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Hey everyone!
I am a first time poodle owner with a six month old standard poodle pup- Rory. This is my first time to train and care for a puppy.
I have had him since he was 9 weeks old and have done positive clicker training since day one. He is really smart and highly food motivated so he has learned quickly. He knows a dozen commands. and is well-mannered 90% of the time.
However......
He was a literal land shark between the ages of 3 and 5 months. My arms and hands were covered in cuts from his baby teeth. He has gotten much better (6 months now)
But He is still bitey/mouthy and will also try to hump my leg while biting from time to time. It is usually while playing or when he gets excited and sometimes it seems like he does it when I am focused on something else- to get attention. He also does it sometimes when we’re on a walk and he starts to get the zoomy’s but I can’t let him off leash. He will turn back to me and jump and bite my arm.
i have been super conscious about notrewarding his biting behavior since he was a puppy. whenhe was little I would just walk away from him and ignore him every time or place him in his playpen for a short time out. (Yelping in pain never worked- he always just ignored it it and Kept chewing.)
Now, when he bites or tries to mount my leg, I tell him no and put him in a time out or will leave the room and shut the door. if i just turn away he will bite me from behind.
it doesn’t seem to be making a big difference.
I know he’s super smart so I’m not sure why he isn’t catching on to the fact that he shouldn’t keep doing this.
For context - he usually has a biting episode once a day or once every other day. Sometimes more but not excessive usually.
do you have any suggestions for what to do? I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s something with his temperament? Is this just my pup or has anyone else dealt with this? Most everything I have read says that by the time their six month old they should not be fighting and mouthing any more.??

Since he is a standard and supposed to be a big boy I am waiting until he’s a year old to neuter. I don’t know if that has something to do with it.
I am open to any and all suggestions!! Please help!I’m feeling a bit discouraged
 

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Welcome to you and Rory! This all sounds verrrry familiar. :)

Does he have any other behaviour issues? And are you seeing any decrease in the number of episodes? Or does it seem to be escalating?

It's very possible he's just getting over-excited and his brain turns off. I'd focus on being consistent, because, while he's at a challenging age, he's also at an age where you'll suddenly see your hard work pay off. Like, "Ohhhhh! So you WERE listening to me all that time."

At 9.5 months, Peggy is much calmer at home, but she can still go past threshold sometimes and I'll see a glimmer of that nightmarish bitey phase.

Then again, she doesn't have all those male hormones, which I know can be extra challenging through adolescence.

With her, turning into the most boring statue works best. Not in a dramatic or weird way. I just sort of....turn off. Go blank. Avoid eye contact. And it works almost instantaneously now.

Saying "No" (or, God forbid, shouting it) was the WORST. She'd tuck her tail and start zooming and biting. It was like pouring fuel on a fire. Same with those silly yelping tricks. I think they work if they're honest. Like, if you actually did get hurt and reacted authentically. But with the fake sound, best case scenario, your poodle ignores it. More likely, if he's already worked up, it will take him up a few MORE notches. Eek. Glad you figured that one out. :)

If I were you, I'd start making a note of when it happens and make an effort to avoid those specific scenarios. You'll likely see a pattern emerging. Like it happens most when he's over-tired, or when he's not getting enough mental exercise.

How is he with loose-leash walking? Because if he's pulling and frustrated rather than sniffing and enjoying himself on walks, that will definitely lead to outbursts at that age.

And you say it also happens when he's trying to get your attention. What would you prefer he be doing at those times? Does he have a place to go and something to chew? Is he bored and aimless? Is he good at settling and napping when he's tired?

You don't actually need to answer all these questions. :) Just some things to think about from someone who only a few months ago was in a very similar place.

P.S. I wrote all of this with the assumption that he is not breaking skin anymore or even really hurting you at all. If he IS hurting you, I would enlist the help of a skilled trainer right away. That would not be okay.
 

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Peggy's got good advice. My mini poodle is around a year old and all the mouthing has stopped unless people try to play handsy games with him. I think it was mostly gone by 9 months. I referred to him as the Tasmanian devil when he was younger.
 

