Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy
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Thread: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Mar 2019

    Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Hello, we are looking for help with our 3 month old puppy. I know he is a puppy but his behavior seems like there is something going on with him. He is a Saint Bernard Coonhound mix. He is constantly biting us whenever we get close to him. We try to discipline him but it seems he gets worse when we do. If we throw him a toy he will start to run after it then turn around and dart right at us and bite us.

    If anyone has any advice that would be greatly appreciated, thanks! I have posted pictures and videos below.

    Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy-20190307_003741175_ios.jpgAttachment 246444Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy-20190307_003753333_ios.jpgAttachment 246448


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  3. #2
    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Jun 2011

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Totally normal puppy behavior. You actually are encouraging it (however accidentally) in the second video.

    Redirect -or preemptively teach appropriate behavior- with plenty of appropriate tug toys. I actually recommend puppy owners carry a bite rag (like a dish towel sized rag made of whatever material, or a skineez type tug). Simply throwing a toy or shoving one in a pup's mouth is not as exciting as something that squirms, flails, makes sounds, and fights back (ie people and clothing). And something a puppy can easily sink their sharp little teeth into, like a rag type material, is much more satisfying for them than a big rope or rubber bone.

    Time outs are also a good thing. As in, from time to time put your puppy in a place where he can be with the family but physically not touch you.
    Soro - 4.22.06 - retriever/X
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  4. #3
    Senior Member Jen2010's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    British Columbia, Canada

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    I agree with Canyx, this seems like a completely normal puppy doing puppy things. He is adorable btw.

    By moving your hands around like in the second video you are making it more fun for the dog to play bite since moving object are much more fun to play with.

    Put your arms behind your back and don't move them. Stand up and "be a tree". Redirect the puppy to an appropriate toy. Walk away. If all else fails, put him behind a baby gate or x-pen for a time out. Eventually he will learn that biting humans is not rewarding, but it will take time. It might even get worse for a while when he's teething, but be consistent and he will grow out of it.
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    Kane & Pepper

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Lillith's Avatar
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    Feb 2016
    North Dakota

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Completely normal. Puppies are basically velociraptors. You will look like you've been in a fight with a thorn push and lost terribly for many months.

    Like others have said, it is important to make biting humans non-rewarding. Teach them to play with appropriate things. Remember, puppies come from a litter, and they played by biting each other! Our delicate human skins can't handle that, so it is your job to teach them that although they can't play bite humans, they can play with toys that the humans are holding. If they do not comply, playtime ends.

    Flailing, yelling, and shoving are likely going to excite the puppy more, so that is not advisable.

  7. #5
    Senior Member NadiaK's Avatar
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    Feb 2017

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    I have a 5 month old puppy and he does much of the same thing. It can be quite challenging especially since my pups adult teeth are coming in. I have found that the best thing is to remove myself from her when she starts biting. I just step over the baby gate in the kitchen and go into the family room and sit down. This upsets her as she would prefer that her favorite chew toy stay with her. She will usually calm down after a few minutes and then I go back in the kitchen. Sometime just putting her in the crate for a few minutes helps as well. Others have already given you excellent advice.

  8. #6
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    May 2017

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    You're making it worse by reacting. Get up and leave the room. They have to learn that biting humans = end of play, period. And praise like crazy when you see him bite a toy.

  9. #7
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    Jun 2016

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    What a nice puppy.

    First video he actually BRINGS a toy. Unfortunately it is a difficult toy to engage with as it has no way for you to grab it. Second video you invite the dog to bite and the bites are not really hard (but needle teeth make them ouchy).

    Get a toy you can engage him with. Carry one with you. A two or one handled tug is a great thing to have and carry with you. Make the toy active so he wants to chase it and grab it. https://www.hallmarkk9.com/gappaysti...her5x25cm.aspx

    When he starts to teeth (5-6 months) his need to chew will go up but tug toys need to stop for awhile until his baby teeth are gone and the adult teeth have set. During that time raw meaty bones (frozen) and kongs with peanut butter or yogurt (frozen over night) and ice cubes can be really good chew items.

  10. #8
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    Feb 2019

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    OMG. Absolutely not. A lot of breeds can be problematic, and particularly Saint Bernards if not correctly bred. [And don't worry, I've already been thrown under the bus regarding my other post, so it's just a matter of time how long I last here.] This dog has a personality with a very high prey drive, and exactly as you say, is triggered by unstructured family interaction. Meaning the puppy gets over-stimulated. Here's the Red Flag (and I don't mean Red Zone) which is "We TRY to discipline him *BUT* it seems he gets worse when we do." Holy cow, WTF. This is where it all starts, and ends up at a Rescue. A lot of folks will label the dog as the problem, when it's the people. The words "we try to discipline..." is a qualification. When the puppy should be in (positive! rewarding!! fulfilling!) training at all times. Meaning this puppy needs to work for privileges. And that gamesmanship *can* be fun! But mouth behavior should be de-emphasized. Michael Ellis (Leerburg) has a free video on the site about redirecting behavior. The right way. Their business is training protection dogs, and teaching for competition. And the dogs with with prey drive are taught early to be under the complete control of the owner. The puppy needs to learn to focus on his owner, go through marker training, and maybe learn a fun interactive behavior like "nose work" (a totally benign yet stimulating challenge). These people need to consult a behaviorist (I would talk with a Saint Bernard fancier's group, to understand the breed personality, quirks and rewards!) Then spend every waking moment, creating a controlled relationship with the puppy before its too late. We just got finished with another not so pleasant thread ... you know the one.

