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Hi all,

We have a 10 week old goldendoodle puppy who has a VERY dominant personality. We've been struggling with the puppy phase of biting hands and clothes, but with Ruby, when you say "no" or attempt to correct her in anyway, she comes back for more and bites harder. We brought her to the vet for her second set of shots and the vet noticed right away how dominant she was. She gave us some pointers for what to do when she gets really mouthy and some compression holds and how to essentially make it known that we are the alphas and not her. The vet said that when she continues to bite despite corrections it's because she is testing us and pushing the boundaries to see how far we will let her go. I'm just wondering if anyone else has dealt with a dominant puppy and if it does get better. Really just looking for reassurance that all the hard work we're putting in will be worth it in the end.

p.s. I'm 4 months pregnant so this dominant behavior makes me very nervous especially since a new baby will be coming into the picture soon.

Thanks!
 

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While I don't dismiss the dominance thing out of hand, I'm not quite sure one can say that in this case. First, in my experience, dominance relates more to how dogs interact with one another and rarely if ever becomes a dog-on-human thing. By virtue of the fact that you control the food, water, and shelter, you are "dominant" over your pooch. Next...

Additionally, biting and nipping are common behavior for pups, and perhaps saying "no" at this point isn't quite getting the point across. I recently adopted a 4 (then) month old pup, and she was quite mouthy (which is normal). I've gradually (it takes time!) taught her not to gnaw on me in three ways:

1) Have a chew toy in hand to give her an alternative for her chewing drive. Get a tug toy, too, and play with that to substitute for her going at clothes or furniture, etc. Have a good ol' romp of a time, and soon she'll realize that's way more fun than going at you.
2) Withdraw hands and stop moving the instant she starts to gnaw: the idea here is that she wants to play; you stop playing, and eventually (after a few tries) she makes the connection that gnawing/chewing isn't how she's going to get what she wants (incidentally, for some dogs, going hands-on and saying "no" reinforces the play drive -- not necessarily "dominant" behavior).
3) Reward through praise or treat when she licks your hand instead of gnawing on it. Develop also a routine of calming: when she stops gnawing, stroke her saying something like "gentle" in a soft voice to show her this is the behavior you appreciate and that gets her love and attention.

Others recommend yelping ("Ouch!" "Ow!" "Yip!) when she gnaws on you, but in my experience with my current Pup, that just says "Come harder" (same as you're experiencing with "no" -- this time around [on my 3rd pooch] I'm finding that a "sshh!" sound is more effective than "no", BTW).

The thing I encourage you the most to do is: do not overreact. For most dogs, this is a phase. "This too will come to pass..." I know it's disconcerting when you feel teeth on your skin, but if you notice, she's not clamping down, but just gnawing on you (if she's clamping down, enough to puncture, you do have a bigger issue). Treat it as a no-big-deal slip, provide her an acceptable alternative outlet, and be consistent. She must learn that all fun stops when she gets mouthy--if she wants your attention, she has to do it another way. That's the main point you want to communicate through your actions and body language.
 
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Good news is... through patience and hard work, your puppy outta be out of the teething/mouthing phase by the time your baby is born. Most puppies, not all, but most puppies grow out of the mouthing/teething by 6 months old. Tank was pretty much done at about 5-6 months old. We were just real consistent about redirecting him to his toys.

Also word of advice, start working with socializing her with infants now. The sooner you get her use to being around small children and babies, the better. A new, squalling baby in the house can be real stressful for dogs, so exposing her to young children and babies will be good for her and will make your life a heck of a lot easier.
 

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First of all, stop using the word no. It tends to become associated with negative rather than a positive response to something.

Puppy pees or poops on the floor. NO!
Puppy chews on something it's not supposed to. NO!
Puppy bites hands or feet. NO!
Puppy chases after something in the back yard. NO!
Puppy is hyper. NO!
The list is endless. Kids understand the word no, it's not something a dog is going to associate anything with other than negative, especially when it's used in every tone of voice from baby babble to sheer panic.

What are you trying to associate the word NO with?

