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Really struggling with puppy, please help

(20 Posts)
Galaxy84 Tue 17-Jun-14 16:30:13

I hope someone can help as i am getting really upset by my gorgeous puppy. Sorry this is going to be long.

He is a miniature schnauzer and is 9.5 weeks old.

We got him at 7.5 weeks as mum couldn't cope with her 8 puppies and so they were weaned early. My husband assured me this would be fine (he grew up with dogs), however as a first time dog owner (and big worrier) I am anxious that this wasn't a good start in life for the puppies.

The major issue I am having with him are his constant biting, growling and snapping at my hands, face, feet and clothing. I have been making a sharp 'ah' noise when he bites me, followed by a firm 'no' if he continues and finally if he still persists i try to slowly disengage his mouth and leave the room.

I know he is only playing but sometimes he sounds really aggressive and when he refuses to let go of my skin, or clothing, and tugs really hard, i just don't know what to do. When the above doesn't work i tend to just freeze or go limp, but he can go on for ages tugging, and my hands just can't take it anymore. I don't even want to get on the floor to play or stroke him anymore....my hands are sore!

It has gotten worse this week and now even when i go to praise him for good behaviours (i.e. playing with his toys, not biting the curtains when i make the 'ah' noise) with a stroke he is snapping at me, or if i need to pick him up to take him to and from the garden. The growling and tugging have gotten much worse too.

The home environment is that I am home all day and DH is out at work from 7-7 and sometimes later. He sleeps in a crate overnight, but allowed to roam the lounge during the day, but when he naps i move him back to his crate. He has four meals (kibble) at 7, 11, 3 and 7, taken in his crate. He has about ten different toys that i rotate a couple at a time, but he seems to get bored of them quickly. He spends at least an hour across the day playing in the garden with my supervision. I also try to train him and so far he can 'sit' and we are working on 'paw', and his house training is really coming along with the help of the crate.

Also, before i give him a treat for doing well, i will wait for him to stop chewing my hand containing the treat.

It's really starting to upset me, and his last jab isn't until 13 weeks so puppy classes are a while off.

Lilcamper Tue 17-Jun-14 16:59:39

Biting is a normal puppy behaviour. Puppies investigate the world through their mouths. If it is within reach, it will probably be picked up and chewed! If it is exciting and moves fast it will definitely get bitten. Dogs play by using their mouths because they don’t have hands.

Puppies need to bite and they need to play. What he/she is doing is simply trying to elicit play. Play is by far the best way to bond with your pup and is a great way to reward him during training.

Use tug toys that he can bite. Old knotted towels or a favourite toy with string attached. Unwanted dressing gown cords are ideal. You need to encourage him to bite one end of the toy whilst you hold the other end. Then you can have a great game together without getting bitten.

Ensure your tug toys are long enough and soft enough for your puppy to happily bite. Your toy should touch the floor whilst you are holding the other end. This allows you to animate the toy and keep the game low to the ground and not encourage jumping up. It also puts distance between teeth and hands.

Keep these interactive toys out of your pups reach whilst they are not being played with. It will keep them more novel which means the pup is more likely to want to bite and play with them when given the opportunity. Plant toys around the house and garden (out of puppies reach) so you have them easily accessible and as much as possible, take the game outside.

Rotate chew items that you leave on the floor to also keep them interesting.

Do not play with your puppy unless you have a toy for him to grab. Don't let anyone in the house roughhouse with him or roll about on the floor with him.

Start by animating the toy on the floor and saying 'getit' every time your pup grabs the toy. You hold on to the toy and let him grab it and shake it. Let go of the toy sometimes so that puppy is encouraged to come back to you to get you to start the game again.

Also teach a word for letting go. To do this you simply stop the game by putting a finger in pup's collar and keeping hold of the toy, release the pressure on the toy so that it becomes boring. As soon as pup lets go say 'thank you' and immediately invite him to grab it again with a 'getit'. He will quickly learn to let go when you stop playing in order for the game to start again and eventually the word 'thankyou' (or your word of choice) will become his cue to let go.

