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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi!
On week two with our 13 week old AmStaff/Boxer/Terrier mix and looking for a little help. As a background- we got her from a shelter where she, mom, and litter mates were and were told she rated "borderline" because she was fearless, was amped up by human contact, and lacked bite inhibition. The puppies in her litter had to be separated because they played too hard and mama didn't correct them and they were injuring each other. We were told we would never be able to play tug of war with her or ever let her off leash.

For the last 9 days, we have been doing well- ignoring her when she bites, stopping play when she bites, learning the precursors to biting and working to prevent escalation to biting etc. However, whenever we try to get her interested in toys or games, all she is interested in are HANDS. Try presenting a chew toy, she goes for the hands. Try presenting a squeaky toy, she goes for the hands. We got her to stop biting hands with toys sometimes, but it means she never really wants to play with toys or do games with us. She's a smart and stubborn little girl. She's an angel when she's sleepy- a little snuggler who just curls up with you.

Last night, things escalated. We went to training session 1 of our puppy classes where the lady taught us to grab her collar with our thumbs and place our hands out of reach on her head when she gets bitey. Once she calmed down, we were supposed to reassure her with calm pats. Well, that backfired HORRIBLY. She reacted very very badly to the holding technique, wouldn't calm down and regressed. We spent 2 hours last night, with an aggressive, bitey dog who was clearly acting out of fear. We got her calm enough to go to bed and know we have to now repair her trust in us.

Now, every once in a while, she acts up and bites horribly. This morning, after our walk, she just attacked my hands, legs, kneecaps, and ankles without any warning signs. Shes' escalated to the point where if she can't get your hands, she goes for the kneecaps (OUCH!!!) and the ankles. It's hard to ignore a dog when she's got her mouth around your ankle or knee cap and is biting HARD. It is a struggle to be able to get her to her calm place where we can work on reinforcing (positively!) when she is calm.

HELP! I would love suggestions and tips on both how to repair her trust and perhaps how to get her interested in toys and playing games rather than eating my hands!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh gosh. I feel like I should add that we DO have some positive interactions with hands. We occasionally hand feed her and she takes treats from between two fingers gently.
It honestly seems like half the biting is because she's MAD (or tired) and acts out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I agree that the trainer was wrong in that instance. I think I need to be a crazy puppy mommy and send her the whole doggy bio that we got from the shelter.I really like the video (and others by kikopup), so thank you for the link! The trainer did get us started on clicker training and I think that will really help to work on making her friendly with hands.

My understanding is the dogs were split into smaller puppy groups and not completely isolated at the shelter. I'm unsure at what age this happened but it was definitely before 8 weeks.

And the off-leash comment was more specifically that we would never be able to let her off leash in an off-leash area in her entire lifetime. But so far, she loves seeing other dogs and we are going to work very hard to socialize her properly with all types of dogs and humans and things. I don't agree with this "never" talk, but this pup will have to earn our trust (and we will have to earn hers).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I do my best to ignore the labels, but sometimes she really does live up to them!

She's not really a treat or toy oriented dog. Her favourite things are attention and lots of it. We have started using her meals as treats (basically no food from the bowl, she earns it all) until she is food-motivated as suggested by our trainer.

She doesn't enjoy playing with kongs or toys. She may nudge a treat or two out of a kong, but only if the human is also interested and in the room.

I have noticed she is snappy when tired and it is one of the signs we always look for and encourage her to go to her quiet spot (or put her there).

Thanks for all of the suggestions Red. I suppose you can clicker train your dog to like toys?

Thank you all for your suggestions (and keep em coming). It's nice to hear positive things from people, especially when she's being particularly snappish.
 
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