Cannot find effective training method

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Cannot find effective training method

This is a discussion on Cannot find effective training method within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Hello all, This is my first post here. I joined fairly recently and have browsed through the forums for several weeks as well. I have ...

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Old 03-10-2015, 11:39 PM
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Cannot find effective training method

Hello all,

This is my first post here. I joined fairly recently and have browsed through the forums for several weeks as well. I have been searching for answers to issues we are having with our puppy.

The puppy is a 4 month old golden retriever x chocolate lab. He is very obedient, learns quickly, and is obviously very eager to please.

The issue is that he WILL NOT stop chewing on my arms, feet, legs, hands, and pants. Whatever he can grab. I have tried saying "NO" and then replacing my hand with a favourite toy. I've tried throwing a pop can filled with coins on the ground to get his focus off biting me and then saying "NO". This has been completely ineffective and he drops it immediately, then continues biting harder. Yelping or saying "OUCH" and then ignoring him has not worked either. He either bites my knees when I turn away, or if I leave the room he will hop up on a table, chair, and look up on the counters until I return. I've tried our veterinarian's recommendation of pinning him on his side and telling him "NO" and then waiting till he relaxes and letting him up. His focus on biting/chewing on me is so strong that at this point I really can't seem to direct it elsewhere. If I can stop the biting for a few seconds, he immediately starts biting again. The biting is usually not very painful and I am assuming it is teething, but it has been 3 weeks of this and I need to find a way to solve this.

The other issue we are having is that he jumps up and it has also been difficult to stop up until this point. We use similar methods as with biting (ignoring, distracting, pinning on his side) as well as trying to teach him to sit instead. Again, nothing has worked. This problem is especially bad when I try to sit at a chair at the kitchen table. He immediately jumps up and chews on my arms. No matter how many times I stand up and ignore him, leave the room etc. he will not stop this even for 1 minute.

We take him for 2 walks/day, play fetch 1-2 times/day, do several small training sessions/day, and are in puppy classes as the local humane society. He sleeps in a crate at night, and stays in his crate whenever we have to go somewhere that he can't come. We try to make the crate a very positive experience by giving him treats when he goes in and leave a favourite toy in there for him. He whines/barks a bit when we do this and does seem to have a bit of separation anxiety there. House training has gone well with him and we have not had an accident in a while now.

We love him to bits, we just want to find a way to be able to live peacefully with the guy. I'm sorry to have my first post be a question. We would be extremely grateful if anyone has some advice we could use to help here.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:47 PM
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You've only had him for (I'm assuming) about two months. Trying that many methods in that short of a period of time will confuse him. You have to pick one, stick with it, and be extremely consistent.

I like a three-strike rule. Pup bites, pause and offer a toy. Pup bites again, move away, pause, offer toy. Pup bites a third time, goes into the crate with a chew for a little while to calm down. Puppies can overstimulate themselves and, like toddlers, they can get even more rambunctious and ornery when tired. (Think of a two year old refusing to take a nap and getting cranky.)

Not sure if you've tried it, but Bitter Apple spray might help a little. Put it on your hands, pant legs, knees, anywhere he bites.

For removing yourself, tether him to a chair/table/something heavy first. Play with him with a toy. When he goes for you, offer the toy. When you have to remove yourself, step away from his reach and turn your back. No attention. No scolding. Just remove ALL attention.

Some pups are bitey little landsharks who get even worse with yelping as it eggs them on.

Definitely don't pin him down! It's intimidating to most dogs, and if it's not, it'll rile him up more as he'll think you're playing (puppies pin each other during play, so...).

No shouting "no" either. Scolding rarely works the way we want it to, and if all he's seeking is attention, even negative attention like a scolding means he got what he wanted. And throwing pop cans won't help either.

ETA: the jumping.

Are you rewarding him when he does have his paws on the ground? If you want to stop jumping, it's a two-step process. Ignore the jumping; then when all four paws are on the ground, even for an instant, that is when you reward with food/a game of tug/attention/etc. Just ignoring won't do much good.
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Last edited by Rennajade; 03-10-2015 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 03-11-2015, 01:09 AM
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You've got a mix of two very mouthy breeds, so yep he's going to bite. Cute, furry, little, land shark isn't he?

To add to Rennajade's great advice, you need to do what she suggested EVERY time he bites you. If you sometimes let him bite on you, and sometimes play with him with your hands and feet, you just teach him to be persistent because sometimes it's allowed.