Once your pup is getting the idea of the game then you can start to add in a 'sit' 'are you ready' before the 'getit' and before you know it you have a dog sitting and waiting patiently for the game to start.

Lilcamper Tue 17-Jun-14 17:02:41

Also, if he is going for you, distract and redirect him onto an appropriate toy. Don't say 'no' or 'ah'.

Try and avoid trigger points like stroking when he is in a playful mood.

SpicyPear Tue 17-Jun-14 17:13:47

lilcamper's advice is excellent. Some puppies find the noises like the "ah" noise quite exciting and rewarding so it can encourage the behaviour. The "no" is meaningless to an excited puppy and again they may be finding the attention very rewarding.

It is tiresome but it is not aggression and with a persistent shark puppy you need to be diffusing the excitement rather than adding to it with noises.

In addition to the excellent advice, do you clicker train? Clicker training will focus your puppy's energy, just a few short sessions during the day helps.

If you Goggle Kikopup, she has some excellent training material about 'capturing calm'.

I have had two puppies in the last 18 months so I feel your pain smile. Personally, I would consider training the 'self control' commands initially rather than your standard 'paw' etc. Things such as 'wait', 'leave it', and a release command can really help with the self control when young smile

For example, you are holding a treat in your fist, puppy is absolutely trying their hardest to get to it, pawing, jumping, highly excited. The SECOND he/she stops physically trying to reach the treat and waits for you to offer it, you click and treat. Puppy is learning some self control.

Good luck

Galaxy84 Tue 17-Jun-14 18:51:26

Thank you for the advice. I am becoming really overwhelmed by him and also all the differing opinions i read online about puppy training.

Every page i read seems to suggest a different method. I came across the 'ah', 'no' and ignore method on numerous sites, so have been doing that for the last two weeks, but he's become unresponsive to it lately...although he does understand it sometimes and is always sitting calmly waiting when i rejoin him, but it doesn't last.

Should i be consistent or move onto a reward method? I did read that by giving him a toy to distract him from chewing me, it could be interpreted as a reward for chewing?

I just had a play with him with an old coat belt, and he went crazy for it. He did get distracted by my jeans a few times though, but i was able to distract him back to the belt.

When he was going for me just now as i walked to the toilet, i asked him to sit, which he did very nicely, so he does have self control and i will work on learning 'leave it' with him.

Does this mean that from now on i shouldn't sit on the floor to play with him anymore? I miss the early days when he would walk over and climb into my lap for a cuddle.

Also, i worry about his routine. I don't know how much time he should be spending sleeping, how much time playing alone, and how much time playing with me? The only thing i have set are his meal times.

Lilcamper Tue 17-Jun-14 19:15:55

Galaxy join 'dog training advice and support ' on Facebook. Free, up to date advice from experienced and qualified professionals. The group was set up to counter all the conflicting advice.

Galaxy84 Tue 17-Jun-14 19:34:02

Thank you, Lil, i will sign up.

I just remembered the name of the method i was trying to follow - bite inhibition...basically he has to learn to bite softly. But isn't there a way that hurts me less!?

Lilcamper Tue 17-Jun-14 19:37:11

Follow my long post above,that will teach bite inhibition. He is a normal puppy doing normal puppy stuff. Don't take it personally.

Galaxy84 Tue 17-Jun-14 20:09:28

Sorry if i'm just not getting it, i am really frazzled, but in your previous post i read it that i should just play with pup from a distance, so my hands never come into contact with puppy? Whereas, from my research, it seems as though bite inhibition means letting your puppy mouth you until it gets too rough, and then the game stops?

Need...more....sleep....

affafantoosh Tue 17-Jun-14 20:10:40

www.apbc.org.uk/info/APBC_Behaviour_Advice_Information_Sheets

Some of the above advice sheets are better than others but the basic advice within is sound. There are also some more general articles on the site which are interesting. The APBC is a trustworthy source.

