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Peggy LOVES to retrieve, and she especially loves playing frisbee with my husband. But she's developing a new habit that we do not like.

Like a lot of young dogs, she'll sometimes play-growl and want to tug the frisbee. But we can typically redirect this excitement into intense focus on our next throw, sometimes asking for a sit, sometimes giving her a cue to start running. She really gets into it.

Twice in the past week, though, she's gotten over-aroused, growled, and lunged at our hands as we reach for the frisbee on the ground. She didn't bite to break skin or anything. But she definitely put her teeth on us both times—once with me, and once with my husband.

I've had similar interactions with mouthy GSDs.

My instinct is that if this ever happens again, we should turn and walk away. No theatrics. Just game over. At this age, I feel we should be enforcing a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to teeth, regardless of how gentle she is with them.

But before asking my husband to get on the same page, I just want to know if anyone else's poodle gets riled up during fetch and if this is an appropriate solution.

Our mini mix did something similar, but it was more like she was demanding that we throw her toy. It was pushy behaviour, for sure, but also pretty funny from such a small dog. And she'd bark more than growl.

(Note: Peggy's currently in week three of her first heat cycle. I suspect there could be a connection, but don't want to assume the behaviour will simply go away when her hormones level out. Other than this, she's been such a dreamy, mature poodle lately. I love when she stands to have her diaper put on.)
 

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Annie's a very high drive poodle. She did lots of teeth on skin when playing fetch, or, worse, playing soccer ball. I've started to enforce "you must SIT" to get this back. And then we do lots of stay practice as well. It's really helped, as thewe was a while I was almost afraid to play soccer with her after a particularly vigourous nip to my upper arm (while I was standing). We do still play tug with her ball, but if i see she's over aroused, I take it, she sits, and then we wait a few seconds to calm down, and I throw it.
 

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Misha definitely is into the growly play. One of his favorite games is to take an object and bring it to you, but growl at you when you reach for it and then duck away. Then he'll bring it closer and repeat. If he can tug with the item he'll do that. He likes to act super serious and upset when you try to touch it. But he's 100% joking and never actually tries to bite when he does it. If it's an item like a rock that he wants me to throw, I can just hold my hand out and eventually he'll give in and just drop it in my hand. Hopefully Peggy will cease with the biting when she outgrows the mouthy stage. It sounds like she's just getting over aroused.
 

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Annie's a very high drive poodle. She did lots of teeth on skin when playing fetch, or, worse, playing soccer ball. I've started to enforce "you must SIT" to get this back. And then we do lots of stay practice as well. It's really helped, as thewe was a while I was almost afraid to play soccer with her after a particularly vigourous nip to my upper arm (while I was standing). We do still play tug with her ball, but if i see she's over aroused, I take it, she sits, and then we wait a few seconds to calm down, and I throw it.
Ohhh the upper arm nip! Our foster GSD was the master. ? I'm glad Peggy hasn't figured that one out yet.

Annie and Peggy do sound similar. I used to think Peggy was high-drive, but she's such a cuddly slug so much of the time, it's hard to say. She definitely requires a specific type of handler, though. She responds best to steady energy. She's been a great teacher for us.

I'll work on building more calming moments into her games of fetch. It's easy to get into a good groove and miss the signs that she's approaching her threshold.
 

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Misha definitely is into the growly play. One of his favorite games is to take an object and bring it to you, but growl at you when you reach for it and then duck away. Then he'll bring it closer and repeat. If he can tug with the item he'll do that. He likes to act super serious and upset when you try to touch it. But he's 100% joking and never actually tries to bite when he does it. If it's an item like a rock that he wants me to throw, I can just hold my hand out and eventually he'll give in and just drop it in my hand. Hopefully Peggy will cease with the biting when she outgrows the mouthy stage. It sounds like she's just getting over aroused.
It's hard when you see a huge leap forward and then bad behaviours re-emerge or (worse!) start appearing for the first time. I was really enjoying this mature new Peggy of ours.

You've been good at reminding me it's a journey. Thank you :)

And thanks for sharing Misha stories with me. He's such a character. I love getting to know all the poodle forum poodles.
 

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I think it's a good idea for the game to be over. It's not while playing fetch, but Sisko used to mouth/go for my hands when I'd play tug with him. I'd say either no or ah and stopped playing with him and now he's more careful.
 

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My neighbour's terrier would snatch for the ball - the neighbour ended up needing stitches a couple of times. I didn't, as I simply refused to play if the dog made the smallest attempt to grab. I think it took about three sessions, and then she would wait a few feet away while I picked up the ball and threw it. She still grabbed at it when playing with her own human, though...

