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VERY bitey puppy- how to handle?

(15 Posts)
hellymelly Wed 12-Feb-14 14:37:05

She is just 13 weeks, a terrier. My third puppy, but the previous two didn't do this, so I've not had to tackle it before. Basically she is terribly bitey. Most of it in the normal mouthy puppy way, she bites mildly on my hands in the morning when she first sees me, in an affectionate way, but she also bites in a more worrying way when I have to take anything out of her mouth (often, as she is eating anything and everything, in the garden and everywhere else), or when she is frustrated at being restrained or picked up. (If she wants to get down to reach a dog or a toy). Of course she is very tiny, but I don't want this to progress to snappy terrier stuff as she gets bigger. I've never had a bitch before, don't know if this is partly that or just her own temperment. I have bought a few books and am ploughing through them, that and just the way I trained my two other dogs, lots of rewards and distraction. She will sit on command and waits quietly sitting for her food, she seems to learn quickly, I think she is a clever dog, but my firm "NO" when she bites, sometimes putting her into her crate to calm down (it is worse when she is hyped up) isn't working at all. She has pretty much stopped biting feet, but the other biting isn't lessening. I think she does it with DH rather more than me. All words from you wise women wlecome.

Snugglepiggy Wed 12-Feb-14 18:10:19

Not sure if this would be acceptable to the experts but one of our pups - yes we have two mad things that we are ! - was much nippier than the other to start and still both can be when very excited.But I hold him gently but firmly at the back of his neck and slightly push his head down - not roughly just gently and firmly - and make a sort of growling noise to show him I am displeased.Similar to what their mums would do to keep them in check?Read it somewhere or breeder may have told me ,can't remember?Seems to have got the message through and only had to do it several times.Hasten to add he gets loads of kisses and cuddles too.They both do as they are generally lovely natured puppies, but agree it's a habit I am keen to break before those teeth get bigger and stronger.

nuttymutty1 Wed 12-Feb-14 19:05:55

Puppies do not have hands, so they explore with their teeth and mouth, It is how they learn things. It is normal behaviour. Puppies need to bite and need to play (but before you all think I am crazy) there is a correct way to do it

I would encourage the use of tug toys, encourage the puppy to bite and tug on the toy. This is good in two ways, it encourages the dog to play with you, bond with you and makes everything from recall to basic training so much easier.

It also shows the dog what he can bite- he only ever bites the tuggy toy make sure that it is long enough so he will not grab at your hand by mistake. Do not leave these toys lying around but have them strategical placed around your house so you can have a game at any time.

Using tuggy toys you can teach impulse control, teach the dog to leave, and that all fun things happen around you.

Never every play with your puppy unless you are playing with the tug toy. You will notice very quickly that you will have no more randon bite attacks on you if you play tuggy regularly. Let the dog win the tuggy and you will start to see that the dog will return to you for you to make it more fun.

Re the removing items from the puppy the best approach to take is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If he does get hold of something than exchange it for something better like a treat and make a note to ensure he can not get hold of things again.

NigellasGuest Wed 12-Feb-14 20:04:02

nuttymutty would that method of playing tuggy help prevent my 5 month old cocker spaniel from randomly sinking his teeth into my arm when he gets excited?

Hellymelly I do the crate thing for calming down but I don't know if he associates it with the requirement to stop biting..

nuttymutty1 Wed 12-Feb-14 20:48:46

Yep NigelasGuest it will work really well with a spaniel. You can get some fantastic soft sheep skin tuggies that they love or alternatively just use a knotted bit of fleece.

hellymelly Wed 12-Feb-14 23:53:33

I have lots of tuggy type toys, we do play tug games mainly, as she isn't all that fussed about balls and neither were my prior terriers, they all liked to play tuggy. So I've been playing tug with her a lot. She gets bored with a toy very very quickly though. I don't mind all the normal puppy nibblyness, the worrying time with her biting is that she nips when picked up if there is something else she is trying to do (e.g. earlier she was eating part of the floor, so I had to pick her up to check her mouth and see what was happening, she was under the sofa so i pulled her out very gently, she nipped me. Ditto when I restrained her from ripping up DDs tutu!!) And if she is having her feet dried (our garden is like the Somme) then she gets cross/frustrated, wriggles, and loudly protests while nipping. This is when she is better with me than DH, even though we both give her a treat if she doesn't nip during the de-mudding. I will definitely do the "exchange" thing when I have to get something out of her mouth, of course she eats everything , today she has tried to eat coal from the fireplace, a splintery bit of floorboard, a little barbie hairbrush, some bubble wrap and a screw dropped by the plumber, among other things. She nips me now when I look in her mouth to check for debris. Really want to sort it as we have small children visiting regularly and mine are 6 and 9, and she is a fab little dog who learns quickly and is great fun, she will be a wonderful dog for us but snappy terriers are a nightmare. I will offer her an exchage tomorrow when I want something from her, today I have given her a treat each time but after rather than during, the removal of dangerous items... How can one hammer home to a puppythe message that biting people is never ok? I told off my last dog once when he curled his lip at me over something, and I made a loud noise by bashing a rolled up newspaper against a chair -breeders advice at the time- I am not sure if that is a good thing to do or not. He didn't like the noise. He was not a snappy sort of a dog at all . And I don't want to frighten my puppy, but should I try something along snugglepiggy's lines to emphasise the no biting people rule? What is the best way to respond when she does nip?

