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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone!

I posted here a little while back about my puppy, Brinkley, when we adopted him at 6 months and were having problems with his biting. He was bruising my whole family, charging at us, and generally being a holy terror. Since then, he has been to obedience training and has settled in and bonded with the family-- the biting has improved hugely, but he still nips and bites (albeit softer than before), mostly when he's overstimulated.

The shelter we adopted him from guessed that he was a german shepherd and border collie mix, but didn't know for sure. After hearing me talk about his behavior, someone suggested to me that he might be a Belgian Malinois or some sort of mix. His ears are floppy, but otherwise I think he sort of looks and acts like that breed. He is fawn colored with a black mask, black tipped ears, and a black tail. The biting sounds in line with the 'Maligator' theme, and he's certainly a high-energy, playful, and intelligent boy. He's 8.5 months old now, and gets 3 40-minute walks/day plus some interactive playtime (fetch, keep away, obedience training). He has learned how to turn our door handle to open the door, broke his water dish by pouncing on it when it was empty (I think trying to get to the 'source'), hunts squeaky floorboards in the house, seems to have X-ray vision, observes everything, stalks and then lays down when other dogs are approaching, etc.

Does he sound like/look like a Belgian Malinois or a mix to anyone else who knows the breed better? Does anyone have any feelings about DNA tests that indicate breed composition of your dog? Knowing his breeds won't change how much we love him and his quirks, but I think it might help us understand him and better serve his needs!

Thanks for all your help!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is helpful, all. I'm not familiar with Belgian Malinois dogs and have just been googling pictures of them as puppies and thought they looked like Brinkley. Not a very scientific approach lol! Any other guesses to his breeds then?
 

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Thanks WonderBreadDots, I think he's cute, too :) I looked up some pictures of Black Mouth Curs-- he definitely has that type of floppy ear! I'm so curious as to his breeds!
 

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I believe that a mal is much more intense than your dog, so intense that it comes across in photos :) I think you just have an energetic adolescent that needs more training and more exercise to burn off some of that energy.

I think he looks like a GSD x Lab ...
1. Does he have webbed feet ? Does he play with water, digging in his water dish?
2. Does he have moments of sweetness and being laid back... when he isn't hyper?
3. The way he pays attention, looks you in the eye and seems to have a sharp intelligence, sounds GSD/Lab like.
My avatar is my Lab-GSD.

For nipping, keep working with the ideas from the Sticky: The Bite Stops Here in the new owner section.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hanksimon, a few people have said that he looks like a GSD-lab mix, which I also see. I just checked and he DOES have webbed feet! How interesting! He hates the rain and hasn't had a lot of other exposure to water- perhaps he'll like it a lot though! And you hit the nail on the head. He is VERY sweet and loving when he is calm. He likes to sit on laps even though he's pushing 55 lbs and is an avid face licker. Those moments just feel few and far between sometimes lol.

Your GSD-lab mix is beautiful! Anything unique you've noticed in his/her behavior or games or toys he/she has really enjoyed?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What about rhodesian ridgeback?
I have also thought there might be some Rhodesian Ridgeback in the mix-- his chocolate eyes look just like that breed and his broad head and ears fit as well!
 

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A "difference" between a Lab-GSD (?) and a Ridgeback is the amazing quickness of a Ridgeback. A Ridgeback can typically (?) run faster than a Lab [not an absolute, obviously], and a Ridgeback tends to snap awake from a sound sleep ...

Shep is food driven (and squirrel driven ) and learns rapidly. Very easy to train with both voice and hand cues. He loves to play with other dogs, seeming to prefer the rough play with Labs, Pits, and Rotts. He needs to chew and he used to chew on a hard rubber bone for 30 - 45 min. after supper, apparently to decompress...

I taught him Bite Inhibition by Yelping and using a method similar to The Bite Stops Here. Then, I taught him to Fetch and to play Tug, by yelping and leaving, if he ran away, tried to play keep away, or got too rough. He loves Tug, regardless of who wins. I made hi follow the rules, and once he understood, when he wins, if I ignore him, then he'll come back and poke me with the toy to restart the game. He used to try to get me to chase him - which he also loves - but I made him separate the games. No chase with the Tug toy, but if he picks up a tennis ball, then that's a request for a chase... but he has to stop and come back when called.

