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First time owner puppy biting

1125 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  sullyrules
Hello everyone! I have a new puppy that is a bull/Shepherd/rott mix. He's only seven weeks old and has been with us for a week and a half. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle biting?

Specifically, he wants to get on the couch with my wife. When she lets him on, he likes to dig and start nipping at the cushions. Which gets him excited and he starts to nip at her.

I've been thinking of teaching him "leave it" and see if that might discourage him from going after our hands/arms.

Appreciate any thoughts and advice. We are first time dog owners and are trying to absorb as much advice as possible
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Well first off, he is too young to be aware from his mother. A puppy needs to stay with his mother and litter until at least 8 weeks, longer for small breeds. Until 8+ weeks he does not have the socialization skills that he needs. Those skills and time is crucial.

You need to redirect him to chew toys. It's important that you teach him what he CAN bite and chew.
Agreed. The pup was taken much too young. People think- it's eyes are open, it can walk, and eat solid food, so time to send the pups off to their new homes. This is wrong. Those last couple weeks are when the puppies are learning important doggie social skills from their mama and littermates. One of the key things they learn is bite inhibition.

However, done is done. So now YOU must teach the pup things like bite inhibition, etc. One way to do so is to mimic the reaction a littermate would make if your pup bit the littermate hard. The littermate would make a high pitched "Yelp!" The puppy hears this and realizes that it hurt its littermate and the fun playtime ended. You can make this noise when your pup bites your hands to convey the idea that biting hurts and when puppy bites playtime is over.
I agree - poor guy missed out on some valuable lessons from his littermates and mom. But too late for that now.

I always redirect to a toy. I personally have found for puppies that are really riled up, yelping can get them even crazier (certainly was the way with my BC). I usually give a toy, if he bites again try again with the toy, and if he bites again, remove yourself for a few minutes.
I have also found yelping to send my already over excited puppies into even more of a frenzy, in raising 3 puppies I've only had it work for my first dog who rarely got super riled up and calmed down easier and it worked the least for the dog that came to me with no bite inhibiton (because of poor socialization due to illness in her first 8 months). My theory is that that method might work best for dogs who have already learned that kind of reaction from siblings, which this one will not have, and already have a steady excitement level, which this one also probably does not.

My first course of action is always to redirect with a toy. My command is usually "eh, eh, eh, No Bite" for nipping and "eh, eh, eh, No Chew" for chewing. The "eh, eh, eh" noise has worked well for me to snap the pup's attention back to me and usually is a noise that makes a puppy pause and puzzle about the what and the why of the noise.

If this has not been working after a week and the puppy has started breaking skin/leaving bruises/destroying things I usually revert to using a bad tasting spray as an aversive. The spray I use is called "Bitter Apple" (the original one with the green and yellow label). Unscrew the top and give them a little swipe across the mouth with the little straw thing and they get the idea pretty quick. Pair this with heavy praise for stopping the behavior as well as food rewards for behaving correctly. Again, I use this spray only as a last resort when redirection doesn't work and I would give it a minimum of a week or preferably 2 weeks before resorting to it. My reasoning for using it as a last resort is that I really would prefer the puppy puzzle through things, especially at this young age- I want them to think "she's telling me something- she's telling me she's unhappy- what am I doing that she doesn't like?- oh hey I think it's this biting thing, maybe if I try to do it softer- ok she doesn't mind if I nip like this but she does mind like this." I also tend to enjoy rough play and throwing my puppies around a bit (so long as they like it too, which not all do) so I don't actually mind light play nipping if the dog can learn to handle it (which not all dogs can), so I want to find a way to teach moderation vs extinguishing a natural behavior all together.
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I concur with what has been said already, but I will add that there could be a legit reason for a puppy being adopted at 7 weeks.

That said, from my experience, a rope toy is your best friend. It teaches the puppy what is acceptable to nip and bite, and it can double as a tool to teach a leave it command. 2 birds 1 stone :)
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