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Old 12-15-2012, 06:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 15 week old puppy biting and growling

I need some help with my spoo. She is 15 weeks old and we have had her since she was 7 weeks old(I know now that I should have waited until 8 weeks...didnt know then). We have had problems with her biting since she was about 8 weeks old. We have tried everything in the book but now that she has really started teething she is even worse. She bites hard even after 8 weeks of bite inhibition training. We have taken her around many people and she bites all of them. So she cannot even be properly socialized because we have to pull her away from everyone because she wont stop biting them HARD! We are taking her to a puppy class starting Jan 3rd. I am only taking her because I am hoping being around other dogs and people will calm her down. Other than the biting she is perfect, she is pretty much housebroke, knows sit, down, come, and turn in a circle. Will this ever end?! I am afraid she will never be reliable around other people! HELP!!!!
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How are you doing the bite inhibition training? I do think it is easier to manage if the pup has spent enough time with her siblings to have learned the basics - was she by any chance one of a small litter?

If the basic scream-and-turn-away every time the teeth hurt is not working, you may need to institute a brief time out. I used to mutter long, pained rigmaroles to myself about how much it hurt, and I was not going to play with horrible bitey pups, and generally behaved like a grumpy six year old. Then after a few seconds when the pup was sitting back and staring at me, I would start the game again, all bright and fun until the next nip, and the next withdrawal. But mine were small, and got the message very quickly.

How is she when taking treats? Is the nipping just out of excitement when playing and greeting, or is she using it to protect her space and get people to leave her, or her possessions, alone?
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What type of bite inhibition training are you doing? I used Ian Dunbar's method and it works like a charm. Now, even when Laszlo is excited, playing tug or something, he is gentle with his mouth. When there is the least sting, usually due to accidental contact, and I say "Ouch," he immediately sits and waits for permission to recommence play.

Your dog needs to know that when she bites too hard, the fun stops. If she is biting hard, do NOT try to stop all mouthing. Let her mouth you, but when she actually hurts you, yelp "Ouch!" Make her stop playing, perform a sit, a down and a come or "touch" and then start playing again. If she bites too hard in the same play session, end the game immediately, and maybe confine her for a few minutes behind a baby gate or something as a time out. That way she learns that when she hurts you, the fun is over. Also, a puppy playgroup would be great. The other puppies will let her know when she has crossed the line, she'll have fun and you'll be able to spare your arms!
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you for your responces so far. To work with bite inhibition I have done the following:
-used a high pitched yelp(I also used many other pitches to see if any would work)
-growled at her(this one worked for a little while and then stopped)
-ignored her for a little while
-told her NO BITE and held her mouth
-gave her a different command and then try to pet her again(didn't work)
- held the top of her mouth under her teeth so she bites herself (she didn't even care)
- rewarded her when she wasn't biting
-put bitter apple on my hands

I am afraid I will never have a dog I can trust not to bite people-when she bites she actually does damage-she can really hurt someone(I have cuts and teeth punctures all over my skin). This is really not great because I wanted to train her to be a therapy dog. I have trained dogs in the past who have let little kids hold them and sleep on them as a pillow when they are older. I am not new to training. I just can't seem to get this biting under control. I have never had a SPOO before, just mixed breeds and a toy poodle that I got from a backyard breeder before I knew better(that was the best dog, he let kids hold him in any way and he loved it...even toddlers would play with him). Is this problem common around SPOO's?

She knows the command off but blows me off when she is biting me.
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Here are my two cents, based on very little experience, but a lot of reading. Hopefully people who know more what they are talking about more will chime in soon.

I would stop the growling and mouth holding, as that may work her up further. I also wouldn't use the bitter apple, as you want her to like getting food and toys from your hand.

I would combine the yelping with a down-stay for a good 5 seconds. Putting her in a down will reinforce her deference to you. Then play more. You've got to do this every time. Make her wait until you say it's okay to play again. If she leaves the down-stay, keep putting her back into it until she stays there. It may take several reps if she is keyed up but it'll eventually work.

