Puppy Biting Legs, Feet, and Pants! I might lose my mind

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Puppy Biting Legs, Feet, and Pants! I might lose my mind

This is a discussion on Puppy Biting Legs, Feet, and Pants! I might lose my mind within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; My husband and I adopted a mixed breed puppy (possibly BC mixed with Boston Terrier and a little bit of Eskimo), Theo, about 3 weeks ...

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Old 08-12-2013, 09:05 AM
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Puppy Biting Legs, Feet, and Pants! I might lose my mind

My husband and I adopted a mixed breed puppy (possibly BC mixed with Boston Terrier and a little bit of Eskimo), Theo, about 3 weeks ago. Theo is 11 weeks old. As he is a puppy, he gets mouthy and nippy often. It just seems that no matter what I do, he won't calm down and stop. Theo likes to try to bite his collar and leash when my husband or I put it on or take it off. He likes to bite while going outside, then when coming back inside. If I discourage him from eating grass and tell him to "Leave it", he begins biting my pants, legs, feet, and growling. He also does this when playing, after eating, before eating, etc.

My current method of training is to say "Ah Ah!", and redirect to a toy. If it keeps up, I put him in his enclosed area in the kitchen, and walk away for a few minutes. However, as soon as I get him out or cross over to his penned area, he starts again. While enclosed, he's also learned that I'll come back much quicker if he begins pulling up the kitchen mat or his food mat, and biting on those things. I also find the method challenging when outside; if I attempt to redirect him and it doesn't work, I can't exactly leave him alone or ignore him, even while on the leash. After trying to redirect him to a tug toy, I have to walk back inside, all while Theo is biting my legs and barking.

I was doing the yelping thing, but that seemed to rile him up more. Now "Ah Ah!" can really get him going. This has been going on since we got him! I'm incredibly frustrated. All the more frustrating...he doesn't bite my husband's legs!!! My husband gets annoyed with me for not being able to "handle this", but I don't know what else to do. I have bruises and broken skin....it's hard to "handle this" when I'm in pain and yelping for real. I've read countless articles, threads, posts, etc etc. and I'm at a loss. My husband yells NO!!! at Theo and flicks his nose...I'm just not comfortable doing that to Theo. Also, if he's attempting to bite me, I really don't want my hands anywhere near his face. Sometimes, if I'm getting too frustrated, I will put him upstairs in his crate and tell him it's time for his "relaxation station". He will go up there and calm down, but I don't want to put him up there every 20 minutes! That's how often it would be some days.

The GOOD NEWS is...Theo no longer goes after my hands and arms, only when I"m putting his collar or leash on. But he's now moved to the legs and feet. Theo is also in puppy classes, and I emailed our trainer, but I haven't heard back from her yet. I just don't know what to do. I'm trying to be very consistent in my method. This behavior has actually increased since introducing tug play into his life. He has two special tug toys, which we only use for tug (one outside, one inside). I thought tug play was supposed to cut down on biting, not increase it! Any suggestions are welcome, and thanks for reading!
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:19 AM
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oh before I forget....he also does this before and after exercise! I thought maybe we weren't exercising him enough, now I wonder how much is too much!
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:40 AM
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The time out method really worked for me. It didn't seem like it was working for a long time, but once I decided to really be consistent with it, it was worth it. Every single time he starts biting, walk away. I walked into another room and closed the door, waited 30 seconds or so, then came back out. She started nipping again, so I walked back in. Sometimes I'd have to go in and out 10 times. It takes at least a few days, even a few weeks for the urge to play bite to be overcome by the realization that it gets them nothing. Eventually my pup got to the point where I'd start walking away, and she'd stop because she didn't want me to leave the room. Now, on the rare occasions where she gets worked up enough to nip, she nips once and then realizes she should stop, and I don't even need to remind her.

The yelping noises never worked for me either. The louder I got, the more riled up she would get. A gasp noise actually ended up working best for me, but I think that was more because I began pairing a gasp with walking away. Kind of the same as a click=reward in clicker training, but a gasp=no reward instead.

Good luck. It takes a lot of patience, but you'll get through this!
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:57 PM
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Thanks! Now that I think about it, Theo will stop biting and look at me when I gasp or inhale quickly from the pain of the bite. I will try to gasp and then walk away...any suggestion for when he pulls up the kitchen mat and starts biting on that to get my attention?? Should I remove myself from the space entirely...so I don't have to see that? Maybe we should remove the mat for the time being.

For a while, this behavior was really improving, and then we introduced tugging as a means to cut down on his biting the leash (and then tugging on that). He's regressed a little bit. I know he'll eventually get the point, I just hope my ankles can take it!
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:53 PM
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For the most part, I don't think the time outs need to be long enough for him to begin chewing on the mat. 20 seconds or so should be enough. It's just to show him that play stops when he nips. If he's in there for any length of time, he'll forget that connection. Long time outs are for calming, but the short time outs are just a type of "punishment." It's called "negative punishment"- removal of a good thing. Better than positive punishment, like your husband's nose flicks, which can cause more harm than good.