He isn't obsessed (but close) with squirrels, rabbits, cats, and birds. I'm positive he'd kill a squirrel or rabbit, and maybe a chicken, but I think he chases cats and most birds, just to may them go, b/c he veers off once they start moving quickly. He pursues squirrels, rabbits, and mice.

He is amazingly intelligent - probably innately rather than by all the early training - if a squirrel runs one direction around a tree, Shep will ambush him around the other direction... it's a good thing the squirrel can go up :) And, when a ball went over the middle of the fence, Shep understood to run to the end of the fence to the gate, then run to get the ball. Not sure how he learned those behaviors.

He's very good off leash, he's good at tracking (wish I'd done nosework), and he's good at learning my gestures and body language.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Looks a lot like my Bella who is GSD/Lab. She was a furry little land shark at that age as well!

He is a cutie pie!! :)
It's actually quite a relief to read on here about other people who had shark-puppies... and survived! Is Bella your avatar? Adorable! How old is she now?
 

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I don't see Mal or ridgeback at all.

I do see GSD and maybe lab.
 

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It's actually quite a relief to read on here about other people who had shark-puppies... and survived! Is Bella your avatar? Adorable! How old is she now?
My 7 month old GSD mix has STILL Not stopped mouthing. He has stopped drawing blood, but keeping his mouth to himself we are STILL working on.
 

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My 7 month old GSD mix has STILL Not stopped mouthing. He has stopped drawing blood, but keeping his mouth to himself we are STILL working on.
My 10 month old spaniel is still mouthing inappropriately. While generally pretty soft, he forgets himself and bites hard sometimes.

So you are not alone, GSDlover!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
A "difference" between a Lab-GSD (?) and a Ridgeback is the amazing quickness of a Ridgeback. A Ridgeback can typically (?) run faster than a Lab [not an absolute, obviously], and a Ridgeback tends to snap awake from a sound sleep ...

Shep is food driven (and squirrel driven ) and learns rapidly. Very easy to train with both voice and hand cues. He loves to play with other dogs, seeming to prefer the rough play with Labs, Pits, and Rotts. He needs to chew and he used to chew on a hard rubber bone for 30 - 45 min. after supper, apparently to decompress...

I taught him Bite Inhibition by Yelping and using a method similar to The Bite Stops Here. Then, I taught him to Fetch and to play Tug, by yelping and leaving, if he ran away, tried to play keep away, or got too rough. He loves Tug, regardless of who wins. I made hi follow the rules, and once he understood, when he wins, if I ignore him, then he'll come back and poke me with the toy to restart the game. He used to try to get me to chase him - which he also loves - but I made him separate the games. No chase with the Tug toy, but if he picks up a tennis ball, then that's a request for a chase... but he has to stop and come back when called.

He isn't obsessed (but close) with squirrels, rabbits, cats, and birds. I'm positive he'd kill a squirrel or rabbit, and maybe a chicken, but I think he chases cats and most birds, just to may them go, b/c he veers off once they start moving quickly. He pursues squirrels, rabbits, and mice.

He is amazingly intelligent - probably innately rather than by all the early training - if a squirrel runs one direction around a tree, Shep will ambush him around the other direction... it's a good thing the squirrel can go up :) And, when a ball went over the middle of the fence, Shep understood to run to the end of the fence to the gate, then run to get the ball. Not sure how he learned those behaviors.

He's very good off leash, he's good at tracking (wish I'd done nosework), and he's good at learning my gestures and body language.
This is awesome info! Brinkley seems like a super fast runner to me, but I don't think he would be faster than the average lab or average dog in general. He does snap awake sometimes and is very sensitive to sights and sounds.

Like Shep, Brinkley LOVES squirrels/rabbits/birds. He won't chase after them on walks, but will lay down and stalk them or crawl very slowly in the grass after them- hilarious but impossible to get his attention when he is in this mode. We have a cat at home, though, who Brinkley is very respectful of! He desperately wants to play with her, and she swats and hisses at him, and he sits and wags his tail and takes her abuse lol. Sadly, he is only food motivated when it suits him. He is perfectly happy to ignore a tasty chew or kong filled with treats if he has decided whatever else he is doing is more important (mostly laying outside and refusing to come in after walks/playtime in the yard!).