Ditch the shaker cans, and the pinning him. At best he thinks you are playing and has a hard enough temperament to stand up to such things, at worse you teach him to fear you, or to ignore the punishment and you'll be searching for even harsher consequences, when punishment is not what's needed. Figure out why he's behaving like he is / what he's trying to accomplish by it. In your pups case I'd think a few things are going on, he may be teething, he's playing with you like he would a pup, and he's jumping for attention / to greet y'all. Next teach him what he can do to get what he wants, play with him with his toys, give him good chews, teach him to sit to greet you. Don't give him what he wants when he's behaving badly, leave him alone when he won't play with the toy or chew but bites on you, or when he's jumping on you.

Check out Kikopup on youtube for some great training videos, she has a lot that's geared towards puppies.
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Old 03-11-2015, 09:46 PM
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I just posted almost this exact same complaint about my puppy before reading this. I'm slightly relieved I'm not the only one. The only unfortunate difference is that my pup bites HARD. Punctures skin, hard. I like the response about tethering them to something while teaching them not to bite you with the 3 pronged approach though. I think I'll try that.

I hope you find what works for you!
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Old 03-13-2015, 01:54 PM
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When my dog was a pup, a member here gave me a great suggestion of moving very, very slowly around my puppy when he was mouthy. It helped keep him calmer, and it was as inconvenient as it may sound. It worked very well. We stuck with the "offer toy, if he bites again, remove attention, if he bites after that, remove self entirely" routine and while it took a while, it worked very well.

Keep in mind that when puppies are teething, they are a little more bitey and mouthy. Our dog stopped being as mouthy after he got through teething. Good luck!
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Old 03-14-2015, 01:17 PM
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Old 03-17-2015, 08:31 AM
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Whoops, my post should read "it WAS NOT as inconvenient as it may sound". sorry!
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Old 03-20-2015, 10:45 AM
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When my lab was young he did the whole gnawing on hands/arms/cloths thing. What we did was every time he'd start biting we'd gently put his paw in his mouth so he was biting that. We did that every time and in a couple weeks it stopped.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:49 PM
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have you worked on bite inhibition yet? When you first get your puppy you let them mouth you, but yelp and stop play if it hurts, then gradually your threshold decreases until she is not allowed to touch her teeth to you at all. I still allow my 5 month puppy to nibble my hand a little only if I initiate it ( a good gum rub can help with teething)

Rennajade is right about sticking to one method, consistency is so important, puppies will only respond to correction if the consequences for the behaviour are the same 100% of the time. Be careful about the bitter Apple, it works great for some things but I got it on a small cut on my hand while spraying it on some delicious cat poop in our yard and it hurt like crazy.

We use the tree method because we have kids, Basically whenever puppy does anything you don't like, you freeze and become a tree, just don't move, be really boring, if you are trying to greet her, freeze until paws are all on the ground. Then when she is doing something you do like, immediately be all fun and give her treats or keep playing with her.

After 3 months of training our dog will occasionally still jump at non family members, and has accidentally bitten me a couple of times lunging for a toy. It's a process that takes a long time.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:26 PM
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I just want to provide an update as to how things are going. We are closing in on 6 months of age and finally (in the last couple of weeks) he seems to have had some sort of awakening to the idea that biting is bad. He hasn't stopped completely but it has tapered off significantly.

For us, the yelping helped with bite inhibition to an extent, but has little effect on deterring biting and occasionally made him more excited about the situation, as was stated might happen.

We employed the 3 strike rule with a slight modification. Archie usually has no interest in toys after having bitten or nibbled on us, so we ended up purchasing mini cucumbers and placed them in the freezer. On the first bite we would say no biting and try to offer a toy in place, on the second (which was inevitable as feet were much better than toys) we would say no biting again, wait for him to stop, then give him a frozen cucumber to gnaw on for a while. On the third occurrence we would leave the room for a brief period of time. He was always a bit saddened by this but only recently seemed to connect that it was his biting that caused it.

Archie also used to try and gnaw our fingers when we gave him a belly rub. This is where the toys did come in handy (and only in this situation). Now when he wants a belly rub he approaches with a toy rope or some other toy he enjoys chewing on. It's pretty funny to watch him trot up to someone with the rope in his mouth in hopes that he can score some scratches.

The jumping up is also slowly improving.

Thanks everyone for the advice. It has been helping greatly. I didn't realize it would take so long for him to understand biting was innapropriate and the consistency was definitely a key in the process.
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