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Old 01-02-2013, 03:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default She barks, growls and bites. Play or what?

Sophie is to be 3 months old this Saturday. We got her at exactly 8 weeks old, from a breeder and she spent most of the time playing with the other pups. I don't really know about time spent with her mom though seeing as there were so many puppies around, but the adults were kept for the time being in the courtyard.

She is loveable, but she has these energy outbursts to call them so. I can't take her out for walks before she finishes her shot scheme so i guess this may be one the reasons. However, we have a quite big apartment and she loves running around.

My main problem is that she keeps play biting. I let her bite when she is gentle and when it gets thougher i usually get her out of the room. Usually she doesn't run in other rooms, she just cries and scratches at the door until i let her in (about 30 seconds). I have tried the "yelp method" since she was 2 months, but that didn't work. I also tried making a loud noise and even growling at her, but to no avail either.
Now, usually, after this time out that i began using recently she goes to sleep.

Well, more details about the play time: i get on the floor with her and we play together with her toys, but she is usually more interested in my hand. When she begins to bite i stop moving my hand, but she begins pulling and shaking her head as if my fingers were one of her toys. So i guess this technique doesn't really work.

Also, when she is in this mood and i try to get up and leave she bites my sleeves and it's quite hard to make her let go of that. As for my feet, she loves moving objects and all the family lets her chew on their shoes because it has calmed her down before. I think this is the problem. How do i get her to stop it? Usually, she just manages to steal my slippers while i am wearing them and siting down, trying to get some work done.

Finally, the most important side: my dad has a new way of playing with her and i think it could lead to more agressive biting. He puts on a pair of gloves and this way she is allowed to bite his hands for as long as she wants. I have seen that she began barking at me when i say her in a firm voice "No" and she begins biting and pulling on my pants at knee level. Also, when she is on the sofa, she growls and barks at me if i try to get next to her (sometimes) or get her down.

She isn't enrolled in any puppy obedience classes because there aren't any things of this kind in my area. She knows the commands Sit and Down in some measure (usually if i have food around so i carry some in my pocket) and has recently begun to learn the Stay command.

Any ideas? Thanks!
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This sounds very typical puppy behaviour - but I agree with you that your Dad's game is teaching her very bad habits! The yelp and turn away method works for most pups, especially those that recognise it from playing with other puppies, but it has to be implemented constantly and consistently by everyone - if your Dad is teaching her that it is OK and fun to bite at hands, she is going to want to play that exciting game with everyone. Get a couple of really fun tug toys and a puppy Kong or two, and ask (even insist!) your family to use those instead of hands and feet. Meanwhile, I would keep on with the yelp-and-game-over - it really does work if you are consistent and persistent, although it can take weeks rather than days. At 12 weeks Sophie is still a baby, with a very short attention span, and it will take time for things to sink in and for her to remember.

Puppy zoomies are absolutely normal - typically just when everyone else is ready for bed, in my experience! But pups also need their sleep - if she is crashing out as soon as she is in a quiet place, perhaps she is getting a little bit too much attention and stimulation. I'd try working on the Settle cue with her - every time you see her settled and relaxed, praise and reward her. At first this will probably rev her up again, but gradually she will associate relaxing and being calm with Good Stuff for Puppies, and find it easier and easier.

There is lots of good advice on puppy raising on the Dog Star Daily site - Dog Star Daily
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, absolutely fjm is right about what is going on. The zoomies are all part of normal puppy zest for life. The mouthiness is also typical puppy stuff and if Sophie really spent most of her first 8 weeks playing with other puppies she should understand the "ouch" and I don't want to play this game anymore response. Everybody has to be consistent about it though and the ok to bite gloves things is a big ask for her. How is she really supposed to understand the difference between gloved hands and bare hands? I would make sure that game stops asap. Grabbing at clothes is also something that Lily would do when she was young. It was very annoying (and potentially expensive!) so I would work at making sure your clothes are off limits as toys. When she gets crazy a settle or go to place (bed or crate) can be very helpful. Dog Star Daily should also be part of your daily routine. Ian Dunbar and his folks have lots of great info there.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you for the replies! I told my dad to stop the game with the gloves. I checked the website and indeed found some really useful advice.

It seems to me, too, that she is more agitated when she is tired. Usually i just let her sleep on her dog bed while i am in my bed so she can't come in contact with me and therefore get even more excited. However, other times she would just bark at me for not letting her with me in bed even if this would lead to even more biting and no sleep.

Also, i have an issue about the training sessions. Just now i was trying to teach her "Off" using the closed fist with treat in it method. But she is biting me so i think either this is not a technique for puppies or she is too agitated. She usually get this energy bursts during training sessions, when instead of listening to the command she jumps, tried to bite me and take the food. Maybe i am doing them at the wrong time? She seems to be more responsive after having recently woken up, but sometimes i do them before feeding time. Maybe she is too hungry?
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would give her a small meal before training - think of a very young, very hungry child being asked to recite a nursery rhyme before getting ice cream - a tantrum could be almost guaranteed! And keep training sessions very short at this age - just a minute or tow, or even less, with lots of positive reinforcement. You are really teaching her to enjoy learning rather than expecting her to learn lots of commands and tricks - plenty of time for those as she gets older.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you! This worked for her! I will have to keep doing it in the future.

