Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Really quick story. Had a puppy cocker spaniel when I was a kid, easiest dog in the world. Brother was allergic, had to rehome her, never got another dog out of respect for him. Now my kids are almost teenagers and with Covid, I have to admit I caved. Got the green light from my brother who still lives near me at Thanksgiving 2020. Five weeks later, I drove 5 hours to pick up a Bernese puppy with no clue what to expect. First off, thank god the dog is healthy. We've had her for 6 weeks now, she's 3.5 months old and she looks great. We feed her on a schedule and she inhales her food, which I think is good. Second, she fully grasped ringing the bells and becoming house trained in less than three weeks. I wasn't counting on hearing the bells every 45 minutes, but whatever - she usually really does have to go. Third, she's sweet as can be with my wife and two daughters. She wags her tail like crazy and gets very upset when they leave the house. Now we come to the problem:

This dog has been chewing my clothing and my arms and legs since she walked in the door. She's destroyed two jackets, three pairs of boots, two pairs of pants and at least 4-5 shirts - all dad's (mine). She starts by approaching me, I pet her, then she gets a hold of my sleeve. For a 4 month old puppy, she has one heck of a grip. Then when I start to battle her on the sleeve, she starts on my palms and forearms. She may have broken the skin once, but otherwise it's just pokes from puppy teeth that really hurt. This started the night I brought her home and it's still going on. I have read countless articles and tried countless things, absolutely nothing has worked. The more I correct her, the more riled up she gets. We've had a few rounds that ended up with growling and biting that got a little more than playful. Even when I don't correct her, she can get riled up on her own and bite harder. Here's the kicker - when the family is all together in a room, she seeks me out and plops down next to me. I wonder if this is because I'm the only one feeding her and taking her out every 45 minutes, but it's a small victory until she starts biting. I've tried the Alpha "No" routine, I've tried noises, I've tried grabbing the collar, I've tried making her sit with the house line, I've tried encouraging nicely, I've tried switching my arm for a chew toy, I've tried treat bribery, I've tried begging...you name it. I'm not going to smack the dog, no matter how hard she bites. Absolutely NOTHING works. As soon as I get her to go to the bathroom outside, she starts chewing on my boots and legs. Half the time I'm limping to the door with her still attached to my leg.

There's no way this dog is going back. She's been here 6 weeks and she gets nothing but love, my ladies would kick me out before the dog. I'm looking for something weird I haven't read about or tried yet. After 6 weeks, I'm having a hard time believing this behavior just goes away. If anything, it's worse this week than the night we got her.

Oh yeah, this dog laughs at that nature's miracle crap that you spray. It doesn't faze her. She bites right through it.

Does anyone have a secret method? I am currently reaching out to individual trainers - her first class was a waste of time and the trainer wouldn't cover biting. I know Bernese aren't supposed to be stubborn, but I've never seen a more stubborn dog than this one.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,962 Posts
This is very, very normal puppy behavior. They are land sharks.

I would suggest dropping the "Alpha dominance must lead the pack" mentality right now. It will make your life much easier. Your pup is a baby and has no idea how to behave or how she is expected to play with humans. Dogs play bite each other...she doesn't understand that's not how humans play. They explore the world with their mouths.

Note, teaching puppies bite inhibition is not a quick process...it is MONTHS of consistency. You can expect backslides around 6 months old when the dog is teething, too. And, each dog is different. Some are really mouthy and need lots of time to learn how to keep their mouths of humans...others might get it after a few weeks! And, if in six weeks you've tried "everything", you have likely confused her because you keep switching methods.

First, start by making sure you have plenty of appropriate chew toys available for her. Fleece ropes are good, or any sort of long toy, because it keeps your hands well away from puppy's mouth. When you play with her, play with a toy. Praise her for playing with that toy. She's the best dog in the world! Avoid using your hands. I know sometimes it's fun to rough house, but that's not a great idea right now. Even petting doesn't happen if she can't keep her mouth off you.

Inevitably, she's going to bite you. You should start by continuing to shove the toy in her face, but if she refuses to use the toy, get up and leave. Close a door, step over a baby gate, whatever, but all attention ends. Wait 5-10 minutes. Resume play. If the biting continues, do the same thing. Keep repeating, be consistent. The goal is for her to learn that teeth on human flesh = end of fun. Make sure your entire family is on board, too!

Destroying things is also very normal puppy behavior. Become neat freaks. Leave NOTHING within her reach. Supervise 100% of the time. When you can't supervise, she should be crated or in a dog proof room. Praise for using her toys. This isn't forever, just until she learns what items are off limits.

