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Discussion Starter #1
I'm confused about how to best control "wild" biting. Currently, my puppy, a Standard Schnauzer now about 14 weeks old, bites gently if I specifically play with him with my hands in his mouth, etc, but when he gets in his wild mode (when we come back from a walk, maybe when chewing a toy, if I'm playing fetch and sitting on the floor when he brings the ball back, or any random time) he bites hard and bites clothes, feet, hands, or whatever he can get his mouth on.

What I've been doing so far, which hasn't seemed to have any effect at all, is saying 'timeout' and holding him up (under his arms so he can't bite) until he relaxes or, if I can hook him to a railing I will still say 'timeout' and then hook him to the railing and leave the situation however this generally involves getting bitten when trying to get him tied up (wild biting still, not agressive).

Am I doing something wrong or is there something I can do differently to be more effective? I'm in a very "open" townhouse with the main floor where most of my time is spent being one room so I can't really just leave the room (hence the hookup to the railing).

Or is this all normal? ;-)

Thanks!
 

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Puppy biting is normal! Some people don't want their pups to bite at all, gently or not, but that is up to you. I'm ok with the gentle mouthing. But, when the "wild" biting occurs I would say ouch LOUDLY, and if he does it again I would move away from him. You don't have to go into a different room, but just get up and move away. Ignore him completely. You should do this for at least 1-2 minutes.
Then, go back to playing with him, or whatever. If the hard biting happens again, you have to be consistent and do they ouch, and ignoring thing. My boyfriend was hesitant to do this because he thought we'd never get to play with the puppy, we'd always be leaving the room, since the biting seemed constant, but it really did start working after awhile!
The thing is, if he was still with his mama and litter mates and he bit too hard, they would correct him, but since he's with you, you have to. Make it clear to him that hard biting means the end of play time, or any interaction with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply.

I don't mind gentle biting when we're playing but the hard stuff has to stop!

So do you think the holding him "up and away" is not sufficient?

Brian
 

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Well, you said it hasn't seemed to have any effect at all. Besides, I've never heard of anyone doing that before. It seems that might cause more excitement or anxiety. Good luck!
 

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If your puppy gets overstimulated (after walks, during play etc) you may want to not let him "play with you with his teeth" at all, until you have done some extensive long term impulse control work with him. The GSD I worked with as a pup was VERY mouthy, his owner played with his face too much and it encouraged it..so we stopped the face playing and taught him to play tug..what a difference.
Teaching him how to play tug, with rules, is a great way to give him an outlet for the crazies AND teach him impulse control.
For management for now, since the tethering thing is proving difficult, you may want to consider using a "leash settle". It uses negative reinforcement and is probably the only type of R- I use for puppies and dogs (I am a positive trainer and use mostly Pos. Reinforcement and Negative punishment).

Have the puppy on a leash and collar. Practice this when he is NOt manic at first..lol. Take the leash and place it under your foot (with shoes on) so you are standing on the leash at just enough length so that he cannot stand fully comfortably. The idea is that eventually he will lie down to relieve the collar pressure. This keeps your hands out of the equation, prevents biting and jumping up. It is important that you don't try to lift your leg to stand on the leash as it puts you off balance, you PLACE the leash under your forefoot. Practice this a LOT, building up to longer periods of time. You don't praise or interact with the pup when he is in a settle..you just leave him there for increasing periods of time. What happens is eventually the pup/dog learns to immediately lie down with the settle. This then becomes a conditioned reinforcer for calm and the dogs settle quicker and quicker.

If, the first time you try it he freaks out for too long, simply give him MORE leash so he has a bit more space.

We teach this in our puppy class in the second session. By the third session the puppies all settle down immediately to start class. It works very well and teaches the dog that at that moment, it is NOT about them and is about focus.
 

