Poodle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I’m a newer member, so if this question or one similar has already been asked, please add a link to the forum in the comments!

My minipoo puppy is 17 weeks old, and he bites everything, of course, as puppies do. He’s also my first puppy, and I feel like each website I visit (when looking up how to train a puppy) says something different.

So the issue: he’s biting me to the point where it’s painful and tears the skin. I’ve read online that you’re supposed to yelp so he gets the message that it’s painful, but for me it doesn’t impact him or he thinks it’s a game. I’ve also tried timeouts, where I’ll leave him alone for a bit, but so far nothing has changed this behaviour. He usually tends to bite me while playing with a toy, after he’s just woken up, seemingly for attention, or when he attacks my pant legs while walking. He does occasionally have non-painful biting, and even when he does bite painfully I don’t think he has ill intention as it’s not with a growl or anything - I’m just worried about him continuing this behaviour with adult teeth.

But: he seems to hate the vet. The first time I took him for his second vaccines he yelped when she touched his paws and she informed me I should play with his paws so he gets comfortable to people touching them… I actually did know this already and whenever I (or another person in my family) touches his paws he’s fine. He also really didn’t like the vaccines and yelped during those too. When we went the second time he immediately became anxious upon seeing the vet and actually bit the vet when she was checking him. I volunteered to hold him for the rest of the session and he was fine, but the vet was understandably quite shocked. He hasn’t shown this behaviour to anyone else, and the other people in my family can’t believe this cuddle-bug would bite the vet. Again, no growls, but he’s clearly extremely anxious at the vet, although that obviously doesn’t excuse biting behaviour.

Am I training or disciplining incorrectly? Is the biting at the vet a sign of aggression in the future? How do I fix this behaviour?

Thanks for reading everything and I’m looking forward to the responses!


Here he is, because sharing puppy photos is the best. Dog Dog breed Carnivore Toy Companion dog
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
253 Posts
Rusty was very bitey with me. I just froze and became as boring as possible and offered him something else to chew on.

He is 7 months old now and a lot less bitey but still LOVES to chew gently on my hand if allowed.

I am sure you will get some great tips there is so much knowledge on this forum.

Your pup is utterly lovely!

Dog Water dog Plant Carnivore Grass
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,337 Posts
Well I'm sure others on here will give you advise but how are you training him? He also should be going to the groomer at least every 4- weeks at this stage to learn proper grooming behavior, even if you want to keep him fluffy. Its just a good thing to do. I do it with mine. The get a face, feet ,and fanny. I handle their feet every day and use a dermal on their nails. I also crate train, however with my recent rescue pup I haven't..he is just so chill and lies around and is not a chewer (as of yet). I get those puzzle sticks that are all twisted and he will chew on those. I would get him into puppy school or at least put him on leash and teach him the basics, sit, down, shake. Get him some puzzle toys and play some mind games to keep him busy. Also keep in mind that tired pups get very busy n bite and nap in crate of pen may be helpful. I'm sure others can give you some more ideas. Also I'd take him to the vet once a week if vet will allow it, just to get a treat or get weighed, its helpful for him to learn the vet office isn't a bad place. Good luck with your pup, he is adorable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,839 Posts
Your vet has the option to have a "fear free" visit to help puppies associate good experiences with the clinic. It's free. It only takes ~5 minutes. You basically drop the puppy off, the the tech will walk puppy around the clinic, everyone gives him love and praise and treats, he gets to say hi to the other dogs there, then he's right back outside in the car with you. No pricks no probing. Just good things.

Ideally if you can preplan and schedule one fear free visit before every necessary appt for vaccines or w/e then it should greatly help puppy like going to the vet.
 

·
Registered
Elroy: Standard Poodle
Joined
·
2,049 Posts
Hand feed him his meals, or at least some of them. If he bites you hard, try not to pull away or make any "tempting" fast movements. Just freeze and tell him "No Biting", or similar. After he let's go, reward him with the food. If he doesn't bite you, keep feeding him. He'll be learning to use a "soft mouth" this way. Keep feeding this way until you feel he's learned to "soft mouth" with you (and your family). Playing with other puppies helps them to learn soft mouthing too. Did he have others to play with in his litter? Did his breeder help to socialize him? You can't change the past, but it could explain his stronger biting if he wasn't.
I would think your vet could provide some tips on him biting her. Ask her what she recommends. She experienced the behavior and, I would think, should understand more about the nature of it. Was it aggressive or playful? As others have said, try to soften the harsh experience at the vet. You definitely need to get this under control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
220 Posts
So, now would be a wonderful time to look into group training classes with an accredited trainer/behaviorist. Or if you're unsure of group classes because of COVID, one-on-one sessions. It would be highly beneficial to have someone with the experience/education in behavior/modification evaluate puppy in person and see what they think/recommend based on the in person experiences. There may be behaviors, signals, and other signs that you don't recognize (or relay to us accurately) that someone in person would notice and be like "hey, i know what this is and how to fix it".