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Sounds normal puppy to me. My poodle was a mouthy devil. Leaving the room and shutting the door helped a lot for us. Shed just bite again if ignored her. Crate time if she was over tired also helped. Puppies need to sleep a lot and get silly if they dont. I also worked a lot with practicing going from arousal to calm. On/off/on/off. So playing toy and tug, then asking for a sit, then the moment she sat , playing again. Gradually working up to longer breaks/focus, eyes on me instead of the toy. That helped give her a break so she didn't get as riled up and gradually gave her practice at switching from crazy to calm.

With jumping to bite on leash I did the same. Jumping to bite doesn't work, but a sit and calm and focus then we get to move forward.

Puppy pictures, please ??? ?
 

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Oh... and I eventually learned to see signs she was overexcited, and then start working on sit/calm/focus BEFORE she got so wild she was biting. And screaming like she really hurt me helped as well. She shrugged off an "ow!!!" But looked concerned when I wailed as if she had severed a limb.
 

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One thing I forgot to include in my novel-length reply: Sometimes behaviours get REALLY BAD before they get better. So if you're standing there ignoring your bitey puppy, thinking "Arrrrhhh this isn't working," you might be just a moment away from them giving up. And when you see it through to the end like that, it's much more effective. Otherwise, it's the opposite. They've merely learned to be persistent.
 

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Hi and welcome to you and Rory! Everyone already gave you really good advice. I can't think of anything else to add. Sisko did the same thing, but he didn't hump my leg. He would bite me and my clothes(those clothes were never the same) I wish you luck!
 

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Also, dogs get molars around that age. So, your pup is teething again. I call it, ”Evil bitey phase part 2.” I walked around with a bully stick in my pocket and would not touch Noelle unless she had a chew stick.
 

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Also, dogs get molars around that age. So, your pup is teething again. I call it, ”Evil bitey phase part 2.” I walked around with a bully stick in my pocket and would not touch Noelle unless she had a chew stick.
That's a really good one!

For the longest time, I thought sticking a toy in Peggy's mouth wasn't working. But then one day she ran to grab a toy when she wanted to greet me but was too excited to control her chompers.

She did that consistently for a couple of months.
 

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We had a similar problem with Marchie when he was younger. For him, it was an intolerance to frustration: if he couldn't meet that dog walking across the street, or we wouldn't play when he wanted to play, etc., he would jump up and clamp on the jaws. Or start nipping our butts! I tried carrying a chew toy to whip out on walks, but he didn't want that. If we were on a walk, I'd just step on his leash down low so he couldn't jump or tie it to a pole and give him a time out so as not to feed into the behavior. Mostly, that just gave ME time to cool down. As he got older, his toleration for frustration grew and grew. By about the age of 2, it was pretty much gone. He still has a moment of that behavior now and then (he just turned 4), mostly when we're playing outside and he gets wildish.
So, know that Rory will get better with maturity, and see if giving a chew toy as a substitute (even a stick when you are on a walk) helps. Otherwise, try to defuse it by turning your back and not giving attention for the behavior.
 

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I believe from your description your puppy's biting behavior is well within the normal range. Overall, I'm thinking that you are just about to turn a corner since the biting incidents are decreasing. I also thought Peggy asked many good questions and gave you good advice.

You did not describe his level of exercise. If you are not already doing so, I'd tire Rory out several times a week in addition to regular walks. The exercise should be sustained enough so afterwards, he is quite calm and perhaps wants to lay down for a little while. At his age, Rory has enormous energy to use and will feel best after a good long run or a game where he gets to sprint over and over until tired.

I'd also work on getting him to be very gentle with his mouth. One of my favorite ways of achieving a "gentle mouth" is to work with treats so he will only get one when he shows restraint and gentleness. The development of this skill usually starts with the dog seeing and smelling the treat, and then he will most likely lunge to grab the treat. I have the dog sit before me, and then show the treat but turn the back of my hand to his mouth if he approaches the treat aggressively. Gradually, over many repetitions, I'm able to get the dog to proudly take a treat slowly and with gentle finesse so I can just feel his teeth gently brush my fingers if they are touched at all.