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I did the "yipping" loudly when Auz was a puppy. All it did was make him think I swallowed a canary ;) What worked best for him was to simply leave. If he mouthed too hard, he wound up alone. Tag was adorable the first time I yipped when he bit down to hard. His ears shot up, his eyes got wide, and he leaned back and stared at me like "oh no, I killed my friend". He then ducked his head/tail and walked to his crate and climbed in, lol. Some dogs are sensitive to this, some dogs aren't (most SS's IME aren't as "soft"), so yelping might not work with this particular pup :) I would stop suspending him by his arm pits, tying him up, etc. Just leave, wordlessly. Don't tell him to knock it off if he follows you, if you have to leave the room. It's amazing how many puppies will catch on that if they play bite too hard, the play time is over IMMEDIATELY.
Tag still mouths me, very, very softly. I've had so called experts tell me that's horrible, but I don't mind it. It's rewarding to him, and after we run an agility sequence he almost ALWAYS is mouthing my hands, very lightly. It's cute, and does no harm :)
I also don't mind the excitement I get at dinner time (Tag leaps against the cabinets, Dude leaps against my legs, the cats are in my face and Auz is running circles with a toy). It all depends on what you're willing to live with. I don't mind dogs that mouth me gently, but dogs who have no bite inhibition is not fun, but it's up to humans (and maybe other dogs who are experienced with puppies) to TEACH them that bite inhibition. (Auz was taught early on by a border collie that obnoxious "in your face barking" during a game of ball would get him nothing but a flash of teeth and a 1/2 second whirlwind scolding. Hilarious, and he never did it again!)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the info!

Forbin was corrected (the 1/2 second whirlwind scolding variety) by a Boxer yesterday when he was nipping too hard and he got the idea pretty quickly from her!

Cracker, thanks for the "leash settle" idea - I'm definitely going to try that. Is the eventual goal for that to cue it with a voice command and no leash? Obviously we're a long way from that but interested to know what the long term goal is.

Thanks again,

Brian
 

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Yes, Once you have a "down" on cue and have built up to a five second or so stay you start using the leash settle as a way to increase your stay. For example: you ask for stay, pup breaks before you have 'released' her so you go and simply use the leash settle (so no verbal repeat of cue, immediate leash settle is the correction) and then as soon as pup hits the ground again your foot comes off the leash (removing the pressure). Eventually you will have built a good down stay and can use it instead of the settle.

That being said, for the dogs that I have taught the settle but who's owners have NOT worked on the down and stay behaviour (my dogwalking clients) I will still use the leash settle at times if a dog gets too worked up and cannot/will not calm down. I use it very sparingly and try to give the dog the opportunity to stop on his own..but a gang of leaping, air snapping land alligators excited to get out of the car and into the off leash area NEED to be calm before they can go in the park..for safety and my sanity..lol.
 

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I have a similar problem. I have an 11 wk havanese/maltese, who just loves to bite my hands, toes, and pants. After trying "No Bite" to avail (he just held on to my pant leg tighter and pulled), I tried using the "alpha roll" thing where I flipped him and said no bite. That seemed to work because at least when he bit my pant leg, and I said no bite, he would let go now, but after reading more, about how I shouldn't use the alpha roll, I've stopped. I now just mostly play with him in his playpen and just walk out when he bites me too much or doesn;t stop when I ask.

It seems that he has moments of craziness where he will have a wild look, and start running around and attacking things. He looks at me then nips my toes and pants then runs away. It seems that he knows he's not allowed but he still just does it to test me. I know some is playing, but where should I draw the line. Most of the time it doesn't hurt, but sometimes it will get prgressively harder when I let him keep biting. I don't want him to have the habit of being able to gnaw on my hands and feet and pants. It seems like it's getting wrose than it was a week ago. Also when I go to pet him sometimes now, he just tries to bite/gnaw my hand. How much biting is normal? How strict should I be about not letting him do it? How long does this phase last?

Thanks all, for your advice!
 

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Cracker (or anyone else) - I'm interested in your take on our 5 month old Boston Terrier puppy.

