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So I have a 6 month old lab/aussie female pup named Nova. This is my first dog and so it is a learning experience for the both of us. I never planned on getting her, she was one of those cases where "dog chooses owner". I am still a student but do all my work at home so I can spend lots of time with her. Anyways I have been having some major trouble with training her in some areas. I am very patient with her, but my family isnt and it is starting to cause problems. Her problem is biting..... She does NOT understand no, I have done tons and tons of research on this and nothing I have tried has worked. I have tried
1) Saying no in a stern voice. She just bites more or back sasses me.
2) Squirting her in the face with water. She likes it and wants more.
3) I have tried lightly smacking her on the mouth or bottom. This gets her more worked up.
4) I exercise her daily for hours at a time to wear her out. She still bites even if shes tired.
5) I have tried putting a slip leash around her head behind her ears, and jerk it when she bites. Still doesnt work.
6) I have put her in time out, but she bites when she gets out.
7) I hold her on the ground until she calms down, but the second she gets up it is immediately back to biting. I have sat like that with her for 6 minutes before.
8) When I ignore her, she just jumps up and bites my butt, hair, clothes, back or grabs old of my arm and wont let go.
9) Held her mouth shut and told her "bad girl" or "no"
10) Getting her a toy in place of my hands. She is still interested in my hands only
11) Given her a treat when she stops, but after she eats it she bites again.
Thats all I can think of but I am sure theres more I have tried. Sometimes she bites so hard I think my bones are just going to crunch. I feel bad about this but one time I got so mad at her I smacked her so hard she whimpered. She said sorry but then went back to biting after she kissed me. I have thought about the hot sauce thing, but knowing my dog she will just think its yummy as she does most stuff other dogs find repulsive. Then she will think I am rewarding her for biting, and have a sick stomach the rest of the day. I am desperate!! If she doesnt stop my mom is going to make me get her a shock collar, which is the very last thing I want to do, especially for a six month old.

One more problem she has though, is separation anxiety. Really bad. She cries and barks and carries on forever when I go into the house, she has jumped her fence and came scratching at the front door, If I even go into the front yard where she cant see me, she screams. I like to jog and ride my bike without her every once in a while, so she freaks, If I lock her in my room or a kennel and leave, she barks for hours at a time. I really need to fix this because I am leaving soon for a 2 week trip and will be leaving her in my mothers care. She is a VERY hyper puppy and extremely ornery.

When I also try to put her back into her pen after playtime, she flips on her back or bites my hand so I cant put her away. She also will grab stuff and run off with it thinking its a game. I have NEVER given her a treat to get the item back because I know that is a bad thing to do, but I dont know what I am supposed to do.

She is very smart when it comes to learning tricks. When she was 10 weeks old she already learned sit and how to look into my eyes when her food dish was right below her. She knows shake, and the trick where the treat is touching her nose and she has to stare into my eyes until I say its okay. She also is learning how to do an agility course. I take her to the dog park once a week and they have one there. I use raw meat for training sometimes though cause she gets bored of her training treats.

PLEASE HELP!!
 

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So, on the list of the ways you have tried to prevent the behavior, numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, are all negative reinforcement and I would strongly recommend you don't use those methods to train your dog. No shouting, no hitting, no time outs, no jerking on a lead. Remember, she's six months old, and it sounds to me like you and your mother are probably being slightly impatient with her. She's still a very young puppy, and sometimes bite inhibition takes a while for mouthy dogs to learn.

That being said, under what circumstances is she biting people? Is it resource (food or toy) guarding? Is it when you're playing? Is it when people are leaning over the top of her? Is it when people are very close to you? Has she drawn blood? Is there growling associated with the biting?

In another thread on this forum, a member said something along the lines of "there are thousands of things you don't want your dog to do, and only 50 things you want your dog to do. It's much easier to train them to do 50 things than to train them to not to thousands". The statement has really stuck with me, and it's relevant here. It sounds to me like a lot of your training methods rely on negative reinforcement, and you should look into positive redirection instead.

Also, she's a Lab/Aussie mix - you say you're doing hours of physical exercise with her, but what about mental stimulation? Aussies are a very intelligent, herding breed and therefore require mental stimuli as well as physical exercise. Someone who has worked with one of the higher energy herding breeds can probably comment on providing her with puzzles or other "thinking" games.

