Dog Forum banner

1 - 20 of 52 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys, I guess that I've posted one or two times before to ask about puppy bites, but this time I wanted to be more specific, since this situation is starting to be too stressful.

Our 5 months old puppy has issues with biting too roughly when we play, but this isn't the main issue. The main issue is that sometimes when he suddenly gets all snappy or when we try to stop him going after certain things, he doesn't obey the "no" command. When he just play bites too roughly, we do "ouch!" and distance ourselves and turn our backs to him and it can stop a bit, but in other situations he doesn't take "no", and it would escalate and that becomes frustration bites, and he doesn't back off even when we try to distance ourselves. He would go for our legs, or jump to get our arms.

When it's just play bites, distancing ourselves is a good way as he would associate biting too rough with no more fun, but when it's about commanding "no", I don't think that it's a good way to distance ourselves since he would just learn that it's ok to not listen and biting is the way to shove humans away and get what he wants (not to mention that he would get what he wants).

So we've tried to time him out with a leash stuck on the room door, but then he just thought of it as another chew toy! We don't have any ideal time out place at home, since bedroom and kitchen are used for when we leave him alone so it can't be used as punishment, and bathroom tub door can't stop him from going inside and getting stuffs.

Actually, this might be very due to lack of exercise, since he can't have daily walks yet until he has all the vaccines. But for that we will still have to wait for 6 weeks, and this is already driving everyone crazy!

Do you guys have any suggestions on to deal with this situation? Basically, we want him to learn that we won't tolerate him not obeying "no" and that he must stop getting all snappy when we don't allow him to do something.

I feel like going crazy, as we have to deal with this everyday and it's so stressful... Also, I've been researching a lot by myself to see how to deal with this, since my bf don't seem to understand dogs at all and he just thinks that they are fluffy friends that wants love and doesn't seem to realise the danger of this situation continuing. If we allow him to not listen to "no", then when he goes into puberty he might get more aggressive... I can tell that sometimes when it escalates, a bit of aggressiveness is there (i.e. how the mouth opens and snaps, the growls that are not the same way of play growl). My arms and hands has many scars already (there are some few red wounds - I'm a woman and scars doesn't look good on me!), and I'm frustrated since it's me alone that deals with this almost all the time. My bf thinks that we should just do like how we do with rough play bites, that is to distance ourselves and ignore him, but then if we do it when we command "no" and he gets snappy, then he will just get the object he wants to destroy and learn that biting is the way to make humans back off and not impeding him from getting whatever he wants (which is rewarding aggressiveness unintentionally). He doesn't seem to understand the difference between rough bites and frustration bites.
But well... I don't think that aversive is a good way, since it also escalates, but there must be some other way similar to time out that makes he realise that he has to obey, right?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Ah! I know what this is like! Many puppies go through this stage.

As you are noticing, telling him "no" simply gets him more wound up and animated, and even more bitey.

Three suggestions
1) as you say, more exercise will help

2) Teach him an alternative command such as "sit!" Teach him this while he is calm, using treats and in a very happy manner. Rehearse this relentlessly at all times, reinforcing with treats. Soon enough it will become such a pleasant thing for him to do, that you can ask for a "sit" even when he is being naughty, and that is the response you will get.

Its really important that you always ask for the "sit" in a happy, relaxed voice. If you start to use it in the same tone of voice as the "no" then you will get the same response from him you have been getting.

3) Be SUPER calm around him. Don't get him all wound up in play. Keep your hands, feet, body, and voice very calm. The more excited he gets, the slower you must move. This should really be the number one suggestion, because puppies largely follow our lead in terms of "vibe" we are projecting. If you are all excited and get him animated in play, then he starts to get too bitey, then you shout at him to stop being so naughty, from his perspective, you are just playing roughly with him, so he gets more rough. Do you see what I mean? ;)

Learn to move like molasses in winter. :)

Oh, one more suggestion.... as always, shove a toy in his mouth. Never, never, ever, wrestle with him using your hands as play objects. But you probably knew that one?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
BTW, my "puppy raising uniform" is heavy carrhart pants and long sleeved shirts. It saves the skin, and allows me to remain calm if puppy is spazzing out biting. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
One other note. Do you live in an area riddled with Parvo and distemper? If not, you might get a bit less paranoid about the vaccine issue. There is starting to be general agreement in the veterinary community that we do more harm than good by totally isolating puppies until their vaccines are complete. The problem is you miss the socializing window.

