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8 month old Newfie has begun to growl and bite while playing.

352 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Lillith
We have a very independently thinking Newfie male. He is sweet most of the time, definitely a puppy though. Lately we have noticed an increase in biting while playing. He will be playing just fine and then all of a sudden he just starts biting everything, hands, feet, clothes, etc. We immediately stop play, tell him no bite, but he won't stop biting. Most of the times my husband or myself must grab his collar and either rub his chest or belly to 'calm' him down. Sometimes that won't even help and we end up having to place him outside. Our children have been taught not to play rough and if we see them getting too crazy (usually my 7 yr old) we shut it down quick. I don't need a dog that size getting out of control :) What else can we do to stop this behavior?

We have also noticed him growling and nipping when he 'steals' things he isn't supposed to have. Mainly this happens with food items, but it has also happened with shoes or other items he is not supposed to have. This is a new behavior. He will usually stop when call his name firmly, however he will act like he is going to nip when the item in question is attempted to be removed again. Ideas on what to do?

We have finished his first round of training classes so he is familiar with certain words like leave it and what not. We have tried those and they don't work. Sometimes treats help to get the item away without continued nipping.

Is this a 'teenager' like phase he is going through? Should we be more concerned? We plan to continue training classes.
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Rubbing his chest or belly to calm him down isn't going to help. It's attention, and any attention is good attention. When he gets mouthy, your best option is to immediately end play. Close a door, step over a baby gate, whatever, just make sure fun ends when teeth meet flesh. You MUST physically remove yourself. It is not necessary to grab his collar or usher him outside. You should also encourage him to bite his toys and not you.

The growling and nipping when he steals food items is likely resource guarding. A good resource for that is Mine! by Jean Donaldson. You should look up the "trade game", as well. Management is another important factor. I know it's difficult with children, but you should try your hardest to prevent the dog's access to food he isn't supposed to have. You can do that by using baby gates (to keep out of the kitchen) or teaching the dog a "place" command. For example, when children have food in their hands as they often do, the dog should go to his bed and stay there until released.

The dog should eat his meals or have high value chews in a private place like a crate or separate room, as well, so he never feels threatened.

Although you have a good start with learning the common commands, you do need to proof them, preferably in situations that you have set up so you can control them. You might try looking up Kikopup on YouTube. She is a really great positive dog trainer and seems to have a video for just about anything you can think of.
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