I love the idea of using the 'yelp' method to teach fetch and tug! We adopted Brinkley when he was 6 months old, so using the yelp method to inhibit biting was more of a game to him than a deterrent, but I feel like yelping/ignoring during these games would get the idea across to him. He loves frisbee, but it takes a few attempts at 'leave it' before he will give the frisbee back to me to keep throwing. I'll try your method!

Shep sounds like such a sweet and smart dog. Do you attribute the innate intelligence to one of his breeds or to an individual trait? Brinkley is always surprising me with his intelligence. I watched some training videos of 'touch' on the forum recently and started it today- he picked it up almost immediately and loved it (I'm sure we'll have to keep working on it, but he's quick).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
My 10 month old spaniel is still mouthing inappropriately. While generally pretty soft, he forgets himself and bites hard sometimes.

So you are not alone, GSDlover!
CptJack and elrohwen, thank you for the solidarity! Our first GSD mix literally learned bite inhibition immediately and never touched us with his mouth, so we were totally unprepared for the jaws of 6 month old Brinkley lol! I thought we might have a serious behavioral issue on our hands, but I'm so happy I found this forum and heard success stories from others who had older puppies/adolescents still working on bite inhibition. I have faith he will get there eventually.
 

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I think that a GSD-Lab ... especially the brown variety [ :) ] ... has the innate sharp intelligence of a GSD, tempered with the laid back, forgiving intelligence of a Lab, making for a dog that's not too sensitive and not too goofy, and a little easier to handle for the average owner...

Shep is sensitive to sights and sounds, and he is my first dog that looks at the people inside of a car. He wakes up quickly (or did when he was younger), but he doesn't hit the ground running at the same time.

My personal opinion - and I think I'm in the minority - is that you should distract him and stop him from stalking squirrels, etc., before he gets going. I feel that if you let dogs chase things, they will increase the behavior, and if you distract them from it, it may decrease or possibly extinguish [I don't really think it will go away, but might diminish.] When Shep chases or trees a squirrel, nothing else exists. I have to walk up to him, put on the leash, and pull him away. If I anticipate and distract him before he gets amped up, he'll walk with me, while looking backwards... Moreover, he is fairly street smart and won't normally run in front of cars, politely letting them pass, BUT... if he sees a squirrel across the street, he will try to use a passing car as a tool for suicide....

I wrote the following for some other folks. Note the time and the apology:
It may help for a 6 mos pup.

The Bite Stops Here takes about 3 days to kick in, even then you only get a reduction of bloodletting, slowly resulting in bloodfree nipping, leading to mouthing, etc. Depending on the reaction of the pup, you don't have to use a Yelp!, you can say Ouch!!!, or Oops, where you want a marking word, to indicate when you are withdrawing attention.

Re-read the Sticky:the Bite Stops Here. perhaps you need to try a little longer. Read this tweak and note the 3 days and the apology....maybe, he ignored the Yelp!, because you ignored the apology. Instead of the Yelp, you can say Ouch! or Oops! Also, it seems to be more effective if you can leave him alone in a timeout ("abandoning him"), rather than putting him into a timeout in the crate. It seems to make the act of withdrawing attention more blatant.

Some Tweaks to Bite Inhibition (to get him to stop biting when he wants to play or otherwise):
1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw... don't step on his paw for a sample :). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. (Look for the startle) Praise and pet. He'll bite.
2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. He'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
3. When he bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. This is important. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip...
4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (He's still hungry...)
5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

You can modify the number of steps, but not what you do... for example, you can leave in a huff :), after the second nip or even the first, but you always have to provide a vocal marker, to give him something to react to. I still use a light yelp with my 11 yo when he lets teeth touch skin as I give him a treat. No pressure or harm, but I want him to appear very safe to everyone.

Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. By the third day, you should notice signficant Bite Inhibition. He may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. And, he should be less aggressive, especially, if you notice the apology. Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method.

If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication. I currently use the yelp when my dog plays tug, then runs with the toy, when he fetches and keeps it out of reach or when he takes a treat too quickly....

Dogs will grab for tug toy and take along some skin. With good Bite Inhibition, as well as withdrawing attention, you can teach most dogs to slow down grabbing, while still being able to rip your arm out of the socket by pulling. My dog is polite and will return my arm to me, so that we can continue playing.
 
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