6 month old biting, lunging, attacking on walks

(99 Posts)
BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 15:45:27

We thought things had improved from the puppy biting phase. We worked with a trainer, who was excellent and we made some real progress.

But in the last few weeks she has got so much worse. Whenever we take her for a walk, both on and off lead, she will suddenly turn and jump, bite, pull and lunge at us biting. If we fold arms and turn our backs she bites bums and legs! Now she has adult teeth it is really painful. I am covered in bruises and she has drawn blood a few times.

She looks like a police dog hanging off our arms. The distraction and calming techniques-throwing treats on floor for her to sniff and find, isn't working.

Today I had to call DH to come and fetch us as I couldn't get anywhere, she was constantly jumping, biting, lunging.

We play games with her, do enrichment, but it doesn't seem to help.

Any suggestions?

OP’s posts: |
Nojeansplease Sun 09-Feb-20 16:48:55

Personally I think distractions treats are risky
We had a trainer tell us to give treats as a distraction whenever he barked
Frankly don’t think my puppy knows the difference between a distraction treat and a reward treat
So depending how you’re doing that and what your timings like it may be doing more harm (though I’m not a dog trainer! And you may mean you’re throwing treats on the walk before she lunges it’s not quite clear)

What is it you’re doing to prevent or stop any of this?

Are the treats good enough and high enough value?

Would you consider a muzzle to break the habit?

Is she getting enough exercise and stimulation
Is she definitely not teething anymore?
Does she have acceptable things that she can chew at home?

Can you give her something to hold - a really good toy or ball she doesn’t want to drop. Can’t bite if she’s holding her ball.

I’d also practice rewards for ‘four on the floor’ - presumably she jumps other places too not just on walks. So encourage her feet to stay planted.

Why do you think she’s doing it? Is she teething
Scared
Playing
Aggressive

I think that helps decide how you need to tackle it

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sun 09-Feb-20 17:08:37

Does she walk nicely for long enough stretches (even a couple of strides) for you to praise and reward? And praise and reward and praise and reward every few strides if she carries on walking nicely, until she if focused on you and you can slowly increase the interval.

Does she understand a sharp 'No!'? If she does, get that in just as the unwanted behaviour starts.

adaline Sun 09-Feb-20 17:23:39

Is she overstimulated? How long are her walks and does she get enough sleep and downtime? What food are you feeding?

All of those things can contribute to poor behaviour. Mine is two and his behaviour still noticeably goes downhill if he's overtired or excited. Similarly if he's with my in-laws and gets junk treats (things like Dentastix or similar) his behaviour changes.

Young dogs need lots of downtime and rest and walks at this age should only be around half an hour long. They're like small children - yes, they need exercise and training but teaching a dog to rest and be calm is really important as well.

If there's ever a break in her behaviour (eg when she does stop, or if she walks nicely for a couple of steps) reward her. You want really high value rewards - either food (we use cheese or cocktail sausages), a favourite toy or lots of praise - whatever works for her. Our trainer also taught us to use a word to mark good behaviour (you can also use a clicker) and then treat, so the word/noise "marks" her doing something right.

VisionQuest Sun 09-Feb-20 17:24:42

This sounds extreme behaviour. What breed is it? Have you had the dog from 9-10 weeks or did you rehome?

Does she exhibit this behaviour on every walk? Sounds like she's totally over stimulated and stressed. What is she like in the house?

BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 17:54:06

She does wall well sometimes and we give rewards and lots of praise. The treats are hot dog sausage and liver cake (I make it).

The idea behind scattering on floor is to stop the biting and also to get her sniffing, which is supposed to calm her.

She gets at least 3 walks a day, 2 short and one longish (she's a large breed so not too long). We do training games at home. So for example today we did some mat training (getting her to lie on mat and reward for staying as we move away and come back), we played hide and seek with her where one of us hides with the treats and she has to find us, and some sniffing games. She also eats her dinner from various balls/enrichment things.

I thought it was over excitement or frustration at not being able to go loopy when we meet other dogs/people. She is getting really good at keeping her attention on us and just having a quick sniff.