I'd also be working on basic commands while walking. At his age, he will readily learn them and love to respond and let you know he is a smart dog capable of controlling his behavior. I believe this will help in the house as well so Rory knows what is expected of him.

Neutering Rory will help him. My understanding is that at 6 months its acceptable to neuter your dog so I'd suggest asking for your vet's recommendation.
 

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I believe from your description your puppy's biting behavior is well within the normal range. Overall, I'm thinking that you are just about to turn a corner since the biting incidents are decreasing. I also thought Peggy asked many good questions and gave you good advice.

You did not describe his level of exercise. If you are not already doing so, I'd tire Rory out several times a week in addition to regular walks. The exercise should be sustained enough so afterwards, he is quite calm and perhaps wants to lay down for a little while. At his age, Rory has enormous energy to use and will feel best after a good long run or a game where he gets to sprint over and over until tired.

I'd also work on getting him to be very gentle with his mouth. One of my favorite ways of achieving a "gentle mouth" is to work with treats so he will only get one when he shows restraint and gentleness. The development of this skill usually starts with the dog seeing and smelling the treat, and then he will most likely lunge to grab the treat. I have the dog sit before me, and then show the treat but turn the back of my hand to his mouth if he approaches the treat aggressively. Gradually, over many repetitions, I'm able to get the dog to proudly take a treat slowly and with gentle finesse so I can just feel his teeth gently brush my fingers if they are touched at all.

I'd also be working on basic commands while walking. At his age, he will readily learn them and love to respond and let you know he is a smart dog capable of controlling his behavior. I believe this will help in the house as well so Rory knows what is expected of him.

Neutering Rory will help him. My understanding is that at 6 months its acceptable to neuter your dog so I'd suggest asking for your vet's recommendation.
I agree mostly with this, but just wanted to add that I would not consider neutering a 6 month old spoo. Current research suggests it is strongly preferred to wait until growth is complete. The earliest possible I would consider it is 12 months, but 18-24 months would be better for a large breed dog. My dog's a minipoo and his breeder still had in his contract that he couldn't be neutered until after 12 months. Humping is an overexcitement response, and you can work with it the same as any other excitement based behavior. My 1 yr old minipoo does hump but only in very specific circumstances, and he stops when asked to. I'm hoping it will decrease as he ages, but even if it doesn't it's already not that bad.

Here is a link to some research on spoos and neutering by UC Davis. There are undoubtedly other issues as of yet unstudied, but this is what we currently have to go off.

 

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Discussion Starter #14
[/QUOTE]
Welcome to you and Rory! This all sounds verrrry familiar. :)

Does he have any other behaviour issues? And are you seeing any decrease in the number of episodes? Or does it seem to be escalating?

It's very possible he's just getting over-excited and his brain turns off. I'd focus on being consistent, because, while he's at a challenging age, he's also at an age where you'll suddenly see your hard work pay off. Like, "Ohhhhh! So you WERE listening to me all that time."

At 9.5 months, Peggy is much calmer at home, but she can still go past threshold sometimes and I'll see a glimmer of that nightmarish bitey phase.

Then again, she doesn't have all those male hormones, which I know can be extra challenging through adolescence.

With her, turning into the most boring statue works best. Not in a dramatic or weird way. I just sort of....turn off. Go blank. Avoid eye contact. And it works almost instantaneously now.

Saying "No" (or, God forbid, shouting it) was the WORST. She'd tuck her tail and start zooming and biting. It was like pouring fuel on a fire. Same with those silly yelping tricks. I think they work if they're honest. Like, if you actually did get hurt and reacted authentically. But with the fake sound, best case scenario, your poodle ignores it. More likely, if he's already worked up, it will take him up a few MORE notches. Eek. Glad you figured that one out. :)

If I were you, I'd start making a note of when it happens and make an effort to avoid those specific scenarios. You'll likely see a pattern emerging. Like it happens most when he's over-tired, or when he's not getting enough mental exercise.