However, another issue came up today. We didn't have anymore meat to feed her today so we gave her a soup with few bits of chicken, carrot, rice and we put some kibble and hard cheese in it, too. Turns out she was quite irritated, only eating the cheese and the tiny bits of chicken. Afterwards, she kept barking (we were having lunch) and especially at my grandma because she usually feeds her. She kept pulling on my grandma' s pants and house shoes and i managed to get her off and put her alone. When i tried to take her from grandma, she growled and tried to bite me, too.

This time i don't know anymore if it was play or not. She slept all the morning today so it is also possible she considered this some fun new method of getting grandma to play with her.

Any advice?
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds as if she is hungry to me, and expected food from the usual human. A scrambled egg is a good standby if you run out of food, and is unlikely to upset her tummy. Too much change in the diet can lead to diarrhoea - mine have sometimes had particular problems with cheese and other dairy foods.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you! I had no idea about scrambled eggs.

Now, this problem with biting is not that new. For instance, when i try to teach her to play fetch i have 2 toys at hand because she usually doesn't give me the one i threw so i have to use the other one. Sometimes, however, the ball falls out of her month and when i try to get the ball she growls and snaps at my hand.

This is also happening when i say her No, for instance when trying to make her stop pulling on my pants. I try to keep calm, but assertive, but she just bites quite hard (especially my feet if i have no shoewear) so it' s hard to hold still and wait for her to lose interest. I also keep toys at hand, but she is not interested of them or she chases them when i throw, but as i try to move she comes back running and bites again.

This happens about 2-3 times a day, depending on the day.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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When she gets charged up and nippy/bitey, try putting her on a sit or down stay. Make sure she holds it. If she is committed to doing one thing you tell her, she can't do another thing that is not what you want.

For the fetch, many people use two balls or toys to teach fetch. You need to decide what you expect her to do when she brings things to you. Do you want her to put them down? If so use drop it and leave it to be able to then safely pick the toy off the floor. Do you want her to give you the toy (probably the better option)? If so then make sure she holds the toy until you say give or out. As she lets go, pop her a little tasty treat. Once she is good at this you fade the treat.

I am glad (and not surprised) that fjm's suggestion about the small meal before training has been working. That is what I would have suggested as well.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default My 10 1/2 week old puppy

Lavinia,
I have a puppy who will be 11 weeks old this Sunday. He is also quite the biter. I have used the "off" method with him and he picked this up very quickly, but will only comply if I have my training treat bag attached to my hip with white clicker in hand! Otherwise, being a very smart poodle, I guess he figures there is nothing in it for him, and will not "off" when told. Leo also attacks all of our ankles and clothes and turns to bite at our faces if we are too close. Everything I read says this is normal puppy behavior and boy do those little shark teeth hurt. I have cuts all up and down my arms. I have found a very useful video on Youtube called Tab 289. He shows some tutorials on training and I have tried a couple. They do work, but you must be consistent and not give up when puppy does not respond. They are still so young and lose attention quickly. I hate to use the crate as a time out, but find that when he gets too nippy, it does help to let him rest and think about why playtime has come to an end. I usually let him out after a couple of minutes and try to resume play again. Leo is a super sweet dog, especially when he is all tired out and will let me pet him and give him kisses without biting at my hands. Leo also loves to steal all of our shoes and slippers even though he has a ton of toys. I guess he likes the scent of us on it. Like your dog, Leo will growl and bark when he goes crazy in play. And he will then bite at our ankles and clothes. At these times, I stop playtime and put him in crate for a couple of minutes. Of course if I have the training pouch on, and I tell him "off" he will listen for treats, the little devil!!! My biggest problem with Leo right now is that he "humps" my legs. I don't know if this is a normal thing or dominance thing. At this age, I would not think dominance, but I can't be sure. Does anyone have any experience on this? Also, how do I get him to stop rough playing with my senior toy poodle who is 15 years old, blind and almost completely deaf? I know Leo is not trying to hurt Maggie on purpose and only wants to play, but he nips at her hind legs and at her ears and she cries out and then I usually scoop her up quickly so he can't hurt her again. I usually keep Leo on a training leash that is about 10 feet long, but he really pulls against it to get at her. At night when he is calm he likes to snuggle up against her on the couch and they sleep sweetly together after Maggie realizes that he is not going to hurt her. Will this pass? Is this a stage? I want to socialize Leo in puppy classes with other dogs, but I have to wait until he builds up his immune system, so other than Maggie, he does not have any other dogs to socialize or play with. What do you guys think? And what do I do about the humping?
Thanks,
Darcy
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