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We have a 12 week old tibetan terrier who is extremely mouthy and wants to chew on our hands constantly. We decided to have a trainer come to the house to help us with the issue. I picked the trainer based on stellar reviews on yelp.

The session was based on applying a physical behavioral correction, as the puppy just doesn't understand the concept of "no." I'll admit that I am a total softee with dogs and to hear them yelp makes my heart hurt. But this specific correction seemed really harsh to me.

The correction was to grasp the skin around the base of the skull tightly and give a quick tug until the pup stopped whining and squirming. When this was first demonstrated, I was not expecting the yelping, crying, and struggling that followed and I had to hold myself back from getting involved. After the grasp was released our pup started coughing and continued to do so each time the correction was applied. The trainer asked if he had been coughing before this since we have only had him for a week. I had never heard him cough and I had been specifically keeping an ear out for kennel cough. Ruling out kennel cough, the trainer said that, although it's rare, some dogs just have a "sensitive trachea."

My questions are, is this type of behavioral correction a common one used? And is it appropriate for our pup given the response he had to it? Is there anything else that we can try that doesn't appear to inflict pain? I'm almost positive that I could not be consistent with this method because it seems like it's hurting him.

Thanks for any advice.
 

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Run far away from this trainer. Ive never heard of that method before and it could absolutely seriously hurt the dog. Positive trainers would never administer physical punishment as yours seems to have done. If I was doing a session with you I would have taught you redirection and "it's yer choice" which is about teaching self control. You can find a lot of info on that with a simple Google search. Don't put your pup through that again.

Puppies mouth and nip because they're teething and they don't have hands so that's how they explore the world. They need to be taught control and how to choose appropriate things to chew on. It's easy but just takes some time and consistency, and does NOT require physically putting your hands on your pup in a negative way.
 

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I'd also run away and then leave a negative review on the site the page saying they use harsh negative methods and physically hurt your dog. and maybe even include a link as to why you shouldn't use physical corrections.
 

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On top of the "run far away" commentary that everyone else has supplied (which I totally agree with), I'd like to say that you do NOT need a trainer because your 12 week old puppy is mouthy. ALL 12 week old puppies are mouthy.

You are NOT going to train mouthiness out of your puppy (unless you make him totally terrified of you). Hopefully, after he is done teething (around 6 months old), he will be less inclined to bite your hands. My puppy is 14 weeks old and has already learned to bite softer, though he still grabs me pretty hard on occasion. Someone else on this forum has recently stated that she couldn't pet her puppy until he was 8 months old because he was so mouthy. The age at which they grow out of the behavior is totally dependent on the individual.

That's simply a natural part of owning a puppy. Provide toys and chews, then verbally correct with an "ah" and redirect away from your hands to a toy when he tries to bite you. Some people also try yelping loudly, as that signals to the puppy that biting your hands hurts you. It worries me slightly that you would hire a trainer to try to get rid of a totally normal and natural behavior, instead of allowing time, maturity and positive corrections take their course.
 

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This sounds horrible. The trainer has no business training anyone's dog! Biting is completely NORMAL for puppies. Some are more mouthy than others, but they all grow out of it. It's a phase that you just have to go through and manage and redirect as best you can until it's over.
 

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What worked for my pup was to either have a toy ready for her. At one point we had piles of toys around for this. If she kept biting I would get up and stop playing with her. Sometimes I'd have to leave the room, but that was only a couple times. She learns very fast and it's my attention she wants, so she learned that biting resulted in no attention. She is 9 months now and the only time she puts her mouth on people is when she is very excited, but it's very gentle. It did take her a lot longer to stop biting my BF's father, but that is because he will not do the training and is a total pushover. None of the dogs listen to him, they think he is a great toy and treat dispenser.
 

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Yeah. Run far away. This type of training will ruin your puppy and make him afraid of you. And it might physically injure him long term if it's strong enough to make him cough. This is *not* how the majority of people train bite inhibition.

Puppies do not understand "no". They don't understand English in general. You need to remove all interaction when he bites so he learns that not biting = fun play time, and biting = play time ends and people leave.

ETA: I also agree with those who said that all 12 week old puppies are mouthy. It's what they do, everybody goes through it, and you'll be fine. You don't need a professional trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was actually expecting to get a lot of responses saying that I need to toughen up and that this is how the puppy needs to learn. I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds this a bit extreme. The trainers explanation of how the correction works is that it just simulates what the mother would do if the puppy is being rough - that is, she would grasp the scruff of his neck with her teeth and give a sharp tug. I didn't mean to make it seem like the correction was to basically strangle the puppy, although given the coughing it induces, maybe it is doing that to some degree. Does this theory behind the correction change your thoughts on it, or is it still an unnecessarily harsh method?
 

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You need to have rules, and you need to be persistent (dog training is about consistency and persistence more than anything), but you do not need to make your puppy scream and physically hurt them either.