Myself and other members can probably comment further after you provide more specifics about when the biting is mostly occurring.
 

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I agree with Hiraeth that most of those methods are punishment, and not something I would recommend for something like mouthing. Either the dog is going to think you're playing and come back harder, or they are going to become scared of you.

The best technique is ignoring her. You mentioned she jumps up and continues to nip if you turn your back, so you need to actually leave the room. Step into another room and close the door, or step over a baby gate and then ignore her. If she tries to bite when you go back in, just leave again. She is biting to get your attention so your goal is to not give her any attention when she bites. Even negative attention, like slapping, is still attention.

As far as stealing things, giving her a treat to bring it back is exactly what you *should* be doing. If she learns that you won't chase her, but that there are excellent treats if she brings it back, she will start bringing it back every time and giving it up easily (eventually without the need for a treat). After she steals something once, it's your job to put it away so she can't continue to self-reinforce by stealing it again.
 

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In another thread on this forum, a member said something along the lines of "there are thousands of things you don't want your dog to do, and only 50 things you want your dog to do. It's much easier to train them to do 50 things than to train them to not to thousands". The statement has really stuck with me, and it's relevant here. It sounds to me like a lot of your training methods rely on negative reinforcement, and you should look into positive redirection instead.
That's me! I'm all about work smarter, not harder, and it applies to dog training as much as it does to work. Thanks for the compliment!

OP:

1. She's a puppy! A puppy from two seriously mouthy breeds. She is going to mouth, that's totally normal, you just need to consistently apply positive measures to teach her that mouthing you is not okay. It will take time, there's no way around it.

2. One of the dog owning maxims that always stuck with me is "you are always training your dog, whether you mean to or not." If she ever gets attention for mouthing, she'll keep mouthing. Clearly, from your description, she's a hard dog. (Hard dogs can take some punishment, soft dogs can't.) Hard dogs will take any attention they can get, positive or negative. Hitting her is giving her attention, so if you hit her (or yell or yank her leash or whatever), she's gotten what she wanted and will keep mouthing for more.

Mouthing needs to end fun times, every time. No reaction is the only reaction with a dog like this. Put a toy in her mouth the first few times, after that, leave. Don't leave while yelling at her, or crying or anything, just leave in stony-faced silence. Stay away for 30 seconds, come back. Repeat 1,000 times.

3. Is she getting opportunities to chew? All dogs need to chew as much as they need to eat. Does she like her toys, does she have enough? Are you replacing/rotating them often to keep them interesting? Are you giving her fun, chewy consumables like bully sticks or Himalaya chews? You will never get her to stop mouthing if you don't give her a safe outlet for chewing. This is just part of owning a dog.

4. I see a lot of attempts to tire her out, but what about training her impulse control? It's Yer Choice is a good place to start. Sit to Say Please is a good program, too. These take time. She is still a small child and small children aren't the best at impulse control, but if you start now, she'll be better at it later.

Most of all, have patience! She's just a little one yet, she doesn't know better.
 

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I don't remember if you said how long you'll be around until you leave for your trip, but I highly suggest if it's soon, trying to leave her in the hands of someone who has a lot of time to work with her. (If your family is impatient with her that may not be the best choice) You could also try to take her with you, but it's sounding like that's not an option.

Anyway, I agree with the above. Stand up and leave the room. Don't open the door when she starts crying (you said she has separation anxiety so this is something you can work on at the same time). She obviously values your presence, so leave the room. Do not open the door no matter how much she is screaming. Ride it out and wait for any silence. When she's quiet open the door and praise her heavily. (Your presence should be enough you shouldn't need treats) If she begins barking, even if it's as you're opening the door, close it immediately. She will learn that you will be back, but being quiet is the best way to get you back. She will also learn that she can't have your attention if she's biting.

