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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our new pup (Chewie) was estimated at 7 weeks old when we adopted him from the shelter last week. He was brought in the week before as a stray all by himself. He isn't like any puppy I've ever been around (not that I've been around many, but we have had a few puppies in my lifetime). Anyway, he is a (big time) nipper. That's ALL he wants to do around us. Hands/feet/arms/legs/clothes...doesn't matter. We can't even enjoy petting him because he puts an end to it with the biting. When he falls asleep is the only time we are able to pet him. Is this normal? He has toys, chew toys, ropes, anything I could find suitable for a puppy. We play with him as much as our "bite tolerance" will allow. He does do "sit" really well when he's calm (loves his treats). Not so much when he gets too excited.

Also, I've been trying to do the bite inhibition lessons, but it's gotten to the point that just trying to put his leash on to go outside or take it off when we come in results in him gnawing on our hand (hard) because it's right next to his face. Middle of the night potty trips are so much easier because he's too sleepy to really care.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated! I realize he's a puppy and has a long way to go, but we HAVE to be able to take him outside to potty and this is making it difficult when he's wide awake and wanting to play, but needs to go out.
 

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A couple of things from my experience - for background, I currently have a 9 week old puppy who is mouthy as hell but I've had dogs all my life.

The three things that have been making a difference for me in minimizing my puppy's mouthiness:

1. The first thing to do when he bites you is to yelp. It's seems weird, but make a high pitched, "ouch" sound. It usually gets them to pause temporarily.
2. Substitute a chew toy for your hand and praise him when he chews that.
3. If he persists, put him in time out. I have a 'fence' I have in the house that isolates where my pup can play. One corner of it is folded into a small triangle just big enough for her to sit and maybe curl into a ball. When she gets overly excited and starts biting, I put her in that for a minute or two and it's been very effective at calming her down.

You'll read a lot about people saying, "just go limp, don't pull back, and make your hands and feet unfun to play with." I find that BS. I understand the theory, but when you're being injected with a bunch of needles into sensitive parts, it's hard to go the way of a meditating monk. I try to do it when it's a very soft bite, but when there's some power behind it, I have to go the yelp, replace, and ultimately isolate solution.
 

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Puppies should generally stay with their litter until they're 8 weeks of age. Most people think the puppy needs to stay with the mother, but that is not the case, and the mother's presence is mostly unnecessary after weaning. However, puppies learn how to play and start learning bite inhibition from their littermates during this period of time.

Through no fault of yours, obviously, your puppy missed out on those vital lessons. So my first recommendation to you would be patience. Mouthing is a normal play and/or attention-seeking behavior, and your puppy had no one to teach him that sometimes it can hurt. It will likely take your puppy longer than normal to grow out of this due to the fact that he missed out on socializing with his littermates.

That being said, you can definitely work on reducing the frequency of the mouthing. I somewhat disagree with the advice in the post above, so I will address that first. Letting out a high pitched 'ouch' noise can scare a timid puppy, or can work to heighten the excitement of a drivier or more confident puppy. I do not think yelping when being mouthed is a good idea, because that can quickly turn into a game, or it can teach your puppy that sometimes scary things happen when he tries to interact with you. I also don't like the idea of the 'timeout' as described. If your puppy is mouthing for attention, picking him up and putting him somewhere is still giving him immediate attention for the biting. Instead, here is what I recommend:

1. Always have a toy handy. When your puppy mouths your hands, direct his mouth to the toy. Praise when his teeth are on the toy and play with him.
2. If he redirects and continues to mouth your skin, get up and walk away. Step over a baby gate, go into another room. This will teach your puppy that his teeth on your skin means all of the fun ends and you leave the room.
3. Re-enter the room after 10 seconds. Pick up a toy and continue to play. If teeth hit your skin, leave the room again, and this time stay gone for 20 seconds. Rinse and repeat.

