry but not as a correction tool.
    Wow... I am so confused right now. So many people have suggested using this method, on this forum even! That's why I started to use this with him... if he got too rowdy and nipped at us it's an immediate stop of play to let him know what he did was wrong. I figured it would just take some time doing this... but now it may be doing more harm than good?

    I'll try to contact some local stores for group sessions... see what they say. Most of the classes are during the work hour week so I would have to find one open later. What else can I do at home in the meanwhile?
    Last edited by rlg2182; 01-31-2008 at 08:28 AM. Reason: quote mistake

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    Senior Member TooneyDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Quote Originally Posted by rlg2182 View Post
    Wow... I am so confused right now. So many people have suggested using this method, on this forum even!
    The time-out by itself is not the 'fix'. As it was pointed out, they don't sulk in the corner and think about their bad behavior. When you leave the room, you are taking away all attention....that's what he wants...your attention and now he doesn't have it anymore. The 'fix' comes into play when you RE-ENTER the room. What you hope to see is a new behavior...something he was previously taught to do that WILL earn your attention...like a sit or a down or even standing quietly. You immediately praise for the good behavior....THAT's what will earn your attention, not the biting and that's what you're trying to teach him.

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    When my dogs or any dog for that matter,, has my hand near its mouth and is trying to bite me. i keep my hand in its mouth and wont take it out. till the dog is uncomfortable. If it tries to nip on my leg or something.. i will gently push the dog to the ground and say NO>., leaving her on the ground for a moment. Not letting her get up till I allow her to.

    Think of a pack of wolves.. when you see a pup bite another adult, they adult doesn't take the dog and sit it in the corner or call someone.. it nips back and the pup submits and the adult sits there for a second to make sure the pup realizes the adult is in charge and that attitude is not acceptable.


    As far as the gate "pouting" situation.. don't let her sit in front of the gate. don't let her pout and don't let her bark.
    Pups "air bite" as a form of attention, not really aggression.
    When she sits at the gate and whines or barks.,, startle her.. cans with coins, loud noise, clap or even a tap on the but.. (NOT A HIT BUT A TOUCH). This will distract her train of thought. If she does it again, repeat, a third time, I would call her out of the hallway or physically remove her. Now she is in lets say the den, don't let her go back to that hallway with the gate.,,. when she yelps, digs etc.

    Roxi is lab/pit mix and after about a month of training her, i never had any problems with her biting or aggression towards people or pets..
    She grew up with another dog and 3 cats...
    she now protects my cats as if they were her own....

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    When he is pouting by the gate, I try to poke him with two fingers on his back/butt area gently, or even the tuft of the neck area. This only irritates him causing to get more excited and "air bite" while letting out barks that sound like whining. If I'm close enough he may get a nip of my hands if I'm not careful. Removing him almost always just gives him a chance to get a more firm nip down on my hands. This is the same behavior if he starts to bite at the rugs... air biting and a whiny bark.

    I think the most triggers come when he's doing one of those two things. When we attempt to correct his actions he merely gets more riled up and nips. I tried to remove myself from the room if he was going for our pant legs, etc... but when I came back into the room minutes later he would be at it with the rug/couches or baby gate all over again. Any correction or transition to a chew toy/different activity would only cause the same thing... more nipping and air biting.

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    i think he is testing you...
    he is telling you he wants to do this, leave me alone.
    let him nip you, but force your hand down his throat... and keep it there, he will soon realize biting that hand only gets it stuck in my throat...

    when he yelps or barks.. try stomping your foot on the ground (loud noise) this will break his concentration, and hopefully distract him..

    my dog chewed on a few rugs...until i finally took the rug and stuffed it in between her collar, and made her carry it around with her for 20 minutes.. i think it only took me doing that 2 times before she left it alone...
    Last edited by N2H2O; 01-31-2008 at 12:37 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    puppies are like a 2 year old.. they need a lot of attention.. you devote the time now it will pay off 1000000000x in the remaining years...

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2H2O View Post
    force your hand down his throat... and keep it there
    Something tells me I would be better off finding other advice. I would like to be able to have a dog who isn't afraid of having his teeth cleaned or mouth touched in years to come. Domesticated dogs are far from their wolve-ancestry... but I'm sure have MANY instincts that date back to a time that this behavior was needed. But something tells me the pack leader wasn't shoving his paw down a pup's mouth.

    Stomping on the ground doesn't distract him, neither does the can with pennies anymore. I haven't tried a spray bottle yet, but fear that it's in the same line of physical discipline. I'm wondering if putting a solid piece of cardboard or something on the other side of the gate so he can't see what's on the other end would help with the cat situation. I would rather not remove the rug since it's not getting to a resolution of the problem.

    I have noticed though that he will calm down a bit after he comes out of his crate. One night he was jumping off the walls, nipping and everything. A 20 min time out left him coming out of his crate and going straight for his doggy bed and going to sleep. I just wish there was a happy medium between him nipping us or completely breaking down and going to sleep.