I would also try yelping like a dog when she bites you, very high pitched. This worked extremely well with our dog Wednesday when teaching a "soft mouth" because that's also important. Now when she bites a dog even if agitated, it's soft. She used to be food aggressive before we trained it out of her and she bit me one time. Because we trained her to have a soft mouth it was a very soft bite. That's important because for example if a baby stomps on your dogs tail on accident she will likely snap out of pain, but it will be far softer than if your dog never learned soft mouth and do a lot of damage to the child. (Btw she is no longer food aggressive we trained it out of her)

This doesn't always work, Cosmo doesn't care if I yelp he's ruthless. However now that he learned not to bite my hands, we worked on soft mouth the same way (I let him mouth me when playing and when he plays too hard and bites me especially hard I leave the room and end the play)

There's no "quick and easy" fix for behaviors and manners, especially when it comes to puppies. I would absolutely NOT suggest a shock collar. I'm not just saying that, I've tried them (I've been desperately frustrated with a dog before too trust me), and believe me it will do more harm to your dog than good (if any). Shock collars are extremely hard to use because it needs to be perfectly clear to the dog what the shock is for. (Biting hands) however your dog may become scared of YOU and refuse to come near you. When I used it, I used it for eating food off plates on setting 2-3 out of 100. (Who the hell needs 100 is what I want to know) I tried the shock on myself several times to determine if I was comfortable using it on my dog, and I was. It wasn't a pain, more just startling and there wasn't any lasting pain, but there was lasting damage to my dog. For about a month he thought that the sensation came from the couch, because the food was on the side table near the couch. He refused to come near the couch or get onto it and sometimes didn't even enter the living room. It took me a month and a half to fix him and the collar is in the attic where it will stay. So please! No shock collar

Good luck! Aussies are very mouthy but very intelligent. Labs are also mouthy. Cosmo was the same way but he got the hang of it. Just make sure to remember she's SIX MONTHS OLD! She is still very very young and has a lot to learn. Just be patient with her and she'll get the hand of it :)
 

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There's no "quick and easy" fix for behaviors and manners, especially when it comes to puppies. I would absolutely NOT suggest a shock collar. I'm not just saying that, I've tried them (I've been desperately frustrated with a dog before too trust me), and believe me it will do more harm to your dog than good (if any). Shock collars are extremely hard to use because it needs to be perfectly clear to the dog what the shock is for. (Biting hands) however your dog may become scared of YOU and refuse to come near you. When I used it, I used it for eating food off plates on setting 2-3 out of 100. (Who the hell needs 100 is what I want to know) I tried the shock on myself several times to determine if I was comfortable using it on my dog, and I was. It wasn't a pain, more just startling and there wasn't any lasting pain, but there was lasting damage to my dog. For about a month he thought that the sensation came from the couch, because the food was on the side table near the couch. He refused to come near the couch or get onto it and sometimes didn't even enter the living room. It took me a month and a half to fix him and the collar is in the attic where it will stay. So please! No shock collar
This is why I will always say no to shock collars. Every single time for every single reason. You have no way of controlling what your dog associates the shock with. Maybe it will be with biting, maybe it will be with hands, or you, or collars or a child they happened to see the moment they got shocked. You can't control that and what are you going to do when your dog is terrified of you, or hands in general, or children?

One member of this forum put in an electric fence (a shock collar with a perimeter). The dog wouldn't go outside after that. He'd just sit inside and pee when he couldn't hold it any longer.

A member of another forum had great results with a shock collar, until a couple of years later when the dog started falling apart. (This is not uncommon in performance dogs trained with shock collars. Some performance handlers are well known for only getting a year or two out of their dogs.) He started running away, attacking other dogs at random, ignoring commands, refusing food. It took her years to rehabilitate him, and he's not the dog he was before the collar.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
She bites during play and also seems to think that it is how she shows affection. She starts to bite the second I walk into her pen, she first grabs hold of my forearm and wont let go, I think she is trying to keep me with her, like she expects I am going to leave her. She has drawn blood multiple time and she broke a blood vessel in my moms hand yesterday. I dont know if its growling but she makes a high pitched screechy noise when she bites, kinda like some dogs do when playing tug of war. She isnt resource possessive at all, I can tell her to stop eating and take her food away and she wont care at all. She does growl when people come close to me, but I just shake their hand or give em a hug and then she acts as if shes known them forever. I know that aussies are a dog that needs a job. We have lots of chickens and ducks that I am training her to be around so she can watch them during the day for her "job". I also know that they try and herd you, this is something I was able to break her of, she doesnt bite feet or legs at all. If people have more info about mental stimulation or positive reinforcement methods it would be greatly appreciated!