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 13-Feb-14 07:44:50

I do the squealing. So puppy bites I squeal sharply and withdraw myself then reward puppy with attention for nice gentle attention. I don't like tug games and have seen them lead to undesirable trouser tugging behaviour.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Thu 13-Feb-14 07:53:56

You've just taken me back to when my devil dog spaniel was a pup. He was sooo cute, I've almost forgotten the biting.

We did find (and keep) some of his puppy teeth as a keepsake.

I've got nothing useful to add, just rambling down memory lane grin

cashewfrenzy Thu 13-Feb-14 08:03:54

If your dog nips then you need to review what is going on. As long as these situations keep arising and she keeps doing it she is learning that biting you is an effective way of stopping something undesirable from happening.

I think you need to focus on teaching her to be handled and to enjoy it. For example, if you want her to learn to be dried after being outside you need a tube of Primula and another adult and you gradually and gently dry her off while she enjoys a bit of cheese from the tube. Until she is confident with this handling you do as little as possible of actual drying - just pop her in the crate on a towel for ten minutes with a Kong to keep her busy.

Work long and hard on teaching her to leave it, and never ever remove anything from her mouth without exchanging it for something better. You need to avoid avoid avoid situations which are likely to lead to her biting (eg try not to pick her up and if you do, treat her) because every time she's in a situation where she feels the need to bite it is reinforcing to her that biting is effective.

Otherwise nutty's advice is sound - these dogs benefit from being redirected onto something more fun.

fanoftheinvisibleman Thu 13-Feb-14 08:44:44

Agree with the redirecting advice you have been given, it worked for us along with stopping play sessions when he got bitey.

But I just wanted to post to say a bitey terrier pup does not equal a snappy adult terrier. My BT was dreadful at that age and ripped all our clothes. We were consistant and he is now 18 months old and really gentle.

hellymelly Thu 13-Feb-14 11:55:37

Tube of primula, good idea, will get some today. She basically gets frustrated and over excited and won't wait for anything, so although she is a cuddly puppy and happy to be handled or picked up most of the time, she gets annoyed if she is being restrained when she wants to be down doing something else. I always carry on with whatever I am doing though, drying her feet or whatever, I never allow the biteyness to achieve her aim of getting free to pursue her aims. I will really focus on rewarding her during any handling that she is tricky about.
Also glad to hear that your BT fanoftheinvisibleman is very gentle now.

cashewfrenzy Thu 13-Feb-14 13:24:55

Just take care that you are not carrying on doing something she dislikes in spite of her attempts warn you off. That will only teach her to escalate her efforts to stop you.

Instead focus on actually teaching her to tolerate these things by reinforcing and reinforcing and reinforcing. If you set her up for success by not forcing unwanted handling on her you will progress more quickly smile

hellymelly Fri 14-Feb-14 11:47:00

Well she does dislike paw drying, yes. So that is a good point cashew. She needs them mopped of the worst mud as her crate is upstairs from the garden and kitchen, and our garden is unbelievable muddy at the moment. I am not bothered by a bit of mud normally, but if I didn't wipe her paws the filth would be everywhere as her paws are quite hairy too. I do it very quickly and praise her the whole time and then give a reward, less biting during paw drying yesterday and today since I took on board the comments here. She is a quick learner and we are teaching her "drop it" which she seems to be getting, then giving her a treat, hopefully that will help with all the things she tries to eat, although sometimes she gets something stuck, like the bubble wrap she found, and that needs removal. Really helpful to have the advice from you all, as although i have loads of dog experience I haven't dealt with this before. Also one does get rusty with training skills, its 15 years since my last puppy, and methods have shifted as understanding of dogs improves. I need to do lots of recall work with her too, as with all terriers that is a problem. I grew up with a beagle and have had terriers for 25 years so I am at least used to independant dogs with terrible recall!

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 14-Feb-14 12:03:49

Yeah, can't help you terrier is an attention whore with a typical terrier I'll do what I want attitude so I am VERY selective about where he goes off. It is either the back of beyond or in large groups of tolerant dogs (and tolerant owners who don't shout at me for pawprints blush)

hellymelly Fri 07-Mar-14 17:07:44

Still biting, she is 16 weeks now, but I think it has improved slightly. It has been tricky as she has been picked up a lot, as she has a lame back leg and the vet wants her to rest as much as possible. I am not letting her do stairs if I can avoid it, so I have to pick her up to take her out to the garden, or upstairs with me. She tends to get nibbly then, but i haven't been consistent with rewards, as sometimes the treats are out of sight and I just need to get her out quickly to wee or whatever, so that is my fault. I've re-read the thread to go over the points again, and it has prompted me to be far more organised about having a treat in hand when I have to pick her up.
She is really delighted to see me in the mornings (DH is first down, so I am not the one who lets her out of her crate), but other than that not madly affectionate, certainly not as waggy tailed with me as my other dogs- is this a worry? <paranoid that puppy doesn't like me>

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