I'm taking her to the vets tomorrow as one of her ears looks very black with wax.

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BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 18:03:52

We had her from 8 weeks. As I said she'd been lots better, but yes this last few weeks it is every walk, both on and off the lead.

She can be pretty calm in the house. After today's disaster walk she laid on the sofa next to me on her back, legs in the air, head on my lap. She sometimes gets over excited in the house playing, but is much easier to calm down. When she starts biting and jumping on walks it is almost impossible to calm her down.

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BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 18:11:40

She's a labradoodle (awaits complete roasting). She is a multi generational one, her mum, dad, grandparents and great grandparents, great great etc. She isn't from a puppy farm, I know the breeder through a friend from work. She breeds them for temperament as assistance and therapy dogs. Many of her aunts, uncles are trained assistance and therapy dogs.

That's why we got her. But I imagine I will be told its all my fault she's like this now. And yes we did look at poodles.

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LovelyPuddings Sun 09-Feb-20 18:30:31

I think I might be tempted to assume this was just a phase - puppies develop and lose so many habits between 8 weeks and about 2 years old. Only the stuff that gets rewarded in any way, sticks.

I think I would run an experiment and walk her around the streets near the house. If she pulls and bites, turn towards home. If she stops, turn back onto your walk. I'd be interested to see if that had any impact on her behaviour.

I'd also start keeping a bit of a record about when in the walk she starts this. Immediately? After 5 mins? After an hour? When you're in a certain type of location, such as grassland? There might be a trigger you can avoid for a while to break the habit. If it's time then all walks are shorter than that time. If it's location, then avoid that. etc.

tabulahrasa Sun 09-Feb-20 19:50:32

My assumption would be that she’s either overstimulated or overtired tbh...

VisionQuest Sun 09-Feb-20 19:54:45

No criticism from me re the breed. But, they can be very highly strung/neurotic.

Where abouts are you walking her? Did anything happen preceding the biting/lunging?

adaline Sun 09-Feb-20 19:55:21

She sounds very overstimulated - three walks plus several bursts of training is a lot for a young dog.

She shouldn't really be having more than two walks a day at that age - quality over quantity! I would drop a walk (so two walks of thirty minutes), and work on getting her to relax in the house a bit more. If she's crate-trained, you can enforce "quiet time" in there - after a walk, my dog always gets a chew or stuffed kong in his bed - it calms his down and then he has a nap. It's been his routine since he was 12 weeks old and it works really well for us.

BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 20:06:09

Thanks. Thing is when we did less with her/fewer walks she was getting wound up in the house. She nips us on the bum/back of legs as if to say "oi, pay me some attention". Or she deliberately tries to steal something she isn't supposed to. So I thought we weren't doing enough.

Her walks are varied, pavement/round the block and some on playing fields or in woods. Although for such short walks it's hard to do much more than pavement, as it would mean driving somewhere.

I will try and keep a log of way might be causing it.

OP’s posts: |
BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 20:07:17

She had a licky mat that we used after walks, but she ate half of it. We have kings, but struggle to find something she'll have apart from cream cheese. She doesn't like peanut butter or banana.

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EnglishRain Sun 09-Feb-20 20:11:59

Does she do this on and off the lead? What do you walk her on, a flat collar, or a harness?

No roasting from me, but I think that explains some of it, does sound befitting of both a Labrador and a poodle!

EnglishRain Sun 09-Feb-20 20:15:34

Baby brain - just seen you did say on and off.

First thing that comes to mind is that if she's doing this you've not got her under control, so I would re evaluate what you are walking her in. One of mine can be reactive and he's a big dog, I need more than a collar to be able to keep him under control of another dog goes for him and he reacts. There is no harm in putting her in something else to ensure you can keep her at arms length when on lead.

When doing it offlead, is it sporadic, when she recalls etc? None of my dogs take huge interest in me when they're off lead. They look for me every 30 seconds or so to make sure they're going the right way and will come when called, but the sniffs are too much fun to waste their time on me.

adaline Sun 09-Feb-20 20:20:27

You can give attention without exercising. Dogs are easily over-stimulated and it's vital that they learn how to relax and just sit quietly. Even more so when you have a mix of two working dogs like you do. Remember, all that happens when you over-exercise a dog, is that you end up with a really fit dog who needs more and more exercise to get tired!