Lilcamper's suggestion of the Dog Training Advice and Support Facebook group is also brilliant - it's a no-nonsense group and please take their advice on board, even if it is a copy-and-paste - these puppy basics are universal and the methods of managing these issues work for all puppies.

Good luck smile

affafantoosh Tue 17-Jun-14 20:13:26

Galaxy, you do not want the puppy to mouth you at all, even gently - so allowing him to get it out of his system (after all, it is a normal and natural behaviour for puppies) on appropriate toys saves him learning that it's OK to mouth your hand. It will happen of course, by accident, but if you make it unrewarding by ignoring him and withdrawing attention/ending the game he will quickly realise that mouthing toys is much more fun, and he will expend his mouthy energies on them instead of you. smile

The first few weeks with a puppy are really overwhelming. I got confuddled with all the different advice out there and forgot to enjoy ddog1 for a while. DH went with the flow, played a bit, cuddled a bit, then ignored - he didn't feel the need to do it 'correctly' that I did.

If he's responding to you taking your attention away, giving him 'time out', then it's fine to try this too. All dogs are different, bit like kids, so that might work better for you. He'll soon figure that the fun stops when he becomes a land shark. It worked well for ddog1 too, ddog2 never mouthed at all, even now doesn't know how to play tug smile

The biting phase will stop eventually, honest. Is it possible that he's overstimulated? Puppies go a bit manic when over tired.

I found relaxing and trying to enjoy ddog1 made things a lot easier. I focussed on what I enjoyed doing, which was training him, and carrying him about for socialisation.

Your local vet might do puppy parties, where the pups don't need to be vaccinated

Galaxy84 Thu 19-Jun-14 21:38:35

Thank you for all the feedback. His bad moments are mostly when I think he is over stimulated or tired. We still don't have a good routine for sleeping and exercise. I can't wait to be able to walk him little distances.

One more query. The breeder had him on royal Canin puppy food, which we've continued, but I'm wondering if there is a better food out there?

Lilcamper Fri 20-Jun-14 11:26:07
fishfingerSarnies Mon 23-Jun-14 14:11:01

It sounds like he needs to be socialising with other dogs, pups learn a lot from their litter mates if they've been split up early you pup might need some rough and tumble with another dog who will teach it what's acceptable and what's not. Do you have any friends with dogs that are up to date with jabs and could come over for a play?

fishfingerSarnies Mon 23-Jun-14 14:11:41

It sounds like he needs to be socialising with other dogs, pups learn a lot from their litter mates if they've been split up early you pup might need some rough and tumble with another dog who will teach it what's acceptable and what's not. Do you have any friends with dogs that are up to date with jabs and could come over for a play?

fishfingerSarnies Mon 23-Jun-14 14:11:41

It sounds like he needs to be socialising with other dogs, pups learn a lot from their litter mates if they've been split up early you pup might need some rough and tumble with another dog who will teach it what's acceptable and what's not. Do you have any friends with dogs that are up to date with jabs and could come over for a play?

Galaxy84 Fri 27-Jun-14 18:55:55

Thanks, Fish. We are starting puppy classes on Wednesday.

He's getting the hang of the 'leave it' command on an old coat belt, one of his dog blankets, and a soft toy i have tied a string too so my hands don't go near him during play.

However, he gets distracted by my legs moving as i animate the toy for him and then goes for my legs instead. I yell 'AH' and then say 'no bite' and go to leave the area to ignore him, but the exit is a fair few paces away in both the garden or the living area, and he runs after me catching his teeth in my trousers. I am worried it's going to hurt him or trip me up, but don't know how else to stop play? Standing still doesn't work either and it gets too painful with his biting.

I have taken to wearing knee high boots after he drew blood from my calf through my jeans when i was sitting on the sofa the other night!

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