We can only make educated guesses on why puppy is doing what they are doing, and without really knowing for sure the CAUSE it's hard to really suggest any possible "cure".... there are many different ways to modify behavior, train, etc and it all varies based on the puppy's temperament, personality, and the cause of the unwanted behavior (IE fear, dominance, etc etc.) We can't see puppy's body language while they are nipping at home, or see puppy's responses to stimulation at the vet. We can't see human responses either. So.... we can tell you what worked for us but no guarantee it will work for you.

Limerick bit pretty hard the first few weeks at home. I had scratches on my ankles from his puppy teeth and dents in my hands. Poor Dublin was, and to a degree still is, covered in little scapes and scabs. Yelping doesn't work for all dogs - Limerick doesn't really care if i yelp when he's rough - but sometimes another noise like a hiss would. The point is to get puppy's attention so you can redirect. With Limerick is got better for a while but right now he's actively losing teeth so it's bad, again. This time less playing and more - ouchie, need to chew/bite to make the ouchie stop.

At this age a lot of hard biting is down to over stimulation, poor bite inhibition, and teething. I manage it by recognizing signs of overestimation so i can call a time out as needed. I redirect to a favorite toy or a toy he doesn't get to play with all the time - i have toys in the freezer specifically for teething and when he gets really riled and bite-y i pull those out for him. I've also increased his exercise amount so he's more drained, introduced a flirt pole since he seems to really like chase games, and we do training sessions several times a day.

A trainer/behaviorist may have more/better suggestions. As for the vet... some dogs are more sensitive to ouchies and different personalities/temperaments mean they respond differently. Your dog appears to have a more sensitive temperament in that they remember the ouch and they lash out to avoid it. That IS something you want to get a handle on right away, because yes it CAN escalate to anything they determine they want to avoid even if it isn't something that actually hurts (such as grooming.) Good thing is, it's still early enough to work with puppy on this.

Note: this is also a good time to start bringing puppy to a groomer who can start to desensitize them to strangers touching feet, face, and other body parts. Doing it at home is a good start but puppy also needs to get used to OTHER people (not friends/family) doing it as well. Perhaps once a trainer has evaluated you can start looking into finding a groomer as well? Maybe the trainer you find can recommend one.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,646 Posts
You have already gotten great advice here so I will only comment on the things I think are super important.

Yelping when a puppy lands a bite in my experience only seems to get more excitement so I second the be a boring tree approach when a puppy gets over excited. Also usually since puppy teeth are super sharp any effort on your part to pull your hand away is going to make damage worse even if puppy bite pressure is low. Try not to yank your hand or other body part away. I actually think most puppies have decent bite inhibition by the time they leave their littermates and attribute most puppy bite damage to being over excited. Stopping play for a little quiet time can help reduce this also.

As to the vet and by extension groomer I also would recommend fun social visits. The vet doesn;t necessareily have to give time over for this but hopefully you can just take puppy into lobby and hang around and have staff say hello and give treats. You can ask the groomer to allow a similar visit or two and maybe just have a light FFT trim the first few times to get puppy used to sounds of dryers and clippers along with the presence of other dogs.

I also cannot tell you how important I think it is to getting pups used to having hands all over them. We still play touch games with each dog even though puppy life is long behind them. BF and Lily had a rousing round of what we call "Lily Bop" last night after dinner. We were all on the sofa and BF starting giving Lily body taps, mouth touches, catch your ears and such. She rolled around in glee the whole time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Rusty was very bitey with me. I just froze and became as boring as possible and offered him something else to chew on.

He is 7 months old now and a lot less bitey but still LOVES to chew gently on my hand if allowed.

I am sure you will get some great tips there is so much knowledge on this forum.