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    have you introduced the dog to the cats? maybe he is just curious...??


    and i didn't mean shove it forcefully down his throat, but more putting your hand in there so its uncomfortable for him.

    Sorry i couldn't help.
    puppies are like a 2 year old.. they need a lot of attention.. you devote the time now it will pay off 1000000000x in the remaining years...

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    Senior Member Dogstar's Avatar
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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    For time outs, I'd honestly reduce the time to 2 minutes- and with a 4 month old pup with a history of nipping, well... this is going to take a week or 10 days to start to see a difference, in all honesty.

    Pick up some bitter apple cream/paste and use tha ton your hands and arms- and I'd work on good toy manners (lots of trading for more valuable objects and work towards equally valuable objects). You can shape non-mouthy behavior by clicking and treating for any calm, non-mouthy behavior (sit on the far side of the baby gate and chuck treats) and just totally ignore jumping on the gate, barking and other bad behavior. Do short sessions- 5-10 minutes, and when you finally get 10 seconds of good behavior (and it may be sitting and waiting for you to treat, or it may be killing a plushie right next to the gate while watching you with one eye- you shape from what you have- but your criteria would be 1. not jumping on the gate 2. playing with HIS toys, 3. not barking or being hysterical- so click for anything else and go from there)- then go for a walk!

    I'd be careful about rollerblading with such a young pup- you could seriously injure his growth plates- walks ARE good though.

    I'd play chase-and-pounce (which is like fetch only you follow him/chase with him after a thrown toy, let him pick it up, praise like mad, and throw a second (preferably identical toy) and race him for that one- he'll probably drop the first (which you should reinforce) and he'll probably START dropping the first sooner in anticipation of the second)- a lot of dogs find this MUCH more reinforcing than just playing fetch alone- and you're teaching him something USEFUL to do with his teeth.

    I honestly don't think this puppy is aggressive- he just sounds mouthy, and that's very typical of retriever mixes.

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    Sure! the dog and cats have met before. Mostly he gets excited and wants to play with them. The cats don't have any of it... they usually puff up, get scared and run under the bed. Then Leo (my pup) if let into the room will go to the bed and look under it as if to say "I see you!!" If they're up high on the counters he'll get excited and try to jump up, but never makes it... yet. The cats jump over the gate easily, leaving Leo on the other side whining for the most part... although he doesn't whine every time.

    When Leo's in his crate and the cats go to lay on us he won't bark or get all anxious... he doesn't really care. So I know he doesn't want to eat the cats... probably just play normally. This gives me much hope.

    The fetch/pounce idea sounds like fun! It does bring up an image in my mind though... there's Leo with my remote in his mouth walking away from me to play keep away. Would this game make his keep away game worse? One more question... with the usage of the apple paste on your hand... I would love it if Leo just licked nicely us instead of nipping... would repeated use of the cream get him to fear us petting him, since it could/would rub off him and would associate our hands with "stay way, you taste bad!!" I don't know the amount of this paste that would be needed to come off into his mouth if he's only using his teeth to try to bite us, instead of his lips and tongue.

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    [QUOTE
    The fetch/pounce idea sounds like fun! It does bring up an image in my mind though... there's Leo with my remote in his mouth walking away from me to play keep away. Would this game make his keep away game worse? [/quote]
    It shouldn't- you're not playing keepaway- you're racing to get to the bumper or the toy- and if he runs off with it, you throw the other one and chase IT. Whichever one he doesn't have is always the better one that you are chasing. :P

    One more question... with the usage of the apple paste on your hand... I would love it if Leo just licked nicely us instead of nipping... would repeated use of the cream get him to fear us petting him, since it could/would rub off him and would associate our hands with "stay way, you taste bad!!" I don't know the amount of this paste that would be needed to come off into his mouth if he's only using his teeth to try to bite us, instead of his lips and tongue.
    I've not had this problem when I've used it- I've found the licky behavior comes back after I've stopped using the bitter apple, but that initially, it's easier for non-trainers to deter ALL mouth-to-skin contact than say "only bites harder than x mean a time out"- the biggest thing about teaching ANYTHING to a puppy is consistancy, and while I generally teach bite inhibition (not prohibition- my guys ARE allowed to put mouths on my hands but only when it's in certain contexts initiated by me), most people do better with a black and white rule that gets relaxed later- especially if you have multiple family members. EVERYONE's got to enforce the time outs 100%, or they're not going to be effective.
    (longer post later on why this is, but I'm at work. :P)

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    Re: Time out for biting doesn't work! Aggression?

    He could also be teething at this age and his adult teeth may be starting to come in. You could also use a leash or training line to keep better control of him. Make sure you follow through and try to get him to understand that whatever he is doing and is not appropriate. If he gets too excited get him to calm down and get him to focus on you. You may also have to change no to leave it, or drop it. Play with him with two toys or two items he likes. When you get him to chew on one thing, tell him leave it, or drop it, when he does praise him and let him have the other toy or item. You could play fetch like this too.

    He could also think you are playing with him when you try to ridirect him.

    The growling could be just a protest that he doesn'tt want to stop what he is doing.

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