How is he with loose-leash walking? Because if he's pulling and frustrated rather than sniffing and enjoying himself on walks, that will definitely lead to outbursts at that age.

And you say it also happens when he's trying to get your attention. What would you prefer he be doing at those times? Does he have a place to go and something to chew? Is he bored and aimless? Is he good at settling and napping when he's tired?

You don't actually need to answer all these questions. :) Just some things to think about from someone who only a few months ago was in a very similar place.

P.S. I wrote all of this with the assumption that he is not breaking skin anymore or even really hurting you at all. If he IS hurting you, I would enlist the help of a skilled trainer right away. That would not be okay.

Thank you so much! and thank you for your thorough response! (I accidentally had the notifications off, so I am just now seeing it!.)

The only behavioral issue he has been having is not wanting to go into his crate to sleep. This started about a month ago. I don't leave him in there during the day as he has a playpen and never tries to get out of it. And I've never used it for discipline. He just refuses to go in there when he knows its bedtime. He will go in all day long and will even nap in their from time to time. But when its bedtime he will run away and go anywhere else. Ha! I have been letting him sleep in his playpen attached to his open crate and he goes in and out as he wants during the night. But that really is the only behavior issue.

it seems to me like the episodes are decreasing. And recently I've seen him being a tiny bit more sensitive to me But then again, some days, he will just spring into demon mode.
I do think it is related to both being over-energetic and being over-tired!

He does really great at loose-leash walking. He used to pull and bark to go play with other dogs but he is finally listening now and automatically sits as I let him watch them as long as he doesn't run or bark.

As far as getting my attention, he does have a mat that he can go to (he goes there when I say "mat") and he has a play pen that he likes to go into for naps. He just wants me to play with him constantly when I am around. He's not cuddly but loves to be right next to me playing. He will settle pretty well for naps, but I've noticed during quarantine time when I'm home all the time, he doesn't sleep as much. So I've started putting him in his playpen for naps when he starts getting bitey.

And no, sometimes the bites "hurt" a little but they never break the skin of leave marks.

Thank you once again! Your response makes make me feel so much better that he is normal :) so great to hear from people who have gone through the same thing- to see hope on the other side!!!
 

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Peggy's got good advice. My mini poodle is around a year old and all the mouthing has stopped unless people try to play handsy games with him. I think it was mostly gone by 9 months. I referred to him as the Tasmanian devil when he was younger.
Thank you! It helps to see that this is normal ha! A lot of stuff I have read makes it seem like he should be completely over it by 4 months, so it was making me feel like maybe this was a more serious problem! thanks!
 

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Sounds normal puppy to me. My poodle was a mouthy devil. Leaving the room and shutting the door helped a lot for us. Shed just bite again if ignored her. Crate time if she was over tired also helped. Puppies need to sleep a lot and get silly if they dont. I also worked a lot with practicing going from arousal to calm. On/off/on/off. So playing toy and tug, then asking for a sit, then the moment she sat , playing again. Gradually working up to longer breaks/focus, eyes on me instead of the toy. That helped give her a break so she didn't get as riled up and gradually gave her practice at switching from crazy to calm.

With jumping to bite on leash I did the same. Jumping to bite doesn't work, but a sit and calm and focus then we get to move forward.

Puppy pictures, please ??? ?
thank you so much for your response! It helps to know that I am not alone in this! I will try to incorporate your tips into our training. I think working more on his on/off switch will be key!!