We brought her home at 9 weeks of age and since day one have used the "ouch!" method to get her attention when biting hands, clothes, etc. As time has went on that method has only seemed to increase her energy level and urge to play with us even more.

We have also tried the ignoring method and that seems to work but we're having a hard time being consistent with it because she only seems to bite when we have our work clothes on - ie, biting dress slacks, dresses, etc. that we'd rather her not chew on. Obviously with dress pants on we don't want to try the ignore method because after 2-3 minutes we'll have bite marks and slobber all over our clothes and will need to change, or in some cases by new clothes all together.

We have her enrolled in puppy class (only been to 2 classes so far) and one of the suggestions from our trainer is to use Bitter Apple. She encouraged us to spray one shot into our dog's mouth and let them see just how distasteful it is. Then, anytime she misbehaves we spray her, the dog, directly with it. She said over time the dog will learn that when the bottle comes out it's time to stop.

I'm curious:
1. What other methods can we try to discourage biting outside of ignoring and "Ouch!"?

2. Has anyone tried the Bitter Apple spray technique?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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It seems that he has moments of craziness where he will have a wild look, and start running around and attacking things. He looks at me then nips my toes and pants then runs away. It seems that he knows he's not allowed but he still just does it to test me. I know some is playing, but where should I draw the line. Most of the time it doesn't hurt, but sometimes it will get prgressively harder when I let him keep biting. I don't want him to have the habit of being able to gnaw on my hands and feet and pants. It seems like it's getting wrose than it was a week ago. Also when I go to pet him sometimes now, he just tries to bite/gnaw my hand. How much biting is normal? How strict should I be about not letting him do it? How long does this phase last?

Thanks all, for your advice!
Hum..welcome to puppy zoomies. All perfectly normal. It is NOT a testing behaviour it is simply a build up of crazy energy that has to go somewhere..and usually that is over the couch, behind the dining table, up your leg or spinning in circles like a crazy pup. I let pups zoom, making sure that the room is safe and no fragile things around for him to break or hurt himself on. If you have become part of the zoom, you will have to decide whether to leave the room or just sit down and ignore the pup (putting your legs up if you feel you need to). This stage lasts for different lengths of time with different puppies. They do eventually stop for the most part.
 

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Cracker (or anyone else) - I'm interested in your take on our 5 month old Boston Terrier puppy.

We brought her home at 9 weeks of age and since day one have used the "ouch!" method to get her attention when biting hands, clothes, etc. As time has went on that method has only seemed to increase her energy level and urge to play with us even more.
She's a terrier. The ouch squeal may be too stimulating. BE BORING.

We have also tried the ignoring method and that seems to work but we're having a hard time being consistent with it because she only seems to bite when we have our work clothes on - ie, biting dress slacks, dresses, etc. that we'd rather her not chew on. Obviously with dress pants on we don't want to try the ignore method because after 2-3 minutes we'll have bite marks and slobber all over our clothes and will need to change, or in some cases by new clothes all together.
If you cannot be working with the behaviour and your good clothes are at risk, then management is key. Crate or tether him while getting ready for work etc so he CAN'T do the behaviour.

We have her enrolled in puppy class (only been to 2 classes so far) and one of the suggestions from our trainer is to use Bitter Apple. She encouraged us to spray one shot into our dog's mouth and let them see just how distasteful it is. Then, anytime she misbehaves we spray her, the dog, directly with it. She said over time the dog will learn that when the bottle comes out it's time to stop.
Bitter apple and citronella products should NOT be sprayed at the dog. If you want to use a spray use plain water. Bitter apple is meant to be applied to the ITEM that is being chewed or licked at.
This is bad advice, the potential for getting the product in her eyes is not worth the risk. Even citronella spray collars spray UNDER the chin and have the potential to get in the eyes. Given a dogs excellent scent abilities the product can stay potentially punishing for a time after the spray happens. This is not the way punishment should be applied. We use a water spritzer very occasionally in class and only spray at the dogs hind end to distract them, not as punishment.