Puppies really need to play with other puppies when they are young, or you end up with a dog who has no social skills with other dogs. And or your dog has not met enough people and becomes people aggressive. Many dogs are put down for behavioral issues due to lack of exposure to social situations as puppies.

Now I would never recommend you take the pup to the dog park, nor should you have him meet random dogs on the street. However, if you can get into a puppy class (where play is allowed, and it is a gentle class based on Positive Reinforcement) or even better find a friend with a puppy and have "play dates" at your house or theirs, that is ideal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,832 Posts
Can I ask what you're telling him "no" for? I'm wondering if he may be RGing
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
BTW, my "puppy raising uniform" is heavy carrhart pants and long sleeved shirts. It saves the skin, and allows me to remain calm if puppy is spazzing out biting. ;)
Great advice from Tess, as always.. and I almost spit my coffee at the screen on this one.. LOL LOVE that 'uniform' :p hahhaa
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Hi Tess, thanks for the suggestions! I tell him to sit at those moments, but he sits coz he thinks that I would give him the item he wants, and then he would still try to go after it if I don't do give him. He does listen to the "no" command most of the time, but sometimes he just doesn't listen and even starts frustration bite if we don't allow him to get something. He also wouldn't listen to "no" or "sit" when he suddenly becomes really snappy, and doesn't back away no matter if we stay still, turn our backs on him or walk away (like when we are on our bed). Also, we try to redirect him to his favourite toys/chew bone, but it might not work whenever he goes into these modes. :( He would chew the toy/bone when I tease him enough, but then he sometimes would just not give up on the fixated item. I just want him to learn that "no" means "no", but due to all this unburned energy, he just gets frustrated and doesn't listen any more.

As I insist on not letting him have his way, it's a big a patience test for me! I'm training myself to remain calm and firm, not yelling or getting angry so that I focus on a way to make him understand what I want rather than going mad.

But well, we do have training sessions for 5~10mins each time through positive reinforcement, and he is happy listen to us in those moments. :) I think that training is very important for a dog to learn how to listen, and it's also very important for bonding.
Also, before getting his food or going out through a door, I make him sit/wait so that he can be good mannered.

About the puppy training uniform, can you post a pic? I've never heard about it, but it might be interesting. When he bites us and doesn't release, we open his mouth slowly instead of pulling (but he does pull sometimes). His teeth also gets caught on the clothes.

About parvo in our area, our local vet said that there are a few parvo cases around, but I guess that our pup is immune to it for now, since he recovered from parvo when he was 2 months, and then he also took parvo vaccine last weekend. But I'm afraid that his immune system is still weak, and that with his weak digestive system and body growth needing to recover, he might be more vulnerable to diseases. Last weekend, when we took him to the vet and had him walk a bit outside (since he's too heavy to carry now), he went home with low energy and he was a great pup! I can't wait to be able to take him out everyday so that everyone can live happily together.

Cali, what is RGing? We tell "no" for him to stop going after something or to stop doing something. He listens most of the times, but he also doesn't listen when he's in those moments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
I think Cali is correct (she's so perceptive!) that part of what you are dealing with is Resource Guarding. Go read this sticky. It is super helpful. Basically RGing is a reflex, and you've got to go about dealing with it completely opposite to what you are thinking right now! Its not about showing him who's boss, or who owns stuff, or taking his stuff away. Anyway, go read the sticky. I had some RG issues with one of my dogs and it is largely "cured" as a result of learning from the great folks here

I'm kinda kidding about the "uniform"... I mean its a bit of a joke. Carrharts are heavy duty "lumberjack pants" that I wear a lot of the time anyway, and they are very handy to have on with puppies as puppies are so bitey and scratchy. Skirts, pantyhose and cute little short sleaved blouses don't exist in my world, as I have kittens and dogs! ;)

And my husband and I are regularly getting mauled by our critters. Here, I'm wearing Carrharts here, although its hard to see.