I'm always happy to share puppy pics :) ha ha here are some! from baby to current!
9E156A67-5F17-4FFA-84C8-701D03CAD296.jpeg 60019844137__2BE157FA-93BD-4387-99C2-0B69E5B1561A.jpeg 1EB9C244-B795-48D7-9433-4AAE075BEB4E.jpeg IMG_9788.jpeg
 

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Also, dogs get molars around that age. So, your pup is teething again. I call it, ”Evil bitey phase part 2.” I walked around with a bully stick in my pocket and would not touch Noelle unless she had a chew stick.
thank you! that's encouraging! hopefully this Evil bitey part 2 is almost over! ha!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
We had a similar problem with Marchie when he was younger. For him, it was an intolerance to frustration: if he couldn't meet that dog walking across the street, or we wouldn't play when he wanted to play, etc., he would jump up and clamp on the jaws. Or start nipping our butts! I tried carrying a chew toy to whip out on walks, but he didn't want that. If we were on a walk, I'd just step on his leash down low so he couldn't jump or tie it to a pole and give him a time out so as not to feed into the behavior. Mostly, that just gave ME time to cool down. As he got older, his toleration for frustration grew and grew. By about the age of 2, it was pretty much gone. He still has a moment of that behavior now and then (he just turned 4), mostly when we're playing outside and he gets wildish.
So, know that Rory will get better with maturity, and see if giving a chew toy as a substitute (even a stick when you are on a walk) helps. Otherwise, try to defuse it by turning your back and not giving attention for the behavior.
thank you!! It is so helpful to know that others have gone through the same thing and that there is not something "wrong" with him or what I'm doing!
 

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I believe from your description your puppy's biting behavior is well within the normal range. Overall, I'm thinking that you are just about to turn a corner since the biting incidents are decreasing. I also thought Peggy asked many good questions and gave you good advice.

You did not describe his level of exercise. If you are not already doing so, I'd tire Rory out several times a week in addition to regular walks. The exercise should be sustained enough so afterwards, he is quite calm and perhaps wants to lay down for a little while. At his age, Rory has enormous energy to use and will feel best after a good long run or a game where he gets to sprint over and over until tired.

I'd also work on getting him to be very gentle with his mouth. One of my favorite ways of achieving a "gentle mouth" is to work with treats so he will only get one when he shows restraint and gentleness. The development of this skill usually starts with the dog seeing and smelling the treat, and then he will most likely lunge to grab the treat. I have the dog sit before me, and then show the treat but turn the back of my hand to his mouth if he approaches the treat aggressively. Gradually, over many repetitions, I'm able to get the dog to proudly take a treat slowly and with gentle finesse so I can just feel his teeth gently brush my fingers if they are touched at all.

I'd also be working on basic commands while walking. At his age, he will readily learn them and love to respond and let you know he is a smart dog capable of controlling his behavior. I believe this will help in the house as well so Rory knows what is expected of him.

Neutering Rory will help him. My understanding is that at 6 months its acceptable to neuter your dog so I'd suggest asking for your vet's recommendation.
Thank you for your input! So helpful!
I take him on two long 30 minute walks a day and then we have several play sessions/ training sessions inside. We play fetch with the tennis ball a lot as well.

He does really well when there are treats involved/if he is focused on training. The issues are usually when I am not using treats or actively training him.
He knows about a dozen commands now which he follows like 95% of the time- unless he is in his biting stages.

My vet recommended waiting for a year for neutering due to his size (45 pounds at 6 months) and the development of his growth plates.
 

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I agree mostly with this, but just wanted to add that I would not consider neutering a 6 month old spoo. Current research suggests it is strongly preferred to wait until growth is complete. The earliest possible I would consider it is 12 months, but 18-24 months would be better for a large breed dog. My dog's a minipoo and his breeder still had in his contract that he couldn't be neutered until after 12 months. Humping is an overexcitement response, and you can work with it the same as any other excitement based behavior. My 1 yr old minipoo does hump but only in very specific circumstances, and he stops when asked to. I'm hoping it will decrease as he ages, but even if it doesn't it's already not that bad.

Here is a link to some research on spoos and neutering by UC Davis. There are undoubtedly other issues as of yet unstudied, but this is what we currently have to go off.

Thank you! Yes, my vet recommended to wait until a full year. If his few little behavior problems get better, I am in no rush to neuter him as he is not roaming free around other dogs. The only issue will be if I have to put him in part time doggy day care because of work whenever this work-from-home quarantine stuff is over. I think every place requires it and my mom has been babysitting him as a puppy but I'm not sure how long she will be willing to do it.
Thank you for the link!
 
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