That type of training is rooted in the belief that dogs think we are other dogs, and that we can simulate what a dog would do. For one, they know we are people, and two, we cannot possibly act exactly like the mother of another species would act. So better to use our large human brains and figure out something that works better :p

Also, IME, mother dogs are usually pretty tolerant of puppy shenanigans at 12 weeks. I watched my puppy's mother with them at 8 weeks and they were running roughshod over her while she just calmly accepted it. Most dogs do not start to correct rude puppy behavior until the pups are much older. Some are less tolerant or more tolerant, but it's not like every time a puppy bites his mother is grabbing his scruff and shaking him. In fact, I've never seen another dog scruff a puppy other than to gently carry it around. The corrections I have seen from adult dogs towards have involved bared teeth and growling but no physical contact whatsoever.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just to clarify why we brought in a trainer for such a young puppy - First, my two other dogs never chewed hands like this and so I was worried that it was beyond normal puppy behavior. Second, the chewing had escalated to biting so hard as to draw blood. Third, he gets totally fixated on hands to the point where he doesn't even look at the toy or treat we are trying to substitute. It's very OCD. I would actually be thrilled if he took this out on a shoe because my hands hurt and I can't pet him or play with him.

My Westie did have a milder form of the hand chewing but it was rapidly corrected by making a sharp high pitched "Oww". He would instantly stop. After a couple of "Owws," he never chewed hard again. I tried that with this puppy and it worked for one day. The next day, it actually made him more fixated with much harder bites. I called a trainer because I just didn't know what else to do.

Tibetan terriers are supposedly one of the slowest breeds to mature. And it's slow maturation of everything - bones, behavior, dentician..... So the teething issue is going to be around for many more months.
 

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His behavior still sounds entirely in the realm of normal. My adult dog was the same as a pup. Your other dogs were just easy ;)
 

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Third, he gets totally fixated on hands to the point where he doesn't even look at the toy or treat we are trying to substitute. It's very OCD. I would actually be thrilled if he took this out on a shoe because my hands hurt and I can't pet him or play with him.
Petting will come in due time, once he learns what hands are for. Which is to say, all GOOD things come from your hands, certainly not scruffing or corrections. In the meantime, for playing you might want to try a puppy version of a flirt pole with a toy attached to the end of it. At least that way there's a disconnect between the toy and your hands.
 

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My roommate's Keeshond was one of those dogs we couldn't pet for a LOOOOONG time. All dogs are different, just because your other dogs weren't as bad doesn't mean your pup isn't normal. Everyone has given you sound advice on how to manage it while your pup grows up. Some are easier than others, but using physical corrections will never end with a well-rounded, well-trained dog. If you choose to bring in a trainer again, make sure they don't mention dominance, pack theory, "this is what other dogs would do," etc. If they do, don't waste your time. Positive reinforcement is a MUST.
 

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First, I'd have to have someone restrain ME if someone tried to scruff/restrain my dog like that. It risks injury to the dog (trachea collapse for example which smaller breeds are more prone to and eye injury which in this case snub-nosed breeds would be more prone to), it is frightening to the dog, and it can cause the dog to become hand-shy.

Using scruffing as a training technique also tells me that the trainer is working from outdated and debunked behavioral information.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks to all for your input. We will just see how he matures and try some of the things mentioned here. I feel pretty bad about putting him through the training session :(
When I was researching the trainer's organization, I assumed that they would use positive techniques because a lot of their work is with local shelters. I would have thought physical corrections would cause all sorts of issues with shelter dogs.
 

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His behavior still sounds entirely in the realm of normal. My adult dog was the same as a pup. Your other dogs were just easy ;)
Yup. Titan is 14 weeks old and has JUST stopped biting my hands when I reach for him. He still nibbles and bites too hard sometimes, though, especially when he's been playing and is overstimulated. He's drawn blood more times than I can count, at this point, and I still consider him totally normal.
 

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Lol I was LIVID when a petco employee did the hand correction with Cosmo where he slams his fingers into his side with a sharp noise but if someone did this to Cosmo oh ho ho I would be in court right now.

Not only run, but let everyone in the class know that what he's doing is wrong. Leave negative reviews up and down whatever pages he has. Report him to your local shelters, pet stores, and animal facilities so they never hire or associate with him. I'd consider that animal abuse, and I would personally report him to my county so they're aware of what he's doing. That's not correction that's torture. The animal is screaming in pain. Bad. Shame.

All puppies mouth. Some more than others. Redirect his mouthing to toys that he likes gnawing on. Find a nylabone that's relatively soft to mimic the feeling of your hand. Give him ice cubes or frozen fruit like strawberries and apple slices to chew on, his gums are in pain. When he chews your hands stand up and ignore him for a few minutes and then try again. Repeat until he realizes chewing hands = no attention.
 
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