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Tessa737#p/u/6/k0zKL2zA0zQ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Hmm it doesn't seem resource guarding, coz he was going after things he finds out and is curious about, and before he can get it I don't allow him to, and his frustration builds from this (me getting in his way of getting something). He never had any RGuarding issues, never got aggressive when we handle/take away his stuffs or food. I can even take stuffs away from his mouth (like small pieces of a rawhide bone he's about to swallow), and he often chew stuffs right next to us while we can pet him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Well, I'd keep observing him then. I still think much of what you described in post 7 is RG type behavior. It can manifest in a variety of ways.

If its not resource guarding, its an overly excited puppy, so all that advice in post #2 would apply.

In any case, I would try to avoid creating these situations where he gets all frustrated. Rather than race him to the object he wants, and get there first, teach him how to give you objects, as the RG sticky describes. Then you can remain calm when puppy is running to some contraband, and have him trade it for a treat. You need to practice this a lot with objects you can give back to him, such as his toys, so that once in a while, when he has something truly harmful to himself, it will be a matter of routine.

Does that make sense?

Overall, its better to always be very calm around the puppy. In the long run you need a better strategy than trying to be faster than the puppy, as he will quickly learn to out pace you! ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Yeah I guess that it's really due to him being over excited, since he's more obedient and less curious when he's tired. Often I don't really race with him to see who gets there first, sometimes he can suddenly have a fixation on some object next to us (pillows or computer cables), or on some object on a bookshelf or table, or even our feet. We try to keep every room as puppy safe as possible, since often stressing with "no" would get anyone frustrated, but he still gets fixated on certain stuffs sometimes. Maybe exercising is really the only solution. :(

On the other hand, I'm considering to crate train him now (feeding inside it, fluffy bed plus toys and kibbles and praises), so that if he gets too excited/fixated/frustrated, he could have short time outs there. I'm reading a lot of online advices about it, and some says that they use it for short time outs (more like cooling down than punishment), some doesn't agree since a dog should feel positive about it. But maybe if the crate is mostly positive and just used for few time outs (in a neutral not angry way to tell him that he has to behave) then it can work well? That way it can make it easier for him to understand that he has to listen to "no", and we don't need to confront him in any ways and he will eventually calm down (and my arms won't have so much scar lol).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Fixation = RG. :)

"No" is not the solution. ;)


Sorry, I'm in a meeting, can't elaborate!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
894 Posts
No doesn't work for us. He knew the command when we got him, but it was clear early on that it was ineffective.

They need to know what to do instead of what they shouldn't be doing. So 'drop' or 'give' instead of 'no' when they're chewing something of mine - I try to have treats on me so I can do a simple swap which reduces anxiety. He always prefers a piece of chicken to anything in his mouth - find your dog's high value treat and use it.

Try doing building attention exercises when he's in a calm mood. They're really helping us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
No doesn't work for us. He knew the command when we got him, but it was clear early on that it was ineffective.

They need to know what to do instead of what they shouldn't be doing. So 'drop' or 'give' instead of 'no' when they're chewing something of mine - I try to have treats on me so I can do a simple swap which reduces anxiety. He always prefers a piece of chicken to anything in his mouth - find your dog's high value treat and use it.

Try doing building attention exercises when he's in a calm mood. They're really helping us.

Exactly! "No" especially for an insecure dog or a RGing dog, is just going to make his underlying emotional state more problematic.

