9 week old puppy constantly mouths & bites, during play!

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9 week old puppy constantly mouths & bites, during play!

This is a discussion on 9 week old puppy constantly mouths & bites, during play! within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; We picked up our puppy when he was 7 weeks old; he's a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter mix so of course he has lots of energy. ...

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Old 09-19-2014, 04:57 PM
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9 week old puppy constantly mouths & bites, during play!

We picked up our puppy when he was 7 weeks old; he's a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter mix so of course he has lots of energy.

I know he's young but we're having trouble getting him to listen when he plays, especially identifying the meaning of the word, "no". We've used the positive reinforcement techniques with treats, favourite toys and praise as well as distraction methods such as replacing an item he is biting (our hands, legs, etc) with a toy that he's allowed to bite.

When we try and play or cuddle with him he gets so excited that he starts nipping which turns into hard biting as he gets more wound up. If we ignore him, say no, or distract with a toy, he still bites; when we say "no" he sometimes seems to get more determined and aggressive, which makes it hard to play with him and get his energy out.

I know he is a young puppy and training is a process, it's just I have had several puppies in the past and they were a lot more receptive to demands/requests etc. Is there anything we may not be doing that could help? Maybe it's a dominance issue? I believe amount his litter mates he was one of the dominant puppies, if not thee. Any input/insight would be much appreciated!
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Old 09-19-2014, 05:25 PM
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Hi. I wouldn't stop the biting and nipping of hands and other off-limit objects by replacing them. He may view it as his bad behavior leading to being given a toy or whatever you give him. I'd just give him a very stern "No", accompanied by fitting body posture and tone of voice, and end the interaction. He needs to understand that the fun ends with his good behavior. If need be, put yourself in a mood dark enough to ooze from you if he seems to think you're still too cheerful to mean it. He'll smell the change in your "aura" and go "uh-oh".

Also, at this age such behavior is not unusual. Just be consistent in correcting it as it occurs. If he gets more wound up through correction, crank up the corrective behavior until it ruins the fun for him. Make the "No" strike a cord, and one that is not encouraging. Pick a "No" that makes him flinch. Not a gentle, loving "No" because why would that impress him? And beyond ignoring, leave him alone. Walk away. Or put him into time-out. Become utterly unavailable to further attempts to play and mess with you. Be reliable in utterly ruining his fun if he misbehaves, by taking yourself, his toys, his food, or anything else he enjoys while misbehaving, out of the equation. Don't give him a feeling of "I think we've had enough, sweetie". Give him "That's it".

For focusing on you, try teaching him "Focus!". You do this by holding his favorite toy or treat up to your face - so he stares right at you - and with a stern index finger, preferably the one also holding the treat, you say "Focus!". If he holds his focus on your face and finger for at least 3 seconds, give him the treat. Repeat, increasing the time limit, until the gesture and the word are enough and the treat can be taken out of it. He'll have a Pavlov moment anyway because there used to be a treat involved. Also great for diverting his attention from joggers, bikes, cats,...
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:10 PM
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I used a method I read somewhere when Loki was about that age. Whenever he "mouthed" too hard, I would snatch my hand away, do a high-pitched yelp "OWWWW!" and glare at him like he was a little axe murderer. It startled him but he caught on really fast and only mouthed gently after that - and even then he would look up as if to ask if that was too hard. I don't think you can keep a puppy that little from using his mouth to explore everything.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MattMann View Post
We picked up our puppy when he was 7 weeks old; he's a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter mix so of course he has lots of energy.

I know he's young but we're having trouble getting him to listen when he plays, especially identifying the meaning of the word, "no". We've used the positive reinforcement techniques with treats, favourite toys and praise as well as distraction methods such as replacing an item he is biting (our hands, legs, etc) with a toy that he's allowed to bite.

When we try and play or cuddle with him he gets so excited that he starts nipping which turns into hard biting as he gets more wound up. If we ignore him, say no, or distract with a toy, he still bites; when we say "no" he sometimes seems to get more determined and aggressive, which makes it hard to play with him and get his energy out.

I know he is a young puppy and training is a process, it's just I have had several puppies in the past and they were a lot more receptive to demands/requests etc. Is there anything we may not be doing that could help? Maybe it's a dominance issue? I believe amount his litter mates he was one of the dominant puppies, if not thee. Any input/insight would be much appreciated!
You've only had him 2 weeks, that's not enough time for the training to stick. No, it's not a dominance issue, dominance theory has been debunked, here's our thread on it https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...nce-dogs-4076/ .

He's a puppy, what amounts to a two year old human baby. Energetic, exuberant, pups tend to forget how hard they are biting, and they also get to wound up to remember that they shouldn't bite humans, that comes in a few weeks, maybe a month or two, longer for some exceptionally crazy pups, if the human sticks with it.

Giving him a toy is not rewarding him for biting you if you do it right. What you are teaching him by giving him a toy is that that's what he's supposed to play with. You give it to him and you play with him. I know what you'll say (I had a crazy pup like yours!). "my pup goes back to biting me", right? That's where you have to teach him what his biting causes you to do. To do that you ignore the pup, get up out of reach (cross over the baby gate, leave the room and shut the door, put him in his crate with a nice chew, put him in an ex-pen), pup bites human, human goes away. What I did with my pup, was I'd have a toy ready and when he bite me I'd give him a toy and play wiht him with it, if he bite me again I'd give him back the toy (I did that right when he bite me), if he did it again fun time was over and puppy ceased to exist, I got up out of his reach and ignored him for a few minutes before trying again. He learned that if he wanted to play with me he had to get a toy.