    I'm going to edit my own post, to confirm this isn't about abnormal puppy play at all (of course). But the attitude *could* become a problem considering the size and the natural assertiveness of the breed or temperament. However such energy and enthusiasm is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of. To introduce challenges (gamesmanship) which will help satisfy the natural curiosity and intelligence of the puppy! Training only means providing structure, confidence through opportunity for reward, which makes for team building! At 3 months, hopefully there are 16 years ahead ... and this is the stage of groundwork! Enjoy the best young years that a puppy brings! But honor the work required!
    Last edited by Pacificsun; 03-14-2019 at 09:14 PM.

  11. #9
    Senior Member parus's Avatar
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    Apr 2014

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Pacificsun, out of curiosity, what's your background with regard to dog training? Do you train dogs for any particular activity or purpose? What dogs do you own? Do you have any particular training yourself? etc.

  12. #10
    Senior Member Crantastic's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Prince Edward Island, Canada

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Agree with all the other knowledgeable people in this thread -- he's acting like a normal puppy, and you're accidentally encouraging this kind of bitey play. Here are a couple great chapters from an Ian Dunbar book: Puppy Biting and Teaching Bite Inhibition. Give those a read!

    Crystal the Papillon and Casper the Alaskan Klee Kai

  13. #11
    Senior Member parus's Avatar
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    Apr 2014

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    I'll be another voice saying his behavior looks like normal puppy stuff to me. I don't see aggression there, just a rough play style. I'm sure it doesn't help that he's a big boy for his age.

    My standard poodle pup is going through a similar phase but thankfully has a soft mouth. It's better when we play with him in ways that preclude teeth-on-me, like fetch and tug. He also chills out nicely if we work on commands - it's a game to him, too, but he has to concentrate. As others have said, it's usually easy enough to redirect biting onto a toy. If he's too amped up and relentlessly bitey-bitey-bitey because of overexcitement or being overtired, mine will usually crash and take a nap within ten minutes of being crated or penned, then wake up in a milder mood.

    In addition to bitey play, mine is always wanting to chew on my clothes, regardless of the fact that there's skin under there, lol. With milk teeth and then adult teeth coming in in quick succession, pups feel a lot of pressure in their jaws. That, combined with natural exploration, makes chewing a pretty compulsive behavior. Gotta channel it safely and appropriately until they both learn and grow out of it.
    Last edited by parus; 03-13-2019 at 09:16 PM.

  14. #12
    Member dalans's Avatar
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    Nov 2018
    Vancouver, Canada

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    Oh God. I do not miss those days. Our first dog (GSD/Husky/Malamute named 'Samson') was an absolute nightmare alligator for months and months! He had been weaned too early; we got him at about 8-10 weeks. He was super cute and totally wild at first. Eventually he turned into one of the most fun, intelligent and awesome dogs ever.

    Key take-aways:

    1) This is totally normal. This is not aggression. At all. He's cute and being a crazy pup. Fun for him, not so much for you.
    2) When he is nippy, and that might be almost all the time, try not to react, pull away, etc. - good to freeze and even better to leave the room altogether so he learns to chill out. I find that holding a pup's mouth shut is totally ineffective and makes it even more of a game by the way.
    3) once he is a little older, you will want him to learn bite inhibition - that will involve him learning the difference between a gentle gnaw and a painful (to you) bite. That involves yelping like a puppy and leaving the room when he bites too hard.
    4) from there, you will want to teach him not to bite at all.

    3) and 4) might seem contradictory, but they are not. A dog needs to understand that effect of their bite pressure before they learn that biting is not allowed at all. You do not want a big powerful dog to not know the difference.

    Also, and this is a contentious point, you might want to consider socializing him with other dogs. Back when we had Samson, I found a breeder out in the country that had a bit of a daycare with good big dogs running around a fenced acreage. I dropped off Samson there the first day, and when I picked him up 4 hours later he was soaked, coated in mud, exhausted, and happier than I had ever seen him. Maybe he was 4 months old or so. He had basically spent the day trying to 'play' with nice big dogs (that is, attacking/harassing them) that essentially took turns keeping him in check by holding him down the way parents do to their pups. This was supervised by a nice woman the way - she told me all about it laughingly - it was her dogs that spent the day beating up (controlling) Samson. A few visits later (rinse/repeat) he was so much tamer. Dogs had trained him better than I could.