Also note, your corrections (noises, collar grabs, etc.) might be interpreted as play at best...or damage your relationship with the dog, at worst. Based on your description of her behavior, you're just getting her more riled up. I would quit with that.

No secret, nothing weird, just consistency and patience and the understanding that you are dealing with an infant. Set your dog up for success. Good, well mannered dogs aren't overnight, I'm afraid!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Honestly, at this point I’m happier just asking her nicely not to bite. I didn’t get a dog to yell at it, it seems stupid. Unfortunately stopping the fun when she bites doesn’t work either, that was one of the earliest attempts. Until she starts biting my kids, which she hasn’t, I don’t want to scare her. It really is funny to me that the dog somehow knew off the bat who she could and couldnt bite - I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Better me than them I guess. She has tons of toys and I’ve been getting her raw and knuckle bones - which she loves and plows through. Thanks for your help!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
You said you tried redirecting- I'm assuming that what you mean is when she bites, you replace it with a chew toy. This is a great method, keep using it. But if this method is overused, the puppy may learn that biting equals toy. So when you enter a room, stand up, or whatever else "triggers" her, be prepared to redirect before she bites. One other maintenance strategy is having someone else keep the dog on leash when you enter. The person with the leash waits for the pup to settle down while you are just out of her reach. Once she does, either come closer to her or have the other person allow her to go to you. But once she starts to get riled up, stop approaching or move out of her reach. Reward heavily with praise, play, and treats for not biting, and especially for sitting to greet you politely. It's easier to tell her what she can do (sit nicely) as opposed to what she can't do (bite), which is why redirecting to a toy is so effective. But again, just don't overuse the redirection method, it's best to prevent it in the first place. And remember, negative attention (saying no or other corrections) is more enjoyable to the dog than being ignored, so avoid those. And as the other post said, some of this is just part of being a puppy.

As always, make sure that the dog has enough exercise and mental stimulation, and focus on building your relationship (try trick training or dog sports when she's old enough) more than building behaviors- behaviors tend to fall into place when you have a good, trust-based (not alpha or dominant- these are disproven dog training myths) relationship. Good luck!

Also: in regards to asking her not to bite- I realize you didn't have results with ignoring her the second she bites- just make sure that she NEVER gets what she wants- attention from you (even in the form of a command, request or reprimand)- for biting.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,962 Posts
Honestly, at this point I’m happier just asking her nicely not to bite. I didn’t get a dog to yell at it, it seems stupid. Unfortunately stopping the fun when she bites doesn’t work either, that was one of the earliest attempts. Until she starts biting my kids, which she hasn’t, I don’t want to scare her. It really is funny to me that the dog somehow knew off the bat who she could and couldnt bite - I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Better me than them I guess. She has tons of toys and I’ve been getting her raw and knuckle bones - which she loves and plows through. Thanks for your help!
Nobody is telling you to yell at your dog. Where did you get that? Quite the opposite, really!

Like you said, you've had her 6 WEEKS. That is...nothing. It's not a lot of time. It could take weeks alone of using ONE method consistently for you to see any sort of progress. Don't give up. Asking nicely won't work, I'm afraid, as dogs don't speak human!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
625 Posts
As Lillith said, you haven't had your puppy that long, and you've cycled through various methods to try to reduce the biting. Unfortunately, suppressing something that comes naturally to puppies has no quick fix. Depending on the puppy, it takes weeks, even months of consistent work to affect a change. With my last puppy, I spent several months with bandaids on my hands, in part because I have old lady's more fragile skin, but also in part because puppy teeth are like razors. She's still mouthy, but now it's licking instead of biting.

I had one like her years ago and never got further than reducing the biting at me to licking with her either. That first one did end up with a softer mouth for taking treats than Teagan (current girl).

I'm thinking about another puppy now and also thinking about gloves.:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well...2 months have passed, and we still have our mini-Bernese puppy. She's almost 6 months old now. Shortly after I posted the original message, she stopped biting completely for two weeks...until she started teething and it all started up again. She lost almost all of her teeth in a span of two weeks, I felt awful for her. She'd come inside every day with holes in her mouth.

She's still gripping and biting me a little bit, but with the bigger teeth it doesn't hurt as much. This dog is clung to me, and has become like a child. I can't leave the house without her, she even rides in the car with me. I thought dogs hated riding in cars - not this one.

I'm still fumbling through figuring out how to get her to stop nipping at me, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was. We did move her crate into our bedroom, fearing she was scared of sleeping alone downstairs, and that made a huge difference. She walks right now when I open the door and lays down and is sleeping in seconds....ONLY when I stay and go to bed too. Another victory.

264432
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top