I Never played with him with my hands or feet, not even for a couple seconds.

Don't punish him for biting on you all scolding, spanking, etc. will accomplish is to teach him that you are unpredictable and scary. Don't holler at him, don't yelp, don't yell ouch, it seems that that is just getting him riled up, some dogs doing that works with, but it didn't with mine. He seemed to view me as a squeaky toy if I made noise.

Don't try to cuddle with him, and I'd lay off petting, unless you know he's really sleepy. Like I said, I had a puppy like him, he seemed to think cuddling was me trying to wrestle, and petting was an invitation to play. Once he's out of crazy puppy stage you'll be able to cuddle and pet him, but for now stick to doing so when he's really tired.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:00 PM
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Oh dear. He's a puppy and this is what puppies do.
Trying to train him not to use his mouth at this age is like telling a 6 month old baby not to suck his fingers and thumb.

At this age it is mostly a management issue, and the HUMAN's job to keep his hands and feet out of reach.
Use a toy always when you are interacting with him.

And above all don't stir him up and get him all excited. When you do that, the puppy simply cannot stop biting.

Do not scold the puppy or yell "no" at him. Again, that is like scolding a baby for putting his fingers in his mouth.
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Old 09-20-2014, 07:54 AM
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Hi. I wouldn't stop the biting and nipping of hands and other off-limit objects by replacing them. He may view it as his bad behavior leading to being given a toy or whatever you give him. I'd just give him a very stern "No", accompanied by fitting body posture and tone of voice, and end the interaction. He needs to understand that the fun ends with his good behavior. If need be, put yourself in a mood dark enough to ooze from you if he seems to think you're still too cheerful to mean it. He'll smell the change in your "aura" and go "uh-oh".

Also, at this age such behavior is not unusual. Just be consistent in correcting it as it occurs. If he gets more wound up through correction, crank up the corrective behavior until it ruins the fun for him. Make the "No" strike a cord, and one that is not encouraging. Pick a "No" that makes him flinch. Not a gentle, loving "No" because why would that impress him? And beyond ignoring, leave him alone. Walk away. Or put him into time-out. Become utterly unavailable to further attempts to play and mess with you. Be reliable in utterly ruining his fun if he misbehaves, by taking yourself, his toys, his food, or anything else he enjoys while misbehaving, out of the equation. Don't give him a feeling of "I think we've had enough, sweetie". Give him "That's it".

For focusing on you, try teaching him "Focus!". You do this by holding his favorite toy or treat up to your face - so he stares right at you - and with a stern index finger, preferably the one also holding the treat, you say "Focus!". If he holds his focus on your face and finger for at least 3 seconds, give him the treat. Repeat, increasing the time limit, until the gesture and the word are enough and the treat can be taken out of it. He'll have a Pavlov moment anyway because there used to be a treat involved. Also great for diverting his attention from joggers, bikes, cats,...
If this doesn't work, do you then suggest escalating the punishment to physical corrections? Then if a mild physical correction doesn't work, do you suggest delivering even harsher punishment?

This is a young puppy. Starting out this relationship with corrections is the last thing I'd recommend.

I don't want a puppy or dog who looks at me and thinks "uh oh".
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:07 AM
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No escalating, just repeating until received. If undesired behavior is the only thing that's punished, the puppy shouldn't develop issues.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:27 AM
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No escalating, just repeating until received. If undesired behavior is the only thing that's punished, the puppy shouldn't develop issues.

Have you ever had a hard temperament puppy? By that I mean one that's fearless, that couldn't care less about how much you raised your voice, about how ticked off you got?

My terrier mix was like that. I could loose my temper, and shout at the top of my voice at him and he'd stop for maybe 2 seconds, I could make my voice as deep as possible, while standing over him in a threatening manner, and he didn't care. That's the type of puppy that the punishment has to be escalated to correct the behavior. I wandered down that road for a bit, if I would have continued the beatings would have commenced.

The flip side of the coin was another puppy that I had, I discovered just how sensitive she was when I slightly raised my voice at her. She cringed like I had beat her, and started avoiding me. That's the type of puppy that can be quickly shutdown by raised, mean sounding, voices, and threatening postures. They become afraid to try anything and you and the world becomes scary to them. It took me a week or so to win back my puppy's trust and the relationship wasn't quite the same afterwards.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:42 AM
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"No Escalating, just repeating until received"
This is Killing Me, I swear to Dog , this comment is almost worth getting barred for @Rain.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:50 AM
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@MattMann, honestly buy or make a flirt pole, you can google DIY projects online. Make a smaller one for your livingroom/armchair, and ignore and redirect as stated above. I like the flirt pole because it gets some distance between me and the dog Otherwise your skin will toughen up and it will work itself out by 6 ish months. I say it repeatedly on multiple forums, my girls, and many before them are biting machines, have never been corrected for biting and all figure it out around 6 or 7 months.
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