This method reinforces appropriate play with a toy while also using pretty soft P- by withdrawing your attention if you get mouthed. There's no risk of scaring your puppy, or egging your puppy on by yelping. And you also don't reinforce mouthing through picking the puppy up and giving him more attention.

Particularly for the leash issue - do you need him to be leashed to take him outside? If so, can you attract his attention with a toy in one hand while you clip the leash onto his collar with the other?

ETA: This is my favorite article about puppies and I think everyone should read it before (and after) getting a puppy - https://denisefenzipetdogs.com/2015/08/30/its-a-puppy-not-a-problem/
 

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^^ What Hiraeth said. I've always found the yelping just makes them more excited, or then they yelp back because they think it's fun...

Just going to add, if the puppy is just stomping around belligerently biting everything in sight, it may be time for a nap. You may not be able to tell at this point because your pup is so new to bite inhibition, but my dog (he was 5 months old at the time) would just get super mouthy when he was overtired, where normally he was pretty good about understanding that his mouth hurt me. At that point, I enforced nap time. Either in a crate, or leashed, or whatever, but it was nap time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
drharps:

It's encouraging to hear that another little biter is showing some improvement. At 8 weeks old, I feel like we have a long road ahead.

Unfortunately for me, yelping only makes him more excited and out of control. It certainly is difficult to not yell something (ouch, no, etc.) when it hurts. Subbing a toy doesn't work once he's in a mood. Something about body parts is much more appealing than any toy and attaching a leash puts my hand right at his mouth. Many times, time out is the only thing that gets him to settle down.

I have the same problem doing the "going limp" thing, too. Doesn't work for him. It just gives him permission to bite all he wants and when he gets too rough it's difficult to get away without being attacked further (feet, legs, clothes).

I never realized that puppies who eventually grow up to be gentle, friendly adults could be so determined to gnaw and nip people as babies. Puppies are supposed to lick you to death. ;) I'm really at my wits end as taking him out without a leash at this point is not practical and getting attacked by an overzealous pup is not fun.
 

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drharps:

It's encouraging to hear that another little biter is showing some improvement. At 8 weeks old, I feel like we have a long road ahead.

Unfortunately for me, yelping only makes him more excited and out of control. It certainly is difficult to not yell something (ouch, no, etc.) when it hurts. Subbing a toy doesn't work once he's in a mood. Something about body parts is much more appealing than any toy and attaching a leash puts my hand right at his mouth. Many times, time out is the only thing that gets him to settle down.

I have the same problem doing the "going limp" thing, too. Doesn't work for him. It just gives him permission to bite all he wants and when he gets too rough it's difficult to get away without being attacked further (feet, legs, clothes).

I never realized that puppies who eventually grow up to be gentle, friendly adults could be so determined to gnaw and nip people as babies. Puppies are supposed to lick you to death. ;) I'm really at my wits end as taking him out without a leash at this point is not practical and getting attacked by an overzealous pup is not fun.
Try a slip lead. That doesn't require you to have your hand by his mouth. You just have to get the loop over his head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Puppies should generally stay with their litter until they're 8 weeks of age. Most people think the puppy needs to stay with the mother, but that is not the case, and the mother's presence is mostly unnecessary after weaning. However, puppies learn how to play and start learning bite inhibition from their littermates during this period of time.

Through no fault of yours, obviously, your puppy missed out on those vital lessons. So my first recommendation to you would be patience. Mouthing is a normal play and/or attention-seeking behavior, and your puppy had no one to teach him that sometimes it can hurt. It will likely take your puppy longer than normal to grow out of this due to the fact that he missed out on socializing with his littermates.