Your pup is utterly lovely!

View attachment 482493
Aww, so is your pup! I definitely need to remember to have something on hand to redirect him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I'm sure others on here will give you advise but how are you training him? He also should be going to the groomer at least every 4- weeks at this stage to learn proper grooming behavior, even if you want to keep him fluffy. Its just a good thing to do. I do it with mine. The get a face, feet ,and fanny. I handle their feet every day and use a dermal on their nails. I also crate train, however with my recent rescue pup I haven't..he is just so chill and lies around and is not a chewer (as of yet). I get those puzzle sticks that are all twisted and he will chew on those. I would get him into puppy school or at least put him on leash and teach him the basics, sit, down, shake. Get him some puzzle toys and play some mind games to keep him busy. Also keep in mind that tired pups get very busy n bite and nap in crate of pen may be helpful. I'm sure others can give you some more ideas. Also I'd take him to the vet once a week if vet will allow it, just to get a treat or get weighed, its helpful for him to learn the vet office isn't a bad place. Good luck with your pup, he is adorable.
Oops, my training question was specifically towards my discipline to reduce his biting behaviour. But also thanks for the other advice! I just booked him in to see a groomer next week, and I’ve been thinking of buying a muzzle (per the suggestion of the vet following the biting incident) since I really don’t want want him to bite the groomer. I’ve been trimming the fur around his eyes at home and while he initially hated it, he’s gotten bounds better which is reassuring. Crate training is definitely a life saver. Timeout, if his biting is really bad, means putting him in his run/crate area. I’ve trained him all the basic commands and he’s amazing on leash (I live in an apartment so that’s somewhat mandatory), but I think I may still consider classes after reading the other comments re the biting behaviour. I definitely need to look into the vet visits. Thanks for your advice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
996 Posts
For a puppy, high pitched voices mean play. A low pitched "knock it off!" with a hand placed over the muzzle works much better. Just for a couple of moments and then play resumes. If the puppy keeps biting, get up and leave or pick the puppy up and deposit him in another room (or in his crate) and close the door. Again, only for a minute or so.

Always remember you are not punishing the puppy, you are correcting a behavior. Don't get mad, be firm and consistent.

For the vet, try to stop by the vet's office as many times as they will let you for fear free visits. Also get the puppy used to many different people touching him all over, including paws, in as many different places (not just at home) as possible.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,646 Posts
If you choose to try a muzzle please make sure you invest proper training in having him accept the muzzle in a calm state. Otherwise you will develop a fearful and aggressive defense towards you putting it on. All of our dogs accept (did accept) muzzles. I have a muzzle properly sized for each dog in my canine first aid kit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: oodlypoodly

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your vet has the option to have a "fear free" visit to help puppies associate good experiences with the clinic. It's free. It only takes ~5 minutes. You basically drop the puppy off, the the tech will walk puppy around the clinic, everyone gives him love and praise and treats, he gets to say hi to the other dogs there, then he's right back outside in the car with you. No pricks no probing. Just good things.

Ideally if you can preplan and schedule one fear free visit before every necessary appt for vaccines or w/e then it should greatly help puppy like going to the vet.
Ooh, I definitely need fo ask his vet about this. That would be amazing for sure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hand feed him his meals, or at least some of them. If he bites you hard, try not to pull away or make any "tempting" fast movements. Just freeze and tell him "No Biting", or similar. After he let's go, reward him with the food. If he doesn't bite you, keep feeding him. He'll be learning to use a "soft mouth" this way. Keep feeding this way until you feel he's learned to "soft mouth" with you (and your family). Playing with other puppies helps them to learn soft mouthing too. Did he have others to play with in his litter? Did his breeder help to socialize him? You can't change the past, but it could explain his stronger biting if he wasn't.
I would think your vet could provide some tips on him biting her. Ask her what she recommends. She experienced the behavior and, I would think, should understand more about the nature of it. Was it aggressive or playful? As others have said, try to soften the harsh experience at the vet. You definitely need to get this under control.
When I picked him up, he was the last of his litter and I didn’t realize the right questions to ask, so limited information on that front unfortunately. Vet suggested a muzzle, so may look into that. I think I will try the feeding method, but he normally takes treats extremely politely haha.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So, now would be a wonderful time to look into group training classes with an accredited trainer/behaviorist. Or if you're unsure of group classes because of COVID, one-on-one sessions. It would be highly beneficial to have someone with the experience/education in behavior/modification evaluate puppy in person and see what they think/recommend based on the in person experiences. There may be behaviors, signals, and other signs that you don't recognize (or relay to us accurately) that someone in person would notice and be like "hey, i know what this is and how to fix it".

