Biting issue with recently adopted Pitbull/Boxer Mix

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Biting issue with recently adopted Pitbull/Boxer Mix

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Old 06-08-2019, 06:50 AM
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Biting issue with recently adopted Pitbull/Boxer Mix

Hello everyone, I am new to the forum and also new to dog ownership. I’ve wanted a dog my entire life and finally adopted a 3.5 year old, 65 pound Pitbull Boxer mix. He is fixed and is fairly house broken. His previous owner didn’t have much time for him and he has very little socialization skills. Even so he is very good with other dogs and around new people he gets very excited wanting love and attention. He simply acts like a very large puppy 95% of the time. My issue is that he goes through these “clicks” where he almost flips a switch from being very loving and affectionate to having a biting fixation. I can not decipher whether he is mouthing trying to play and doesn’t realize his size or bite force; or if something else is occurring where he is showing signs of aggression. There really is no signs before he does this, he will just be very casual and then trying to mouth you very roughly. When you attempt to stop him or pull your hand away because he’s biting too hard he will try to almost lunge back at your hands or legs bite a little harder. We try to keep him off the couch until he becomes more comfortable with the house and this biting sensation subsides, yet he will dive into the couch and become very territorial not moving and biting very hard.
I cannot tell whether he doesn’t recognize that it hurts (due to maybe his previous owner not establishing this with him) or if he’s doing it for another reason. He will bite so rough that on occasion you will actually hear his jaw and teeth snapping closed. We are starting with a dog trainer tomorrow to see if he would be able to recognize this behavior and see if he has any tips to be able to help modify this unwanted behavior. This situations scares me because we love him so much and I really do not want to surrender him back to the shelter. We spoil him with love, toys and attention but when he goes through these “biting ticks” we don’t know how to reciprocate to enforce to him that this isn’t acceptable behavior and make him stop.
If anyone has any ideas or tricks to help an adult dog learn about biting or bite inhibition I would really appreciate it because being a first time dog owner this is all new to me and I don’t know where else to turn besides a behavioral specialist. I really appreciate your time in reading and any information you can provide me!
Thank you Tyler
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:02 AM
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Is there any common theme before he bites? Anxious about someone new in the home for example? Can he be redirected easily?


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Old 06-08-2019, 11:18 AM
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Does he get enough exercise? A good run in the morning and again in the evening would be great to remove all this energy. Some food puzzles to also challenge him mentally and serving him his food in a Kong (wet his kibble, fill it into a Kong and freeze it) will slow his feeding and keep him longer occupied.

Keep training him commands like "sit" "down" "paw" and such to get some structured manners, which you can also use to redirect him. Playing games of fetch and tug of war will teach him where it is appropriate to put his teeth in play. Have a rope toy at hand to redirect him when he "mouths" your hands.

Not sure if you can teach bite inhibition to an adult dog, since this skill is learned before the age of 12 weeks, but you can teach him to bring you a toy when he wants to play.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:09 AM
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We adopted our dog much younger but have been dealing with similar issues since we got her just over a year ago. She actually sounds a lot like your dog, down to the couch-biting and flipping a behavior switch. It's a very stressful, heartbreaking situation but there are things you can do to work with him!

You probably already know that the busier you can keep your dog, the happier he'll be. Frozen Kongs, puzzle toys, bully sticks and other things to chew on. We tore strips from old jeans and braided them to give her something to chew and tug. Training or other fun classes (we like Nosework) give you guys activities to work on together. Lots of exercise, of course, and a variety of places to hike/walk to give him new things to sniff and explore. My dog is happiest and best-behaved in the woods. I think it's the only place she has never bitten us.

Now, in the moment of the biting, things are really high stress. You or other people nearby might be shouting random commands to try to get him to listen to *anything*. We found the shouting just amped things up and made the situation worse. The best thing for both of you is to separate yourself if at all possible. In the house, keep baby gates or some other kind of barrier that you can step around so that you can leave the situation. For outside, I keep a carabiner on the leash handle so I can clip her to a sign/tree/fence and step away. It kind of shocks them out of that "monkey brain" state they're in. Another suggestion I got from a behaviorist is to keep a small noisy container of high-value treats with you. Get him used to the sound it makes when you shake it and treat him. That sound can also flip the switch in the moment and then you can run him through a number of commands before you give him a treat (so he doesn't associate the treat with the biting).

It's good you're working with a trainer and it's important that it's a trainer who uses positive enforcement since any kind of force or punishment could make him stressed and make the behavior worse. I just started with a new trainer yesterday and she pointed out that in one of the situations Luna is prone to biting me, she is yawning, which is a sign of stress. Apparently in biting me and my clothes she's trying to protect me by pulling me away from other people (doesn't make sense to us but their minds work differently!). Hopefully your trainer can point out these signs so that you can work to prevent the behavior in the first place and replace it with something else. The behaviorist we saw last year stressed that prevention is key.

Know that this will take time and a lot of attention but there's no reason to believe you'll have to surrender your dog. Oh and I recommend Karen Pryor's books which explain how to shape an animal's behavior using positive methods.

Good luck with everything and let us know how it goes or if you have any other questions.
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:50 AM
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I have a similar problem, except it comes with agression, I have a labrador-cocker-great Dane mix, he's big and 1.5 years old. We adopted him at 1 month cause he was abandoned. He's the only dog we have. We have a big house, with more than enough space for him to run in the yard, plus we take him for a walk every day. Lately he's been biting or trying to. This usually happens when he just woke up, you would say hi, and we would walk towards you wiggling his tail, and when he gets close enough, he agressively goes to bite the hands, just the hands. He doesn't show his teeth or anything before, he just suddenly throws to bite. It got dangerous last night, where he slept with me because it was raining. In the morning he woke up, and he climb on top on me on the bed and started kissing my face and arms. I touched him to pet him and he frantically started attacking me, very agressively he would bite my hands. He has had trainers, we constantly train him, he is very obedient when you have a prize in your hand, but not so much without it. What can I do? Why can this be?
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyroscoping View Post
I have a similar problem, except it comes with agression, I have a labrador-cocker-great Dane mix, he's big and 1.5 years old. We adopted him at 1 month cause he was abandoned. He's the only dog we have. We have a big house, with more than enough space for him to run in the yard, plus we take him for a walk every day. Lately he's been biting or trying to. This usually happens when he just woke up, you would say hi, and we would walk towards you wiggling his tail, and when he gets close enough, he agressively goes to bite the hands, just the hands. He doesn't show his teeth or anything before, he just suddenly throws to bite. It got dangerous last night, where he slept with me because it was raining. In the morning he woke up, and he climb on top on me on the bed and started kissing my face and arms. I touched him to pet him and he frantically started attacking me, very agressively he would bite my hands. He has had trainers, we constantly train him, he is very obedient when you have a prize in your hand, but not so much without it. What can I do? Why can this be?
I would look for a good behaviorist in your area. A lot of trainers don't have the training themselves to deal with true aggressive behaviors in dogs.
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