That being said, you can definitely work on reducing the frequency of the mouthing. I somewhat disagree with the advice in the post above, so I will address that first. Letting out a high pitched 'ouch' noise can scare a timid puppy, or can work to heighten the excitement of a drivier or more confident puppy. I do not think yelping when being mouthed is a good idea, because that can quickly turn into a game, or it can teach your puppy that sometimes scary things happen when he tries to interact with you. I also don't like the idea of the 'timeout' as described. If your puppy is mouthing for attention, picking him up and putting him somewhere is still giving him immediate attention for the biting. Instead, here is what I recommend:

1. Always have a toy handy. When your puppy mouths your hands, direct his mouth to the toy. Praise when his teeth are on the toy and play with him.
2. If he redirects and continues to mouth your skin, get up and walk away. Step over a baby gate, go into another room. This will teach your puppy that his teeth on your skin means all of the fun ends and you leave the room.
3. Re-enter the room after 10 seconds. Pick up a toy and continue to play. If teeth hit your skin, leave the room again, and this time stay gone for 20 seconds. Rinse and repeat.

This method reinforces appropriate play with a toy while also using pretty soft P- by withdrawing your attention if you get mouthed. There's no risk of scaring your puppy, or egging your puppy on by yelping. And you also don't reinforce mouthing through picking the puppy up and giving him more attention.

Particularly for the leash issue - do you need him to be leashed to take him outside? If so, can you attract his attention with a toy in one hand while you clip the leash onto his collar with the other?

ETA: This is my favorite article about puppies and I think everyone should read it before (and after) getting a puppy - https://denisefenzipetdogs.com/2015/08/30/its-a-puppy-not-a-problem/
Very interesting article with some good points. I've been trying the instructions in the Bite Inhibition post that's pinned elsewhere in this forum. However, letting him mouth me in play gets him too excited and he tends to get rough. If I stop and try to walk away, he's nipping me and grabbing my clothes. I understand he really needs to learn that bite inhibition before getting too big and I want to have more trust in his ability to be a gentle pet some day. I was hoping to be able to do each step as described in the post, but if he is going to go the opposite direction by taking advantage of me letting him mouth softly, I'm not going to be able to trust him.

As far as time out when biting, I see your point, but sometimes he's getting out of control and starts looking for trouble that he normally doesn't. It's my last resort, but does become necessary at times.

I've tried distracting with a toy, but my arm/hand is much more attractive to his mouth...

^^ What Hiraeth said. I've always found the yelping just makes them more excited, or then they yelp back because they think it's fun...

Just going to add, if the puppy is just stomping around belligerently biting everything in sight, it may be time for a nap. You may not be able to tell at this point because your pup is so new to bite inhibition, but my dog (he was 5 months old at the time) would just get super mouthy when he was overtired, where normally he was pretty good about understanding that his mouth hurt me. At that point, I enforced nap time. Either in a crate, or leashed, or whatever, but it was nap time!
Yes! I'm slowly learning this!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
can you explain what is training lessons are?
We quickly transitioned from the "yelp when he bites too hard" to the "let him mouth UNTIL he gets too hard, then leave." The second way is okay until he gets too excited...which is frequently. He knows "sit" and I can easily use it for other times (such as being fed), but once the excitement sets in, all bets are off.
 

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continue to work on his individual OB positions you don't have to use your hands to work on sit and sit stay. that way you do have some building communication skills and a redirect skill (do this instead). Not listening when you need him to listen right now don't worry about it.. that would be the time you walk away if your pup not play your game by your rules. I think this pup would like the clicker... a click is a very mysterious thing and very much gets attention and pause so you have a break in one behavior to redirect it somewhere else.. too excited too excited .... hand with a treat in it , and the pup looks at the hand, click (what was that) treat falls to the ground... it's magical lol ...

anyone in the group have a good trainer with the clicker on Youtube so OP can see and get ideas..
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
continue to work on his individual OB positions you don't have to use your hands to work on sit and sit stay. that way you do have some building communication skills and a redirect skill (do this instead). Not listening when you need him to listen right now don't worry about it.. that would be the time you walk away if your pup not play your game by your rules. I think this pup would like the clicker... a click is a very mysterious thing and very much gets attention and pause so you have a break in one behavior to redirect it somewhere else.. too excited too excited .... hand with a treat in it , and the pup looks at the hand, click (what was that) treat falls to the ground... it's magical lol ...

anyone in the group have a good trainer with the clicker on Youtube so OP can see and get ideas..
I have order some clickers which were supposed to be delivered yesterday, but were delayed until today. Anxiously awaiting their arrival!