We can only make educated guesses on why puppy is doing what they are doing, and without really knowing for sure the CAUSE it's hard to really suggest any possible "cure".... there are many different ways to modify behavior, train, etc and it all varies based on the puppy's temperament, personality, and the cause of the unwanted behavior (IE fear, dominance, etc etc.) We can't see puppy's body language while they are nipping at home, or see puppy's responses to stimulation at the vet. We can't see human responses either. So.... we can tell you what worked for us but no guarantee it will work for you.

Limerick bit pretty hard the first few weeks at home. I had scratches on my ankles from his puppy teeth and dents in my hands. Poor Dublin was, and to a degree still is, covered in little scapes and scabs. Yelping doesn't work for all dogs - Limerick doesn't really care if i yelp when he's rough - but sometimes another noise like a hiss would. The point is to get puppy's attention so you can redirect. With Limerick is got better for a while but right now he's actively losing teeth so it's bad, again. This time less playing and more - ouchie, need to chew/bite to make the ouchie stop.

At this age a lot of hard biting is down to over stimulation, poor bite inhibition, and teething. I manage it by recognizing signs of overestimation so i can call a time out as needed. I redirect to a favorite toy or a toy he doesn't get to play with all the time - i have toys in the freezer specifically for teething and when he gets really riled and bite-y i pull those out for him. I've also increased his exercise amount so he's more drained, introduced a flirt pole since he seems to really like chase games, and we do training sessions several times a day.

A trainer/behaviorist may have more/better suggestions. As for the vet... some dogs are more sensitive to ouchies and different personalities/temperaments mean they respond differently. Your dog appears to have a more sensitive temperament in that they remember the ouch and they lash out to avoid it. That IS something you want to get a handle on right away, because yes it CAN escalate to anything they determine they want to avoid even if it isn't something that actually hurts (such as grooming.) Good thing is, it's still early enough to work with puppy on this.

Note: this is also a good time to start bringing puppy to a groomer who can start to desensitize them to strangers touching feet, face, and other body parts. Doing it at home is a good start but puppy also needs to get used to OTHER people (not friends/family) doing it as well. Perhaps once a trainer has evaluated you can start looking into finding a groomer as well? Maybe the trainer you find can recommend one.
So many great suggestion in here, thank you! I’ll try the hiss method and I just tried clapping today and (while one handed of course) it did actually do the trick so I can safely remove myself from the situation to be a tree. What’s a flirt pole?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You have already gotten great advice here so I will only comment on the things I think are super important.

Yelping when a puppy lands a bite in my experience only seems to get more excitement so I second the be a boring tree approach when a puppy gets over excited. Also usually since puppy teeth are super sharp any effort on your part to pull your hand away is going to make damage worse even if puppy bite pressure is low. Try not to yank your hand or other body part away. I actually think most puppies have decent bite inhibition by the time they leave their littermates and attribute most puppy bite damage to being over excited. Stopping play for a little quiet time can help reduce this also.

As to the vet and by extension groomer I also would recommend fun social visits. The vet doesn;t necessareily have to give time over for this but hopefully you can just take puppy into lobby and hang around and have staff say hello and give treats. You can ask the groomer to allow a similar visit or two and maybe just have a light FFT trim the first few times to get puppy used to sounds of dryers and clippers along with the presence of other dogs.

