Need Help with aggressive biting in 14m old

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Need Help with aggressive biting in 14m old

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Old 02-18-2014, 08:59 PM
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Angry Need Help with aggressive biting in 14m old

My fiancÚ and I just brought a new puppy into our lives, what we think is a border collie/lab mix. We really love these two breeds so we are really excited to have one in our own family.

She is coming along with potty training well; she will sit by the door if she needs to go. She is pretty good with other dog interactions and her loose leash walking is improving every day, which is great because we would ideally like to have her be a running buddy for both of us. She even knows sit, stay, down and come. Lexie sleeps through the night (for the most part).

The nipping has been a constant battle, though. We have tried EVERYTHING in the book, both positive and negative reinforcement. We leave the room, we ignore her, we yelp, we give her praise when she licks, we tried the water spray and the coke can with coins, and we have tried redirecting her to toys with praise. I would continue one method if she responded to anything in any way, but nothing provokes bite inhibition. In fact, even with the less-aggressive type methods, she still gets worse. For example, if I leave the room and come back, she will grab my feet and not let go no matter what I do.

She is now jumping up on us when we sit down on the couch and lunge at us with her puppy teeth. She is starting to not let go when she nips and can cause some serious pain, and she is worse when she has little energy left for the day. Any insight on what to do? She has had me in tears of frustration several times now.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:11 PM
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Herding dogs can be nippy: how else would they get sheep to move?!

Biting where there is no threat is often a bid for attention, IMO; dogs perform every behavior because it works for something. So assuming that you are not praising her or tossing her a cookie every time she gives you a nip (that would just be crazy), the only meaningful thing left that she is getting out of the action is your attention: and she doesn't need to have it 24/7!

First off, I'd advise against any positive punishment such as the squirt bottle and the shaker. Not only are they bad ideas on the whole but they are clearly worth the trouble for her.

Secondly, labs and collies are incredibly intelligent dogs that need to be mentally 'tuckered out' as well as physically exercised. Next time she is pulling the tired toddler antics, try make her an offer she can't refuse: some quiet, independent, interesting play. Invest in some puzzle-toys like Kongs, Buster-Balls, a Dial-a-Treat, and some tasty chews. You can run a dog like a 'teenage' lab all day and they can still be little terrors-- but there is a point where they will gladly accept the opportunity to lie down, stretch out and occupy themselves by gnawing on something tasty or prizing a cookie out of a Twist-n-Treat. As a bonus, you will get some peace and quiet!

As an extra measure, I would throw in some real mental exercise at some point during the day. Have a 30 minute training session, play hide-the-treat, or explore a park. Sit/down/stay and come are great but labs/collies are breeds that really seem partial to working with you (who am I kidding, that's true of pretty much all dogs). Let her blow you away. With a few sessions, she can easily be onto things like identifying objects (a toy, a chew, a stick) and bringing them to you.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:30 AM
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I initially had a lot of problems with jumping and nipping with my two-year-old rescue dog. With the guidance of several members here, I realized that he nipped the most when he was over-stimulated but exhausted, a bit like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. What helped a great deal was developing a daily routine that balanced periods of exercise, training, and rest. I also learned to redirect his behavior by having him go into a sit position and working on rewording calm behavior. I found this video very helpful:

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Old 02-19-2014, 05:19 AM
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Was that a typo about the age? Is she over a year old, or 14 weeks?

Do you know anything of her history?
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:38 AM
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I meant to say that Lexie is a 14 week old, not a 14 month old.

We are doing 15 minute training sessions about 3 times a day, but it sounds like they need to be longer. We are already doing kongs when we cannot be home with her or when we have too much to do that doesn't involve her. Sounds like she might need a different game to add some variety. She just continues to nip us once she gets bored of the kong which is in about 5 minutes, even if there is still tasty stuff inside.

Any other tips? We are going to try a private training session if I can book one within the next week.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:27 AM
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Try freezing the stuffed Kongs so that your pup will get more minutes of enjoyment out of them.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:33 AM
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Chew toys... tons of them!
Put those teeth to work!

And 14 weeks old, your puppy is only but a "puppy"... Teething period.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:23 PM
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Sounds like she needs a better variety of delicious in the kong- freezing chunky dog food or even layering peanut butter, yogurt and dog food will give her more variety and hopefully hold her interest longer. You can also feed her meals in a wobbler or tug-a-jug, which will hopefully keep her occupied. I also love stuffing marrow bones and freezing them, and giving lots of bully sticks, pressed rawhides and things like that. However, really the best thing for wearing out a dog is teaching an entirely new behavior. One of my dogs gets overstimulated really easily when he is tired from long walks, running, etc, so if I start teaching him something completely new and he has to think, by the time we get half way there and have done 10 or so approximations of the behavior, he is calm and ready for a nap.
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Old 02-19-2014, 02:34 PM
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Stop with the positive punishments, they can have unintended fallout such as a dog that's afraid of noise if you use shaker cans. They also do nothing to teach a puppy what it should be doing.

You need to pick a method and stick with it, consistency is very important. A + B should always = C. Your puppy needs to be able to predict that. Keep in mind that it will likely take a few weeks to fully get her to stop and that in the beginning it won't seem to be working.

Here's what I did with my puppy. Every time he bit me I'd give him a toy and play with him with it, my goal was to teach him that if he wanted to play he needed that toy. Biting + Toy = Me playing with him. If he dropped the toy and tried biting me I'd give him the toy again. If he tried biting me again I'd leave him for around 5 minutes before trying again, that was to teach him that biting me made fun time end. Biting + Me = Him being alone. I did that every time he bit me. It took a few weeks but after he learned he'd automatically get a toy if he wanted to play. Yelping, or yelling ouch, didn't work with him. He seemed to think that I was a big squeaky toy.

Some other things to try, if you know she's had plenty of exercise and is tired, try putting her in her puppy proofed room, crate, or x-pen with a nice chew, she'll likely fall asleep. Remember to move slowly around her, don't purposely get her amped up, your goal is to be very boring. Reward calm behavior, when she's lying quietly give her a treat, when she greets you calmly, give her a treat. Keep petting to a minimum while she's learning, she could be misinterpreting petting as let's play.

Good luck with her! I promise that it does get better and they do outgrow the furry alligator stage.
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Old 02-19-2014, 02:40 PM
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Good advice from the others! I just wanted to add that actually you shouldn't make the sessions longer. If anything, make them shorter and do them more frequently. Better yet, keep her days ration of food on you or in various areas of the house and reward her throughout the day for good behavior everytime you see it.
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