I've never tried clicker training, but heard of it for the first time when going through obedience class with a former pup (some years ago). At this point, I'm desperate enough to try almost anything. Sometimes I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew with this little ball of fire. Other times I'm hopeful he'll grow up to be fun to hang out with without worrying about biting.
 

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do your homework reading and watching about them... you don't want to give away the magic of the clicker ... so make your sessions short and over for the day... leave your pup fascinated wanting more..... And don't feel desperate... we have all had the really obnoxious pup here and there..... we survived just fine and you will too... have to stay calm and train smart.... .. takes time for crazy puppy brain to gain some maturity to them...
 

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Clicker training: https://clickertraining.com/node/725

Ian Dunbar: http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/teaching-bite-inhibition

What breed is your pup? The Yelp method works very well with Retrievers, GSDs, and Pits. I don't know the different breeds in the DogForum who have reported success. As Dunbar suggests, it takes time. It can take 3 days of consistency before the pup even begins to understand that the yelp or saying Ouch is associated with nipping and is a 'warning' that you are about to leave.

On the other hand, some pups learn quickly and apologize by playbowing ... as they might when play fighting in their litter. If you ignore that apology, the pup may get frustrated and nip harder or bark at you when you yelp. Keep with it for two weeks and see if you're making progress.

As far as going limp when nipped, I consider that to be a safety issue, not a Bite Inhibition method.
1. If you pull when nipped that Will excite the pup.
2. If you pull while you are being nipped, you might tear your skin on the pup's razor sharp teeth. You are allowed to yelp as you are using two hands to carefully extract your hand from the razor-toothed mouth of your vampire pup.
 

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I think it's probably dependent on the dog. I never did the 'yelp' until I read some trainer online saying it could help. For our dog Tikka, it causes her to pause and slow down for a split second. I can see how a pup would take that as an energy amplifier, though.

My girlfriend has never had a pet before in her life - not even a darn goldfish - so she's past her wits end. She gave a very disgruntled, "Know what, I'm sitting over here." and stepped out of the gated area and down on the couch today. You are definitely not alone and I've had more than a few boiling over moments.

I will say my puppy has gotten much better. She's learned what hurts me and what doesn't, though she still gets too excited at times and has her, 'brain off, I'm freaking out' couple of hours every day - usually in the evening.

One new tactic that has helped which we just tried is keeping a bag of treats with us. When she knows we have treats, she tends to calm down as she wants rewards. And if she doesn't, we make her sit then give her a treat assuming she doesn't jump for the treat or nip. When she's calm, we give her a treat. She loves her food so we just use that rather than loading her full of meals and treats. It's helped a ton, but damn, she's a handful and I think it's unfortunately one of those, 'chipping away every day' situations where in a few weeks she'll be great with regard to nipping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Clicker training: https://clickertraining.com/node/725

Ian Dunbar: http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/teaching-bite-inhibition

What breed is your pup? The Yelp method works very well with Retrievers, GSDs, and Pits. I don't know the different breeds in the DogForum who have reported success. As Dunbar suggests, it takes time. It can take 3 days of consistency before the pup even begins to understand that the yelp or saying Ouch is associated with nipping and is a 'warning' that you are about to leave.

On the other hand, some pups learn quickly and apologize by playbowing ... as they might when play fighting in their litter. If you ignore that apology, the pup may get frustrated and nip harder or bark at you when you yelp. Keep with it for two weeks and see if you're making progress.