I'm curious:
1. What other methods can we try to discourage biting outside of ignoring and "Ouch!"?
Other methods are management and teaching an alternative behaviour. Anytime you cannot be actively training the dog, the dog should be prevented from performing an unwanted behaviour. Leashing, tethering, confinement in a crate or a puppy safe room. Providing food puzzle toys and chew sticks (bully sticks are great).

These are all normal puppy behaviours and totally extinguishing them takes time, repetition and lots of patience. It's important to remember that for a behaviour to be absolutely learned that HUNDREDS of repetitions in many different situations is necessary. Be calm, consistent and set the puppy (and therefore yourself) up to succeed as much as possible.
 

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The ouch squeal may be too stimulating. BE BORING.
My dog was super mouthy as a pup, and yelpin' wasn't helpin'. He liked to come from behind and under the kitchen chair while I was sitting, wearing shorts. He'd nip the backs of my calves and behind the knees. When I yelled "OW!" he'd start to look at me as if I were a wounded baby caribou. Dinner!

Moral of the story: have more than one trick in your bag.
 

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This is bad advice, the potential for getting the product in her eyes is not worth the risk. Even citronella spray collars spray UNDER the chin and have the potential to get in the eyes. Given a dogs excellent scent abilities the product can stay potentially punishing for a time after the spray happens. This is not the way punishment should be applied.
Stupider and stupider and stupider, I guess it would stop the biting and anything else that a carefree pup should be doing for the next 15 minutes. Wouldn't a sledge hammer be quicker.:eek:

After using the sledge hammer many future problems would also be eliminated. What A Trainer.
 

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Stupider and stupider and stupider, I guess it would stop the biting and anything else that a carefree pup should be doing for the next 15 minutes. Wouldn't a sledge hammer be quicker.:eek:

After using the sledge hammer many future problems would also be eliminated. What A Trainer.
Outside of the Bitter Apple item, I've already started to question this trainer on other things. I may have just wasted $85.
 

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Another interesting thing to note in our situation is that our female pup only seems to "wild" bite with me (a male) and not my wife. Perhaps she sees me differently and is challenging me?
 

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My dog will wild nip at my husband - especially his socks and pant legs - but not nip me.

But I've also worked with her for a few months on not nipping. I'll do the loud "ouch" or if I see her nipping at someone else will clap my hands and tell her "no." I don't jerk. If she keeps doing it I'll turn around and ignore her.

My husband will say, without any inflection whatsoever, "stop biting" and jerk his feet away. Frankly, my dog sees this as a game.

It may be worth seeing if you're doing anything unconsciously that your dog finds fun. It could have nothing to do with challenging authority.
 

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HI Forbin, you've gotten good info here, I just wanted to way HI and welcome to the wonderful world of Standard Schnauzer puppyhood!

I did the "walk away and end the play session when the pup used teeth method" and was satisfied with the results.
 

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Outside of the Bitter Apple item, I've already started to question this trainer on other things. I may have just wasted $85.
Hang tough, because sometimes after weeding out bad training suggestions there may be a pearl or two hidden in the trainer's instructions. There is no law that says you have to do anything trainer says that you do not like.
 

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Another interesting thing to note in our situation is that our female pup only seems to "wild" bite with me (a male) and not my wife. Perhaps she sees me differently and is challenging me?
I always get the same thing. I'm much more of the disciplinarian, so I'm always the one standing between pup and whatever bad business he has on his mind. Add to that, the fact that I'm more fun for a pup since I will be the one who gets him out in the muddy creek and I'll be the one teaching him where to find the skwerls.

I don't know that very young pups challenge you, per se, but they do get frustrated at the person who keeps them from the really fun stuff. Authentic challenges often come at 5 or 6 months of age. Another thing--and it may be more true for guys--is that I tolerate more savage puppy stuff than my wife. I don't ever encourage it, but I recognize it as a normal and necessary part of being a baby predator.
 
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