If she keeps biting and won't stop, put her by herself for 5-10 minutes in a long-term confinement area. I would NOT use a crate for this, but that's just me.

Have you had a chance to look at the link I put in before? DogStar Daily is a great resource. I'm telling you, our mini was super mouthy as a puppy, and after we followed Dr. Dunbar's method, he's as good as gold as far as mouthing and biting are concerned. The key is, you want to reduce the pressure of the bites BEFORE you get the dog to stop biting entirely. Otherwise, she's an accident waiting to happen.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I did not deal with mouthing at all with my poodle puppy, but our terrier was quite the mouther. He learned to stop through two methods, which we used consistently. It may take a bit to get results, but we would redirect his mouthing to a toy and we would praise him and reward his urge to bite being directed to the proper outlet. Second thing we would do would be end the fun. If he kept biting, we would put our hands behind our backs and not look at him, the attention would just stop. He figured out pretty fast that no one was going to play with him if he kept butting fingers and feet etc in his mouth.
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Old 12-15-2012, 06:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with LegalEagle about Ian Dunbar's methods. Ouch when it hurts and stop the play. Make the pup do something (sit or down) as a calming time out activity. I didn't see an answer to fjm's question about the size of the litter your pup is from. I think a very small litter where your pup didn't have enough rough and tumble time with many siblings is more of an issue than taking the puppy at seven weeks instead of eight. Don't delay dealing with this! Read Ian Dunbar about developmental windows of opportunity.
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Old 12-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you for all of your replies! I tried the ouch and turn away again. Then giving her a command after five seconds. This actually helped a lot! I tried this before when she was younger but maybe now that she is a little older she is understanding what I am telling her a little bit. The real challenge is going to be seeing if it works with others. My friend has a Golden Retreiver Puppy who is the same age as mine...born 3 days apart, and she is having the same problem. That makes me feel like hopefully she will continue to get better and grow out of it with our help. She was from a litter of 9 puppies. I did read that retreivers tend to be more mouthy and she comes from a line of strong retreiving poodles. I am really hoping that the puppy class and getting her to see that meeting new people isnt such a big deal is what really helps end this though because we still have a long way to go.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Actually now that I am thinking about it Lily was really mouthy and would give puppy bites lots when she was about that age. She is a die hard retriever, so maybe that is part of the explanation. I think having her and Peeves being around the same age helped. They reminded each other about bite inhibition. Maybe your pup and the friend's golden can have play dates where you let them rough house a bit, with proper supervision to disengage if it gets too excited.

I'm glad to hear you feel you are making progress. Keep at it.
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Old 12-16-2012, 03:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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milliesmom: My mpoo came to live with us when he was 9 weeks old. From about 12 weeks on he was the mouthiest pup I'd had in 40 years of owning dogs. He was one in a litter of four. I did pretty much what LegalEagle suggested. First though I had to jettison my visible frustration with my chomping pup, and then prevail upon everyone who had contact with him to be as consistent with his training as I was endeavoring to be. THAT was the hardest part! (My dh was the worst offender, he could not restrain himself from playing "poke a finger in the pup's face and watch him nip." Small wonder I had a biter, eh?!)

I also found that striking the right balance between giving my pup enough exercise, but not too much, which would amp him up and make him more bitey, was key. I saw the pattern; if he was too excited or tired but unwilling to settle, he nipped more. Redirecting him, withdrawing attention and reinforcing when he used his mouth appropriately ultimately paid off. There are still sleeves on some of my sweaters that bear the scars of those early days, but happily I now have a poodle with a reliably soft mouth who gently takes treats and food out of hand and never lays teeth on anyone. You might want to try hand-feeding your pup for a while. And then putting her food in a treat ball or puzzle so she has to work for it, it's great mental exercise. If you're not already doing it, you might also try instituting a firm but fair program of Nothing In Life Is Free (NILF) to make her work for everything and anything; attention, petting, getting in or out of her crate, etc., by asking a behavior of her (sit, down, etc.) and having her offer it before she gets what she wants. Good luck taming "the shark."
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