It's a stage they will grow out of, faster if you assist them. Puppies tend to mouth many things. Remove your hand and allow the pup to calm down. Biting tends to come when puppies are excited or amped up. Many people think it's cute now, but if you don't terminate the behavior, a year down the road it won't be so cute.
 

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Hi all,

We have a 10 week old goldendoodle puppy who has a VERY dominant personality. We've been struggling with the puppy phase of biting hands and clothes, but with Ruby, when you say "no" or attempt to correct her in anyway, she comes back for more and bites harder. We brought her to the vet for her second set of shots and the vet noticed right away how dominant she was. She gave us some pointers for what to do when she gets really mouthy and some compression holds and how to essentially make it known that we are the alphas and not her. The vet said that when she continues to bite despite corrections it's because she is testing us and pushing the boundaries to see how far we will let her go. I'm just wondering if anyone else has dealt with a dominant puppy and if it does get better. Really just looking for reassurance that all the hard work we're putting in will be worth it in the end.

p.s. I'm 4 months pregnant so this dominant behavior makes me very nervous especially since a new baby will be coming into the picture soon.

Thanks!
The bolded part...I would really take with a grain of salt. I mean, what kind of "corrections" are you making, anyway? You have to be very careful that you're not reinforcing the behaviour instead of discouraging it. For example, if you push her away, she'll think you are playing, and she'll get more excited and bite more. If you smack her or attempt to hold her mouth closed, she will either think you are playing (and get more excited, and bite more), feel confused (and bite more), or think she's being threatened and needs to defend herself (and bite more...). Saying "no" is useless, because a puppy has no idea what "no" means. Even the common advice of "yelping" like you're hurt, I think, just gets them more excited and causes them to bite more (it did with my pup).

The only thing that worked for me was very calmly removing myself every time his teeth touched my skin. I would walk away, step behind a gate or leave the room, and not come back until he was calm. Every time. He wanted to play with me, and it took a while, but he learned that in order to do that he had to keep his mouth on his toys and off my hands.
 

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Dogs are wise creatures. If something doesn't work, they give it up and try something else.

If something doesn't work for humans, we keep trying it because it SHOULD work according to the vet (who knows about as much about dog training as your family doc knows about psychiatry), it worked on TV, it worked for our last dog, our neighbor told us to do it...

If your dog gets too physical with you, don't fight fire with fire. Don't engage them on their level by wrestling them. Leave. Just get up and leave. Make biting "the lonely road". You are the highest reward to your dog when they are trying to play with you. Withhold that reward, and they will have to follow your rules to earn it back.
 

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Your puppy is not being dominant or acting in a dominant manner. She is confused with all that is going on. Look at the whole situation in her perspective. Taken from her mom and liitermates to be taken somewhere where there are different people, different noises and different smells. If she was taken from the litter to young, she did not learn social skills from her mom or mates. Biting to puppy is what you do. Moms and mates teach what is acceptable bite pressure.

I advise people to not even try to teach no bite because dogs play with their mouths. Working with them on being easy when they bite is more realistic. Yes puppy teach can hurt, but you chose to get a puppy to raise you have to deal with what come with it. Getting frustrated and angry will only cause more confusion and frustration for the puppy.

You being pregnant is another factor to look at. Your hormones and body are emitting all kinds of different energy fields that the puppy can feel, sense and smell. How are you feeling? Are your moods swinging back and forth? Your energy is flying through the air and the closer you are to the puppy the more it picks up on it. Touching them it like using shocker paddles. If you are in a good mood then the energy feels good to them. If you are off, in a bad mood, sad...any negative emotion, you touching them is like an electrical shock. Best advice I can give in dealing with dogs of all ages is to not interact with them when your moods is negative in any way. This will prevent the negative action-reaction spiral.

