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Excessive play biting problem

871 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  jstbuch

So I guess play biting is a problem for all puppies, but here's the situation:

We're watching our friend's four month old rescued-from-behind-a-market (so, unknown breed) aprox 30lb puppy, for two weeks. They've never had a dog before but felt terrible when they found her close to death and are now doing their best to raise her well. We're watching their animals (pupply + 4 cats!) and their house while they're away for 2 weeks.

Well Molly, the dog, is adorable from afar, but when you approach or call to her she bounds up with so much enthusiasm and starts nipping hands, ankles, pant hems, clothes, bags, whatever's around in a fit of joyous playfulness.

Since she is so big, these bites hurt. I have read a bit about what to do in these situations and often it is said they are bored or that you should walk away. We could play with her more, but always it ends in biting so if we stopped whenever she bit, we would never play with her. Walking away is similarly difficult because if we're more than a few steps away from the door, she'll just bite our heels until we get inside which hurts and therefore undoubtedly gets a reaction. So we're not very excited to play with her and don't know how to do it in a way that doesn't encourage her bad behavior.

To make matters more complicated, we are in a second-world country in a rural area so there aren't big pet stores around selling so many variety of toys. We have a knotted up sheet out there and a dishtowel on the end of a rope. Sometimes we give her bones to gnaw on or chew treats. I'm not sure what else to do...

We do take her on walks twice a day for an hour or more.

Please, any suggestions would be most appreciated!
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Have you tried being a "tree?" ... just turning your back with arms folded ... no eye contact ... until she stops biting? This works for some dogs. There is a way of yelping like a dog when she nips ... but sometimes that will excite a dog even more .... and they will keep biting. IMO she sounds like the excitable type ... although I am not there to really say.

For toys ... I have found that tying up some old rags or sheets and making knots in them make good tug ropes. Empty pop or water bottles after the cap and labels and anything that could be a choking hazzard is removed make great toys! My dogs like them better than any toy on the market! :)

When she bites put one of these toys in her mouth or initiate a game of tug with her instead of human body parts. :p You make it a trade of sorts. She puts her teeth on you ... you replace the nip with a toy or a chew treat instead. I always put a command "Toys!" as I traded my arm or hand for the article. They learned that this was acceptable and not my body parts! :)

Also it is a good idea to read in the dog training forums here at DF "NILIF" (Nothing In Life Is Free) since you will be watching her for a bit yet. Her training at her age needs to continue or she may become out of control before her owners return. You can help them out this way. When they get back ... you could give them the article to read and maybe teach them how to continue proper training.

There are a lot of things in the training forums of great use! Good luck! And I am sure more folks will come along with more advice! :)

EDIT: I forgot to add ... if she does not respond to any of this ... and keeps up biting you ... all play stops. Sort of like a time-out. You could even put her into a room and close the door for about 60 seconds, let her back out. Every time she gets out of control ... repeat! She will learn that either you play nicely ... and if you keep biting ... all the fun stops! Never use a crate for this if you have one. A crate is a place of safety and only "good" things should happen in a crate. A crate is a positive method training tool. :)
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I was having the same problem. I used the "yelping" method mentioned above.. Basically, when your pup bites too hard, yelp loudly like a dog and turn away for 20-30 seconds. Reward with attention if she comes over and licks the stop she bit. The basic theory is that dogs learns how to have "soft" mouths in the pack environment. When they bite ones of their brothers or sisters too hard, the playing stops. Your dog learns not to bite because she learns play will stop. I'm on week 2 of this and it seems to be working great. Lucy still bites a bit too hard when she gets excited but it's limited. I also read to avoid chase games and tugging games until she isn't biting anymore.
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