    Back in those days (this goes back 25 years or so), training dogs was different. It was less positive and treat-oriented and more physical and took cues from pack theory (which has since been somewhat debunked). Nevertheless, and I hope I do not offend anyone here, it was somewhat useful to restrain him from time to time when he was a pup - to hold him down much like the adult dogs would do. I am hesitant to state this though, because restraint can easily become a tactic that can go the wrong way and damage your relationship, cause frustration and aggression, and even go to the point of abuse. But in moderation it can be helpful (holding the pup down). Another out-of-date tactic was to make him uncomfortable with biting you by shoving your hand into his mouth if he bites your hand - making it an unpleasant experience for him.

    Any trainers on this thread have an opinion about those tactics? Are they useful or just old fashioned backwards thinking? Again, I am hesitant to bring it up and I don't think these ideas are magic bullets or anything, just tools that are either still useful or do not belong in the kit at all anymore.

    Good luck and please keep us posted!

    Last edited by dalans; 03-18-2019 at 03:32 PM.

  15. #13
    Senior Member oldNgray's Avatar
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    Aug 2018

    Re: Looking for help with our 3 month old puppy

    My 5-month-old border collie pup is EXTREMELY bitey. She's getting better. It's not nonstop Chomp on Mommy like it used to be. Some days she's fine. But late in the day, especially when she's overly tired or excited she sometimes loses all self-control. When she's like that, she's nothing like your pup. She jumps, attacks, jumps, attacks, jumps, attacks. She is NOT being mean. She's just being overly aggressive in her bitey border collie attempt to initiate play. Like you, I'm covered with scars, scabs and bruises. OUCH!

    How many times have you read that you are supposed to yelp "ouch" to let the pup know he's biting too hard? This is supposed to mimic their sibling playtime and teach them to bite softer. My pup was separated from the rest of her litter at 6 weeks, so I thought yelping "ouch" was the solution. Well, in our case, it was like adding fuel to a fire. In her baby border collie brain, a sharp "ouch!" meant "That was fun! Bite me again!" My guess is that the same thing is happening with your pup.

    I don't have the option to just walk away because I don't have a sealed off room where I feel safe leaving her unsupervised. Instead, I have to get my girl into her playpen or crate. This is problematic in that every time I reached for her collar to grab her or unclip her leash before putting her into her playpen or crate, she'd nip me.

    My trainer's suggestion for a bitey puppy is to FEED, FEED, FEED and give her lots of time to nap in her crate (time out).

    If she gets bitey, I use a treat to entice her into a sit or a down. At first, it felt like I was rewarding her for biting. But it's actually a way to redirect her attention from biting my hand to something more positive. Now, if I want to clip on or unclip her leash, I have a tiny bit of treat in my hand, will direct her into a down, Clip, treat her again.

    Canyx recommended a "time out" for your pup. I agree. Our puppies need to nap. Toddlers get over-tired and they cry. Puppies get over-tired and they bite.
    When you do "Time Out" do NOT do what I did. I thought of "time out" as a punishment, like the kind you'd give a school child. I'd shake a finger at her, say "Bad girl! You get a time out." Then I'd put her in her crate. This taught my pup to be wary of going into her crate. I was WRONG! Instead, think of a time out as similar to putting a crying infant down for a nap. "There, there. You're just overly tired. Time for a little nap."

    When my girl gets a little nippy, I now bring out the treats and have her do some puppy push-ups (sit, down, sit, down) then I use the treats to lure her into her crate or playpen, all the while using soft, upbeat language. "Here princess" (hold out treat). "Let's go." (step and treat). "Here's another nibble." (step and treat again) "Kennel." (toss treat into crate. When she follows "Good girl." (toss in another crate when she's inside) "It's time for your nappy-nap." (and give one final treat before quietly walking out of the room, closing the door, running down the hall and plopping onto the sofa with a heavy sigh, all the while knowing the reprieve will last no more than an hour).

    Many people recommend giving dogs a frozen Kong in their crate. My pup has not yet figured out how to eat frozen or wet food from inside a Kong. So my trainer suggested I give my pup the occasional raw, frozen chicken wing to chomp on as she settles in for a nap. (Raw ONLY! No cooked bones)

    You mentioned discipline but did not say how you disciplined your pup. When I was a kid, parents spanked their children on the butt with their hand or a belt. And they smacked their dogs on the nose with their hand or rolled up newspaper. It was considered normal and appropriate back then (more than 40 years ago). These days, that all has changed. Dogs are no longer disciplined. They are removed from the situation, bad behavior is ignored (initially a hard concept for me to grasp) and good behavior (which we usually ignore) is rewarded often.

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