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Hello there, I recently purchased my first dog, a Catahoula Leopard pup named Muna. Catahoulas are purebred and said to be some of the dogs closest in lineage to the gray wolf. They were bred to be pig herders in Louisiana some time ago.

Muna is a sweet girl, albeit very shy around new people at first. I've had her for almost a week and I have been crate training/housebreaking her so I am pretty exhausted for lack of sleep.

My main issue is this- I am anxious to play with her because she nips and bites at everything when we play, including me! I know this is a natural dog behavior and that she's just trying to explore with her nose and mouth. That said, it's making it very difficult for me to bond with her. Without the play interaction I feel like all im doing is feeding her/taking her out to potty/ and crate training her which essentially means ignoring her when she whines & barks and acting non-chalant when I walk int the room so as not to make my entrance a big deal.

Luckily I work from home for now, so I'm with her all day. Most of the day I sit at my computer and she sits across from me in a gated area in the kitchen which includes her crate. I take her out every 2-3 hrs to eliminate, and always right after meals and before crating. At night I bring the same crate into my room and she goes to sleep there.

Personally, I feel 'stuck' though. I know this is just my first week and I keep trying to remind myself that it will get easier with time. I suspect part of my feeling trapped in my house is that I can't take her out walking yet, or to dog parks. I also can't leave the house without her whining and barking yet. Although I have been going outside in short bursts, like taking out the trash in hopes that she will get used to me coming and going.

Does anyone have any suggestions for games to play that don't involve biting or how should I redirect biting? She hasn't been getting much play other than playing with toys/bullystick in the crate, exploring my front lawn for a few minutes, and some light play time with me for 20 minutes a day or less sometimes because of the biting thing. I'd say she's in the crate or her designated kitchen area most of the day though. I noticed she does sleep quite a bit, but when she's not sleeping she seems to have a high energy level.

Mostly, Im just not sure what I should be doing with her all day. I want to show her more affectiona and positive attention, but right now she tends to bite/nip when we play so thats been hard.

So I guess I'm asking, Is this all normal puppy behavior, can I be doing any other play or basic training activities with her, how can I get over this nipping thing and trust her to play with me safely? Will this get easier with time?
 

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Normal! We all feel like this. For the biting, try a knotted old sock or similar to redirect the biting, and feeding the daily ration in toys and games to keep her occupied.
I hated the first part when Raffles arrived and I couldn't take him out, but it will be better before you know it!
Lots of people suggest a yelp when the puppy bites, but I would suggest a lower ooow and hold up your sore paw - works for me. Calmness in the owner works wonders.
Though I don't see how old she is, I don't think it's ever young to start on the 'leave it' with having a treat in your closed hand and they don't get it unless they stop biting, but you have to have hands of iron or welder's gloves!
 

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Hello fellow Catahoula owner. Super glad to have you on the forum. Catahoulas can be pretty hard-mouthed dogs. Mine was an absolute landshark as a puppy and it wouldn't surprise me if you were experiencing some above-average mouthing. Here's what I did to help:

- The usual "ouch!" and remove all attention tactic.

- Play with other dogs.

- A very solid "leave it" cue.

- Re-direction to a flirt pole toy (like this: Amazon.com : Puppy prey drive building flirt pole tug toy Redline K9 : RedLine K9 : Pet Supplies )- something he could give serious, serious chase to that was far away from my clothes and fingers. This allowed him to exercise that chase-bite-hold response much more fully than his tugs did.

- Only train after periods of play with tugs or the flirt pole.

- Sheer age will also help.

The flirt pole is really what I credit with having made him tolerable. He's still a bitey dog, but he has learned much better inhibition and rarely bites too hard while playing anymore.

Basically, make sure the puppy is getting a lot of opportunity to exercise that modified prey drive very vigorously before expecting her to focus.

Re: games to play that don't involve biting, try scent games! Most Catahoulas are quite nose-driven and have heaps of talent in that area.

As an aside, the wolf theory has never been supported with DNA evidence and likely never will be. It's very plausible that Catahoulas have something akin to native "village dogs" in their background, but wolf? Nah. I can understand the confusion, though - even some of the most well-respected Catahoula afficionados (like Don Abney) are still peddling that tall tale.
 

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Try and emulate a dog way of being sad.
I let my puppy nibble me, but if she bites too hard, I say owwww in a sad voice and go curl up in the corner ignoring her for a while.
When our trainer first came to our house, she bought a frozen marrow bone with us and gave us some very sound advice, which was, keep her mouth busy as much as you can, chewing toys, bones, bully sticks, just find things she likes to chew and keep her chewing them, if she gets bored of something, take it away for a while and give her something else.
Also maybe you could try games like fetch that usually involve less roughness.
 

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I got my terrier mix as a puppy and he had a very hard bite, coupled with needle sharp puppy teeth I didn't want his mouth on me.

What I did was always have a toy nearby and whenever he bit me I'd redirect him to the toy and made sure to play with him with it. If he dropped the toy and bit me again I'd give him the toy and try playing with him again. If he again dropped it I'd get up and get out of his reach, play time was over for awhile before I tried again. I did that every time he bit me.

I didn't yelp, or say ow. My pup seemed to delight in making the human emit sounds. The only thing I did was ask, in a happy voice, "Where's *name the toy*?" before giving it to him.

Doing that I taught him that the only way to play with me was to have a toy in his mouth, and that biting me meant the end of the fun and the end of access to me. It took a few weeks for him to learn but once he did he ALWAYS got a toy if he wanted to play with me.
 

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I'd suggest a Kindle book titled Puppy Start Right by Dr. Kenneth Martin. You can read it on your computer if you don't have a Kindle ap on a phone or tablet.

It addresses the biting, appropriate play, and tells of the importance of specific types of socialization at specific ages of the dog. It also covers many other common issues, not just with puppies.

For the biting I've found that 2-3 seconds of freezing in place and turning my head completely away from the dog (ignoring it completely) while crossing my arms (preventing further biting) has been pretty effective. She still sometimes forgets and mouths my hand, but it's very light now, and I can turn my head away and she will stop right away. When she was younger I would also shove a toy in her mouth as soon as she let go of my hand and shake it around and play with her with it. I think this might have reinforced the biting at first though (hey i bite her hand, she plays tug with me!) so I stopped immediately putting the toy into play until the 2-3 seconds of time out were over.
 

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Work on a solid leave it cue and try to use that whenever she goes for you. It worked well for Merlin when he was younger. When I was participating in puppy classes at Petco, the trainer had us work on the "touch" cue. The cue essentially helps teach young puppies that they can touch with just their nose and that they will be rewarded for just using their nose.

With Merlin, I had a difficult time using anything other than ignoring him, because Merlin saw any kind of reaction as reinforcing for the biting. I ended up simply removing myself from the situation and ignoring him a lot as a kind of punishment for biting too hard.

Merlin learned better bite inhibition after he was able to play with other dogs at the daycare I take him to.

Now, of course, he very rarely tries to bite me these days anyway, and age has a huge impact on that. When puppies are teething, it can be absolutely awful, but after they hit a year, things really do get better!
 

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I'd recommend that you not wait until you have a reliable leave it queue to work on the nipping. Leave it, in my experience, takes longer to teach than some other commands. Finding a high-enough value treat that works for all things while you generalize is important. If the dog values what he has more than your treat, he isn't going to want to leave it while learning. He's going to want to keep it! Humans are pretty darn appealing for gnawing on, so it may be easier to teach leave it with other objects for quite a while, generalizing as you go.

Ignoring them and leaving them lonely for a min or two works wonders to teach them not to nip, without having to have a leave it on command down pat.
 
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