One thing I notice, as I've learned more and more effective ways to train and manage my dogs, is that "No" has completely disappeared from my vocabulary. Instead I call them too me, or give them an alternative cue to do something good. It really works!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,625 Posts
Assuming its not resource guarding, and I'll agree it doesn't really sound like it to me, and saying "no" and removing yourself from the situation doesn't help, you may need to take additional steps. Crating (after being properly crate trained!) shouldn't be used as an outright punishment unless there is no other choice (ie: you HAVE to remove the dog from the situation to get the situation under control), so if you can catch on to him ABOUT to get overly excited (but before he actually starts biting) it might help, but if you use the crate as punishment it can sometimes completely undo the crate training itself. We DO use our crate for time outs as well as standard crating, but timing counts, if he's slipped over to "bad" behavior from merely "overly excited" it becomes punishment. We made that mistake once, we then had to take several steps backwards in crate training.

We had a similer problem with our pup, our puppy trainer suggested a couple specific techniques to cope. I'm not going to try to explain them because with my luck you'd understand the instructions wrong and I don't want to hurt your pup. My suggestion: find a local trainer who uses a "balanced" technique (if their resume/webpage says they "never use those evil choke/electronic/prong collars" they're not balanced, but neither is a trainer who REQUIRES the use of a prong collar) and see if you can join either a puppy class, or a basic obedience class, and specifically explain to the instructor the problems you're having. They may be able suggestion alternative techniques to handle the biting problem. Plus the experience with the other dogs around will do your pup good.

I also agree that carefully supervised walks, and socialization with preapproved (healthy, vaccinated) dogs is totally worth the extra work with a pup who's still undergoing vaccinations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Hmm my pup's case doesn't seem to fit the RG situation, since RG, at least of what I can understand, is about guarding the resources he has gotten, but this has more to do with wanting to check on stuffs around. Also, he has no problems about letting me take anything away.

Maybe the effectiveness of the "no" command depends on how it is used, as well as the owner/dog combination. For example, an owner commanding "no" calmly and then praising a dog and redirect him to appropriate chew toys after it's really different from an owner that only shouts "no" angrily at a dog.
But on the other hand, there are many other ways to deal with a certain situation that it's up to the owner to find a good way that suits him/her and his/her dog. I find it important that a dog should be able to listen to "no", but then I agree that when it comes to dogs that are too insecure or aggressive, it's better to deal with the situation with another ways.


By the way, just an update of the situation... Today after playing with his toys madly, he decided to get bored of them again and do some exploration around the room where we were in again. He listened to the few "no" at first, but then after a while, when redirection doesn't seem to work anymore, he starts not to listen again. So I've insisted calmly with the "no", and then he tried to bite me away again. But this time I've tried a different approach - the moment he started biting, I've said "bad" firmly and calmly (same tone of voice of when saying "no") and repeated it while taking him to our bed room for time out.
I didn't want to use our room, which is the safest puppy proof place for time out, coz he already hesitates to get in it since it's the place we leave him in sometimes when we need to go out for a few hours or do something while not able to supervise him. So if it becomes a time out place too, then he would hesitate to be inside the room even more. But since there's no other way, we had to do this.
So at the beginning, he would bark a bit, but he would soon stop (he actually knows that barking doesn't help much since we usually ignore him when he does, and only come back for him when he's calm), and after around 2~5mins, I've opened the door and let him out with sit/stay on command. When I do this, I do it positively but calmly, so that he feels my joy yet doesn't get excited. Then he returned to the room where everyone is again.
I had to repeat it for a few times, every time when he starts to bite. If he doesn't bite, I'd just insist 'till he obeys while putting his paws away slowly sometimes, and then praise him, redirect him to his toys and praise him a lot more to encourage him to keep his attention to the toys. And to my joy, it's actually working! :) He starts to hesitate biting me now whenever he is released again. I'm feeling more hopeful now, and I hope that this will continue working! I just don't know what to do if he suddenly goes to that mode in the bedroom thought, since this is the only room that can be used as time out (he goes to the kitchen during work days so we prefer it to be a positive place instead). But well, in any ways, I'm happy if this really works since there are no more escalation of bites and he can learn that rebellion bites are bad and takes away his freedom and being with his pack. :)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,625 Posts
to help negate the "negative" of the time out room, maybe consider taking the time to give him treats, or play with him in there (obviously only when he's behaving well and under control), but I'm glad to hear that it looks like its working!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Today after playing with his toys madly, he decided to get bored of them again and do some exploration around the room where we were in again. He listened to the few "no" at first, but then after a while, when redirection doesn't seem to work anymore, he starts not to listen again. So I've insisted calmly with the "no", and then he tried to bite me away again. But this time I've tried a different approach - the moment he started biting, I've said "bad" firmly and calmly (same tone of voice of when saying "no") and repeated it while taking him to our bed room for time out.
I really have to say that I think you are not on the right track here.