If he goes for the mat immediately, it'd probably be best to remove it for now.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:25 PM
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If you go back and read some of my threads about Cobber, you'll see total desperation because of his biting (and it wasn't mouthing or nipping, it was BITING, and I had the scabs and scars to go with). Several things happened recently. First of all, might I suggest you just leave your pup's collar and leash on all the time. It may seem odd for him to run around the house trailing a leash, but (a) it makes him easy to capture if necessary, and (b) you won't have your hands anywhere near him to put the collar/leash on or take off when you go out/come back in. That will help solve the immediate hands-near-his-face issue that obviosly sets him off.

I was also flummoxed by what to do when out in the middle of the yard when Cobber would start biting my ankles, pants, and shoes. There wasn't anything to tether him to so I could get away! This is where teaching the "Leave it!" command can help. There are you tube videos on this that are a huge help. If your pup bites at your pants or ankles, try saying "Leave it!" and just stand there. As soon as he lets go, say "Yes!" or whatever your training marker word is (or clicker), and give a treat. You can reinforce this with teaching "Leave it!" for other things throughout the day. I found that Cobber finally learned to let go, sit, and wait for a treat. I was a little worried he was just clamping down on my ankle so that he could let go and get a treat, then clamp on again, but it never turned into that. As soon as he'd let go, I'd say "yes!", treat, and then try to distract him with something so he wouldn't go after my pants again.

If he's in a total meltdown and will not let go, the only thing that would work for me was picking cobber up, walking straight in the house and putting him in his crate. At that level, it often seems to be a sign that the pup needs a nap or at least a chance to calm down.

In answer to the question about the mat, yes, if he can get out of his time-out by biting at something in his enclosed space, then take the mat out. Maybe getting an x-pen so that he doesn't have anything or anywhere to go for a minute or two while he's on time out. I put Cobber in a crate I have set up in the livingroom, set the timer for one minute, and completely ignore him till the timer goes off. That's helped quite a bit. If your pup knows he can get your attention by doing something in his time-out spot, it's not going to work very well for a time out.

And lastly, it does seem to dimish with time (thank heavens!!). Cobber now actually lets me scratch his neck and put on/take off his collar without even moving his mouth towards my hand like he used to. It's wonderful! He's also most of the way through the teething process, which I think helps, too. So hang in there!!!
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:52 PM
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Yup, if there is anyone qualified by recent experience with this problem, it is CobbersMom... probably one of the toughest cases I've seen on the Forum. Check her bitey threads.

http://www.dogforum.com/search.php?searchid=1831722
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CobbersMom View Post
If you go back and read some of my threads about Cobber, you'll see total desperation because of his biting (and it wasn't mouthing or nipping, it was BITING, and I had the scabs and scars to go with). Several things happened recently. First of all, might I suggest you just leave your pup's collar and leash on all the time. It may seem odd for him to run around the house trailing a leash, but (a) it makes him easy to capture if necessary, and (b) you won't have your hands anywhere near him to put the collar/leash on or take off when you go out/come back in. That will help solve the immediate hands-near-his-face issue that obviosly sets him off.

I was also flummoxed by what to do when out in the middle of the yard when Cobber would start biting my ankles, pants, and shoes. There wasn't anything to tether him to so I could get away! This is where teaching the "Leave it!" command can help. There are you tube videos on this that are a huge help. If your pup bites at your pants or ankles, try saying "Leave it!" and just stand there. As soon as he lets go, say "Yes!" or whatever your training marker word is (or clicker), and give a treat. You can reinforce this with teaching "Leave it!" for other things throughout the day. I found that Cobber finally learned to let go, sit, and wait for a treat. I was a little worried he was just clamping down on my ankle so that he could let go and get a treat, then clamp on again, but it never turned into that. As soon as he'd let go, I'd say "yes!", treat, and then try to distract him with something so he wouldn't go after my pants again.

If he's in a total meltdown and will not let go, the only thing that would work for me was picking cobber up, walking straight in the house and putting him in his crate. At that level, it often seems to be a sign that the pup needs a nap or at least a chance to calm down.

In answer to the question about the mat, yes, if he can get out of his time-out by biting at something in his enclosed space, then take the mat out. Maybe getting an x-pen so that he doesn't have anything or anywhere to go for a minute or two while he's on time out. I put Cobber in a crate I have set up in the livingroom, set the timer for one minute, and completely ignore him till the timer goes off. That's helped quite a bit. If your pup knows he can get your attention by doing something in his time-out spot, it's not going to work very well for a time out.

And lastly, it does seem to dimish with time (thank heavens!!). Cobber now actually lets me scratch his neck and put on/take off his collar without even moving his mouth towards my hand like he used to. It's wonderful! He's also most of the way through the teething process, which I think helps, too. So hang in there!!!
Thanks for the info! I have read some of your posts regarding cobber, and while the biting phase is tough, it's relieving to know I'm not the only one who has had a biter, not just a nipper. I will practice leave it and see how theo does!
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