I also cannot tell you how important I think it is to getting pups used to having hands all over them. We still play touch games with each dog even though puppy life is long behind them. BF and Lily had a rousing round of what we call "Lily Bop" last night after dinner. We were all on the sofa and BF starting giving Lily body taps, mouth touches, catch your ears and such. She rolled around in glee the whole time.
A few days ago I booked him in next weekend for a “puppy trim” which is supposed to get him used to everything as it is also his first session. I also warned of his potential behaviour, so I’m hoping it’ll go well. Lily Bop is adorable, I’ve got to create “Alfie Bop” then haha. I can totally imagine the “roll around in glee” awww. And yep, going to go full tree mode from here on. Thanks for the advice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,212 Posts
If tree doesn't work, or you find yourself being angry /frustrated - I found going to another room and shutting the puppy our for a while very helpful. I don't handle standing still while being bitten very well. Just 30s to a minute for both of us to calm down. I also found if I had to do this multiple times in a row, if probably meant over tired puppy - time for a nap. I learned to anticipate the times when puppy was bitey and pre-emptively schedule a nap (usually for both of us, lol).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,194 Posts
So the issue: he’s biting me to the point where it’s painful and tears the skin. I’ve read online that you’re supposed to yelp so he gets the message that it’s painful, but for me it doesn’t impact him or he thinks it’s a game. I’ve also tried timeouts, where I’ll leave him alone for a bit, but so far nothing has changed this behaviour. He usually tends to bite me while playing with a toy, after he’s just woken up, seemingly for attention, or when he attacks my pant legs while walking. He does occasionally have non-painful biting, and even when he does bite painfully I don’t think he has ill intention as it’s not with a growl or anything - I’m just worried about him continuing this behaviour with adult teeth.
Those puppy teeth are sharp; they aren’t called land sharks for no reason. Yelping sometimes can make a puppy more excited.

I have tons of toys and bully sticks. When my puppy came home I had stuff handy to stuff in my puppy’s mouth when he got mouthy. If puppy’s mouth is open and you pull your hand away you will get snagged in their teeth, take care. Pay attention to what your puppy is doing, if you see them starting to play bite you can avoid it By moving out of the way or putting a toy in their mouth.

Is your puppy getting enough sleep?

Try wearing leggings or pants close to your legs, wider pants have fabric flapping as you move and that movement is very attractive to puppies as a play toy. Have something in your hand so when puppy jumps up to grab your pants you can put a toy in their mouth before they grab your pants.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 94Magna_Tom

·
Registered
Joined
·
641 Posts
In the same vein as the hand feeding suggested by Tom, look up "It's Yer Choice". It basically lays out the approach to take with the hand feeding. Doing it this way not only encourages a gentle mouth, it also helps a puppy develop self control and the ability to be patient and wait calmly for things.
The Muzzle Up! Project is a good resource for muzzle training.
As far as the vet, my guess would be that your pup bit out of fear. There is something called "trigger stacking", which basically means that several smaller triggers can add up and cause a dog to react in a big way to something relatively small. In your puppy's case, this could be things like the car ride, being in a new place, the other animals in the building, being on the exam table, being touched by a stranger, being restrained...
Ideally you want to make positive associations to as many of these things as possible.
If you are on fb, check out the group Pandemic Puppy Raising Support Group. They have a whole section on body handling which would be really helpful alongside the happy visits to the vet.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,729 Posts
You mentioned this is your first puppy. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Peggy was not my first puppy, but I was on the phone looking for a trainer immediately after she growled during her first vet visit. I was out of my depth.

It took a few calls and emails to find the right fit, but once we did, I knew we were in excellent hands.

Following her guidance, we returned to the vet’s office for a “happy visit” with a vet who looked and spoke very differently from the first vet. He scattered treats on the floor for Peggy and began the visit down at her level. It went great. We’ve since returned multiple times to the original vet, and she and her staff marvel at how far Peggy has come.

We also attended puppy classes led by that trainer (very important for early socialization), followed by a couple of teen classes, and I am just so grateful for all she’s taught us.

She is KPA certified.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,337 Posts
Oops, my training question was specifically towards my discipline to reduce his biting behaviour. But also thanks for the other advice! I just booked him in to see a groomer next week, and I’ve been thinking of buying a muzzle (per the suggestion of the vet following the biting incident) since I really don’t want want him to bite the groomer. I’ve been trimming the fur around his eyes at home and while he initially hated it, he’s gotten bounds better which is reassuring. Crate training is definitely a life saver. Timeout, if his biting is really bad, means putting him in his run/crate area. I’ve trained him all the basic commands and he’s amazing on leash (I live in an apartment so that’s somewhat mandatory), but I think I may still consider classes after reading the other comments re the biting behaviour. I definitely need to look into the vet visits. Thanks for your advice!
I realized that but honestly all training goes together and will help with reducing the biting behavior. You are replacing one behavior with another behavior. I'm glad you got lots of advise. I'm sure it will all turn out great.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top