She has stuff to chew on, she has nylabones and some sort of rubbery chew toy and she eats a lot of stuff out of our garden, like celery and carrots which she sits and chews for a while. She has her adult teeth so I thought she wouldve stopped being so mouthy by now, but I see thats not the case.
I will start to give her treats when she brings the flower pots back. lol! she plays fetch and brings back her ball, but anything else is a game of tag.

I did the yelp when she bites and it makes her go look for a dog that she thinks is walking on the road, then she is even more worked up when she comes back and bites more. I yelp again and she eventually figures out that it is me making the noise and then she gets excited and it triggers more biting.

Also after playtime when it is time to go back in her pen, she flips on her back and bites and absolutely refuses to walk, so I have to drag her on her back all the way to her pen. She acts as though she is paralyzed, you can flip her over and she just falls down again. Any suggestions?? lol

I leave for my trip in a month. And I dont have anyone else to take care of her. Sadly taking her isnt an option, I was debating not going because of this, but it is only once a year.

Thanks for all of your help!! I am still open to any more you can give me.
 

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For Bite Inhibition, after the second nip, you yelp and then leave the area, putting her in a timeout for about 15 - 30 seconds. After about 3 days, you should see a change in behavior ... maybe a positive change :)

For the pen refusal, get a Kong, fill it with terrific stuff, and let her sniff, maybe lick it. Then, toss it into the pen, and close the door, with her on the outside, and wait. She will try to get in, biting, pulling, whining. When she "gives up" and "asks for help," praise her and let her in, closing her in the pen.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for everything guys! I have already seen such an improvement with the biting! Yesterday the first thing she did was get a toy and bring it to me instead of grab my arm, I was like 0.0 "who are you and what have you done with my puppy?" :p I WAS SO EXCITED! I havent given her a spank or yelled at her or anything else negative for days. I feel so stupid that I did that XD I can even turn my back on her when she bites, without leaving the pen on occasion and she just goes and figures out something else to do until I give my attention to her again. I will be joining the progress and goals thread so I can look back one day and read about how much shes grown LOL she will also get her own picture thread cause she is such a little princess and thinks everyone deserves to see her grow ;P

Thanks for answering the about the pen refusal, I will try it next time :)
Her separation anxiety isnt doing any better sadly, and the going back out, giving a treat and praising her after she calms down then leave again, just makes her cry again. her yard is pretty close to my neighbors bedroom too, and she get VERY loud .-. Good thing theyre friendly or I probably wouldnt have a dog by now.
 

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Thanks for everything guys! I have already seen such an improvement with the biting! Yesterday the first thing she did was get a toy and bring it to me instead of grab my arm, I was like 0.0 "who are you and what have you done with my puppy?" :p I WAS SO EXCITED! I havent given her a spank or yelled at her or anything else negative for days. I feel so stupid that I did that XD I can even turn my back on her when she bites, without leaving the pen on occasion and she just goes and figures out something else to do until I give my attention to her again. I will be joining the progress and goals thread so I can look back one day and read about how much shes grown LOL she will also get her own picture thread cause she is such a little princess and thinks everyone deserves to see her grow ;P

Thanks for answering the about the pen refusal, I will try it next time :)
Her separation anxiety isnt doing any better sadly, and the going back out, giving a treat and praising her after she calms down then leave again, just makes her cry again. her yard is pretty close to my neighbors bedroom too, and she get VERY loud .-. Good thing theyre friendly or I probably wouldnt have a dog by now.
Yay! I'm glad to hear you're seeing some definite progress with her biting :) Don't feel stupid for attempting to train with negative reinforcement - that's how many dog owners think they should instill the proper behavior in their puppies. Instead of feeling stupid, you should feel proud of seeking help and learning a way to do things that works for your puppy! It takes a lot of courage to say "okay, this isn't working, I need help".

The SA work is probably going to take some time. I think training SA out of puppies is a lot more difficult than working on bite inhibition. When you leave her, are you leaving her with any sort of high reward treat stuffed in a toy that will take her time and attention to get? If not, maybe that's something that will help distract her from the fact that you're not around?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ugh she kinda had a bad day today. She was doing so well and then all of a sudden she was her old self again. Today when I was playing with her she got sooooooo riled up and bit me and made me bleed which took forever to stop. I didnt give up though, I ignored her time after time after time for a straight hour :faint: I think she finally started getting it though, I hope at least XD I just take deep breaths and remind myself she is just a baby. It can get really frustrating though. Wish us luck!
 
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