As far as going limp when nipped, I consider that to be a safety issue, not a Bite Inhibition method.
1. If you pull when nipped that Will excite the pup.
2. If you pull while you are being nipped, you might tear your skin on the pup's razor sharp teeth. You are allowed to yelp as you are using two hands to carefully extract your hand from the razor-toothed mouth of your vampire pup.
The shelter listed Chewie as a German Shepherd/Retriever mix. He was a stray so they had no facts about him. I do feel like he's slowly improving. As least when he's not excited, I can calmly say "ouch" and he (usually) removes his teeth from my hand/arm. Since something must ALWAYS be in his mouth, he frequently brings one of his toys and sits on my lap if I'm on the floor with him. While he chews on it, I can finally pet him which I couldn't do last week without immediate mouthing. A bit of progress!

BTW - The only time I've seen him do any playbowing is with our ornery cat, Bear, who just sits and looks at him like he's crazy. I've been concerned that he might chase my cats with all of this energy he has, but so far, if they turn to face him rather than run, he keeps his distance. I hope it always works for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I think it's probably dependent on the dog. I never did the 'yelp' until I read some trainer online saying it could help. For our dog Tikka, it causes her to pause and slow down for a split second. I can see how a pup would take that as an energy amplifier, though.

My girlfriend has never had a pet before in her life - not even a darn goldfish - so she's past her wits end. She gave a very disgruntled, "Know what, I'm sitting over here." and stepped out of the gated area and down on the couch today. You are definitely not alone and I've had more than a few boiling over moments.

I will say my puppy has gotten much better. She's learned what hurts me and what doesn't, though she still gets too excited at times and has her, 'brain off, I'm freaking out' couple of hours every day - usually in the evening.

One new tactic that has helped which we just tried is keeping a bag of treats with us. When she knows we have treats, she tends to calm down as she wants rewards. And if she doesn't, we make her sit then give her a treat assuming she doesn't jump for the treat or nip. When she's calm, we give her a treat. She loves her food so we just use that rather than loading her full of meals and treats. It's helped a ton, but damn, she's a handful and I think it's unfortunately one of those, 'chipping away every day' situations where in a few weeks she'll be great with regard to nipping.
My husband reacts similar to your girlfriend. He camps out on the couch where the puppy can't reach him and basically lets me be the chew toy all the time. Chewie has his moments every day, too. Taking him places really gets him going. Just riding in the car (even with chew toys and treats) is an ordeal. Then wherever we happen to go (pet store where he is carried, my mom's to visit her and her dog, or my daughter's who has no dog) he just gets so carried away and out of control. I know we need to take him as many places as possible, but it's exhausting for me to have to deal with him in constant crazy mode for the entire outing.

What food do you use that your dog likes so much? We've tried two brands which he will eat, but doesn't seem to like enough to use as treats. I'd love to be able to do that and cut back on so many treats.
 

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Mikee is a Lab/GSD mix. They grow up to be sweet dogs, but they are very nippy pups - both Labs and GSD pups have very sharp little teeth and love to bite. Chewie will need chew toys - Kongs and hard rubber bones etc.

Playbow and barking when you say ouch! etc. are an apology or sign of frustration that he doesn't understand. This mix has lots of energy and intelligence. They want to play and to learn ...

It's good that 'Ouch!' is working - it may become a form of communication rather than just a cue, meaning 'Please stop. I don't like what you are doing.' I used something similar, and after Mikee learned bite inhibition, I could yipe if he ran away (wanting me to play chase) when we played Fetch or Tug. And, he would come back to playing. This is different that saying "no!" which might have simply cued him to Stop running for this one instance, requiring a repeated "No!" every time we played. But, with the Yipe, he 'fast mapped', learning the rules of the game (Fetch or Tug, and so on) very quickly.

After Chewie learned that Ouch! means teeth do not touch skin .... ever, you might be able to use it with other activities. Be sure that everyone says ouch! initially, so that he can more easily generalize the idea.

In addition, with solid bite inhibition training, during an emergency such as a broken bone, or a bad scare such as a car accident, when you grab Chewie and his first instinct is to Bite, his second instinct will be to inhibit - not breaking the skin ... or not even completing the bite.
 
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