Drop the walks and up the training inside. Short bursts of 5-10 minutes several times a day, plus enforced break time for her (and you). It's important they learn to amuse themselves in a good way and don't rely on you 24/7 for attention and entertainment.

When ours was that age, we had a constant supply of chews and kongs that we gave him (we just cut down his meals) to help him relax after walks. If she won't eat kongs, try things like pigs ears, yak chews, pizzle sticks, raw bones etc.

ImGoingSlightlyBrad Sun 09-Feb-20 20:20:43

Does she like a tennis ball?

ImGoingSlightlyBrad Sun 09-Feb-20 20:23:55

I don't know about her being over stimulated. Both her parent breeds would be doing a lot more than 3 short walks a day in preparation for a working life, at this age.

It would depend a lot on how she is the rest of the time. If she is just like this on a walk but not in the house then I would think something else is going on here.

MadameLeFunky Sun 09-Feb-20 20:27:26

Is this on all walks or are there any good ones?

When and where do the good ones tend to be?

What is home life like for her? Exciting? Boring? Stressful? Relaxing?

The over stim theory is easily tested with 3-4 days of lower activity to see if she winds up or down during that time.

frostedviolets Sun 09-Feb-20 20:32:32

She sounds massively, massively overstimulated.

Hopefully the next bit doesn't come across too rude..

3 walks a day at 6 months old is madness and to be brutally honest, considering her breed, I would actually go so far as to say downright cruel.

You are setting her up for painful and expensive joint issues at maturity.

5 minutes walking per month of age is the recommendation, so 30 minutes.

The saying a tired dog is a good dog is nonsense and when it leads to overexercise in dysplasia prone breeds such as yours, dangerous.

There is a huge difference between a dog that is quiet because it is mature and trained to understand what is expected of it and a dog who is quiet simply because it is tired.

Sooner or later the tired dog will grow used to the level of exercise and you'll need to increase and increase and increase to get the tiredness at the end.

The excessive exercise combined with licky mats, kongs, hide and seek, games, training, too much!

My dog would be exactly as you describe with all that - a hyper, nippy whiny nightmare.

It's way way too much.

She needs way less exercise and training to how to settle down and be bored.

HasaDigaEebowai Sun 09-Feb-20 20:33:00

Mine is 8 months old and also does this. He's incredibly gentle and he's good on walks but if he's off lead in the garden and I go out he gets incredibly over excited and races around launching himself at me and biting. It hurts! He won't respond to any of the commands he will generally respond to and crossing arms and standing still does nothing to stop him.

Watching with interest!

MarshallPNutt Sun 09-Feb-20 20:34:12

I think she sounds over excited or nervous about walks, rather than over stimulated. Both can result in some dodgy behaviour choices.

I wonder what would happen if she got shorter walks? Still there times but each walk is less of a big deal iyswim?

frostedviolets Sun 09-Feb-20 20:41:34

Settle training:

positively.com/dog-behavior/basic-cues/go-settle/

BreathlessCommotion Sun 09-Feb-20 21:01:02

We've done shorter walls too. Her morning and evening one are literally round the block. We aren't walking her for miles and miles, we were doing 3 x 10 mins for example.

As I said, when we were sticking more strictly to the 5 mins per month (which there has no evidence for btw, and working dogs do far more than that) she would get nippy in the house.

Off the lead she will often turn immediately and attack us. If we reduce the walk lengths then we won't be able to do any off lead stuff and we don't live close enough.

She has a harness with a front ring (it's a red dingo one).

She also does it in the garden. I have to put her inside to pick up poo, otherwise she attacks me.

She only does this on walks or in the garden, not in the house. All walks regardless of where.

She has a variety of pizzle sticks, pigs ears, chicken feet etc. But she will often just take them to hide or out in the garden and not chew them.

OP’s posts: |

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