I agree with what was mentioned above. Redirect with a toy, flirt pole is great for puppies. Tell her easy when she is biting to hard and praise when she play bites soft. Now here is the really hard one. As humans we have an instinct to jerk our hand away when something goes to get it. In this cause the puppy thinks that is just tooo cool. They like swinging things, like your swinging hand while you walk and it is even more cool when you jerk it away when they go for it. You actually hurt yourself more by jerking your hand out of teeth then you would with just feeling pressure. Deprogram that automatic response. Everything a puppy/dog learns is an action-reaction pattern. Change your action or reaction and stay calm, the puppy will change its action-reaction.
 

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I will admit, I say no. But I try to be specific and I try to redirect to a positive behavior ASAP. When Tank would bite and mouth us... I would say "No Bite buddy..." then I would offer him a toy and say "Bite this!" After a little while, he got it and stopped. Towards the end of his 4th month, he had stopped biting/mouthing human hands and was doing it more to his toys. We had a few instances with him getting ahold of my daughter's shoes, but he hasn't chewed up a shoe in months. We haven't had too many issues with Nintendo mouthing/biting thankfully. He's much more chill then Tank was at his age.
 

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I will admit, I say no. But I try to be specific and I try to redirect to a positive behavior ASAP. When Tank would bite and mouth us... I would say "No Bite buddy..." then I would offer him a toy and say "Bite this!" After a little while, he got it and stopped. Towards the end of his 4th month, he had stopped biting/mouthing human hands and was doing it more to his toys. We had a few instances with him getting ahold of my daughter's shoes, but he hasn't chewed up a shoe in months. We haven't had too many issues with Nintendo mouthing/biting thankfully. He's much more chill then Tank was at his age.
Silly question - how does redirecting a bite to a toy terminate the biting or chewing? You're not stopping the bite, you're getting the dog to bite something else that is not you.

And what about owners - like me - that choose not to use chew toys?
 

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Silly question - how does redirecting a bite to a toy terminate the biting or chewing? You're not stopping the bite, you're getting the dog to bite something else that is not you.

And what about owners - like me - that choose not to use chew toys?
Dogs need to bite and chew. It's fun for them, stress-relieving, and especially helps teething puppies relieve the pain in their gums. The point is to teach them the appropriate things to chew, not to stop chewing altogether. Why would you ever choose not to give your dog any chew toys? What is he supposed to entertain himself with?
 

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Dogs need to bite and chew. It's fun for them, stress-relieving, and especially helps teething puppies relieve the pain in their gums. The point is to teach them the appropriate things to chew, not to stop chewing altogether. Why would you ever choose not to give your dog any chew toys? What is he supposed to entertain himself with?
Dogs will naturally chew - my dogs have only ever gotten bones. Have no plans on carrying around anything to redirect my dog to if/when he decides to chew on someone's fingers, hands or any other part of the body. Chewing or biting of human anything gets terminated. Period. There's a time and a place for chewing. Terminating human contact with teeth does not stop a dog from chewing a bone.
 

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Dogs will naturally chew - my dogs have only ever gotten bones. Have no plans on carrying around anything to redirect my dog to if/when he decides to chew on someone's fingers, hands or any other part of the body. Chewing or biting of human anything gets terminated. Period. There's a time and a place for chewing. Terminating human contact with teeth does not stop a dog from chewing a bone.
Yes, exactly. You asked how redirection terminates biting/chewing. It doesn't, it just helps teach them the appropriate items to bite/chew. This is a good thing. It's not the only way to stop play biting, or even the best way. Like I said before, any time my pup's teeth touched my skin I got up and walked away, and now he doesn't play bite. But it's not a bad thing to give a learning puppy an alternative.
 

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When Tank was a puppy, I didn't carry anything around, but he always had toys and recreational bones nearby when we were at home. So it was easy to just grab something and re-direct the chewing. I also noticed that he did it less when he had playmates (My mother-in-law's dogs). We also did time-outs if he got too hyper. I think a combination of redirection and learning from older dogs helped Tank stop. My mother in law's pit bull Sarge was the perfect mentor for Tank and taught him a lot... so Tank caught on reeeeally quickly with a lot of stuff. He now only chews on his toys and bones when they are available to him. Period. He knows what he and cannot chew on.
 
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