I think sitting or otherwise waiting is an essential skill for a ball or frisbee mad dog - grabbing can be dangerous, especially so if they ask someone else to throw it and accidentally bite them.
 

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My neighbour's terrier would snatch for the ball - the neighbour ended up needing stitches a couple of times. I didn't, as I simply refused to play if the dog made the smallest attempt to grab. I think it took about three sessions, and then she would wait a few feet away while I picked up the ball and threw it. She still grabbed at it when playing with her own human, though...

I think sitting or otherwise waiting is an essential skill for a ball or frisbee mad dog - grabbing can be dangerous, especially so if they ask someone else to throw it and accidentally bite them.
Peggy does learn quickly, for better or for worse! Obviously somewhere along the way we turned lunging for the frisbee into its own little game. Definitely not worth getting stitches over, so perhaps the high-value frisbees should be put away for a bit while we work on manners with a boring old tennis ball.

My husband will be so sad, as he recently researched and purchased some top rated dog frisbees. Their shared enthusiasm for the sport is very cute. :)
 

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Stumbled upon this tonight and it's a perspective I never considered! I always thought of fetch as a stress-burner:


Key takeaway:

“If you engage in activities that cause your dog to become aroused, and therefore stressed, every day, your dog will always have high levels of stress hormones in his bloodstream. High arousal becomes the new norm. I’m often called in to work with dogs who have trouble controlling themselves or calming down. These dogs are often reactive and hypervigilant. Exercise that amps your dog up is okay in moderation but allowing your dog to engage in it every day will likely do more harm than good. This is highly individual but is most commonly seen with ball or Frisbee-obsessed dogs playing fetch every day.”

Luckily, Peggy is still more obsessed with my husband than with frisbees. But a game of frisbee is such an easy way for him to pop out during a busy workday and give her some quick exercise, I can see how we might be inadvertently creating a monster.

Good to remember that behaviours we see as positive (excitement!) are not always so pleasant for our poodles.
 

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Renn loves to play fetch. Our rule is you sit, I say ready and throw/and say fetch. Off he goes, when he returns I say drop it. he does, and I have a 2nd ball in my hand, sit, ready/ fetch as I throw it. He he grabs a ball on his own, he is on his own and doesn't get to play with me. Renn was a very mouthy puppy, I have many torn shirts, lol b ut it was because he played with his mouth open . While he will play this way with another dog, he never ever puts his mouth on me. When he plays with the boxer I have to remind him at times..no biting...if he continues to play roughly, game over. Thats just how we roll.
 

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Renn loves to play fetch. Our rule is you sit, I say ready and throw/and say fetch. Off he goes, when he returns I say drop it. he does, and I have a 2nd ball in my hand, sit, ready/ fetch as I throw it. He he grabs a ball on his own, he is on his own and doesn't get to play with me. Renn was a very mouthy puppy, I have many torn shirts, lol b ut it was because he played with his mouth open . While he will play this way with another dog, he never ever puts his mouth on me. When he plays with the boxer I have to remind him at times..no biting...if he continues to play roughly, game over. Thats just how we roll.
This is the method we typically use (two frisbees, the second released only after the first is dropped ) but we'd been trying to transition to just one. I think it's been frustrating her. It can be hard to communicate a change of rules.
 

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Raffi went through that for a bit. We play fetch most mornings while waiting for the school bus. He was getting so excited about the ball moving, he didn't growl but would jump at the ball when we reached for it. Thankfully we had already instituted a 'sit and wait before I throw' policy, so it was fairly simple to expand that to 'sit and wait for me to pick up and throw'. Somehow my 10 year old daughter has him lying down before she picks it up!
 

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Raffi went through that for a bit. We play fetch most mornings while waiting for the school bus. He was getting so excited about the ball moving, he didn't growl but would jump at the ball when we reached for it. Thankfully we had already instituted a 'sit and wait before I throw' policy, so it was fairly simple to expand that to 'sit and wait for me to pick up and throw'. Somehow my 10 year old daughter has him lying down before she picks it up!
Sounds like I need to borrow your daughter for a few days!!

I think the growl makes Peggy sound more threatening than she actually is. She does it a lot when she plays in the yard. It's almost like that grunt that tennis players do.

She had a play date yesterday with some other well-socialized dogs at our trainer's place, and she was the only one that sounded like that. So embarrassing! I'm lucky she doesn't LOOK ferocious.
 
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