The fact the puppy is biting you in the first place means either that he is...
1) over excited
or
2) is feeling aggressive-defensive.

In either case overpowering him with force (from his perspective) and doing all these punishments (and indeed that's how it feels to him) is going to lead you to trouble in the long run.

Where you think what you are doing is "working" you are likely just getting a very shutdown puppy. Read this link.

I truly fear that your methods will result in an aggressive adult dog. Which I know is the exact opposite of your goal.

PUNISHING puppies is a very bad idea. It creates FEAR for them, and DISTRUST. Later as adults they will BITE you for real! Remember, you are a gigantic elephant to them. Picking up a puppy and telling him "NO!" and "BAD!" is extremely frightening to them.

MANAGEMENT is the way to go.
A better tactic in the case you described would have been to gently put puppy down for a nap once he was unable to be re-directed. That is simply a sign of a tired puppy. Puppies have very little ability to self control (you are expecting too much of him) and that very little bit of self control evaporates when they are tired.

I don't know what else to say to try to convince you to utterly turn upside down your basic philosophy of how to deal with this little guy. I am very worried for you and this pup in the next year, as things are going right now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Hmm Tess maybe we share different ideas about this, but I don't think that my methods would cause shut down or aggressiveness in my dog. I pick him up calmly, and while I agree that some dogs are easier to feel scared even with a calm "no", this is not my dog's case (he's very confident :) ). Also, time out method is not an aggressive punishment, it's taking away something he wants (his freedom and interaction with the pack) when a certain behaviour needs to be corrected. Even Victoria Stilwell uses this (in fact, I've learned from her episodes), and she also uses remarks like "no" or "ack ack". Also, dog moms also often correct their pups calmly yet firmly, in order to teach them boundaries. It's important for dogs to learn to respect boundaries, and besides of teaching what we want them to do (positive reinforcement), we also have to teach them what they shouldn't do (taking away good stuffs if they don't respect certain boundaries), and that's a more balanced way of educating dogs. The key is to always set a dog for success (minimise the chances of temptations), interact with our dogs positively a lot to create bond, and then have a balanced correction for him to learn to respect the boundaries.

But well, although we share different philosophies on this, I'm still glad that we can share knowledge and learn more from each other. :) I guess that in online forums, we will always find people who share different opinions, but what's important is to learn from different points of views and then incorporate the ideas we feel that can help us.

ruthcatrin, thanks for sharing your case! :) I think that after hearing your case, I won't use the crate for time out. Although I'm considering now if crate training can be good for my pup, so that he can get used to it for future needs (vet, travelling). Actually, the crate training is relatively news to me, but I will train my pup to like it without using it to restrict his freedom.

I will try to do the positive reinforcement trainings and play times inside the bedroom. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Well, I certainly do wish you the best, and hope you are right about all this. Without actually seeing what you are doing, I'm just depending on your descriptions, so I may or may not be reading the situation correctly.

In general, management for puppies is a better emphasis then thinking you have to correct them for their bad behavior.

Again it concerns me that he is "biting". Hopefully all that is happening is a normal level of what I call "puppy mouthing", but that is not really what you are describing.

If in the long run, you run into problems, of course you are welcome to come back here and get help! ;)
 
1 - 20 of 52 Posts
Top