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Thread: ~Updated~ Need dog owners advice with puppy biting! + other tips are welcome

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    Smart Canuck web3's Avatar
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    Hi everyone!
    We got a puppy over 2 weeks ago and she is doing great!
    She's a border collie blue heeler mix and is 11 weeks old tomorrow. I would include a pic but I am at work
    Within the first week she grasped going outside for the bathroom and waiting by the back door to tell us she has to go. She has done well with her crate, what she can chew on and what she cannot, knows sit, we are working on stay and not jumping on people.
    But whenever we pet her or approach her with our hands she has been mouthy. I understand this is normal and I redirect her to a toy when I can but now she is starting to bite a bit harder and I wanted to know your tips to deter this and encourage licking instead. We do play tug everyday on my terms- I start and end the game, taking time in between to practice "drop it" and "take it".
    Is this a phase she will work through? I have never had a dog before and I spent a lot of time reading about training before getting her. But I'm not too sure when and if this is grown out of?
    I have read some websites and watched some youtube videos. Tried saying ouch loudly, folding my arms in disapproval and turning around or ignoring her for a few seconds. That doesn't work lol, she nips at my pants or feet instead. She does get in moods where she is overly nippy as well, I chalk that up to her puppy hyper-ness though.
    I saw an interesting video last night where the owner had a treat cupped in his hand and naturally the dog would sniff it, even try to nibble it. Once the dog backed away from the hand, he clicked and treated. Rewarding the behavior we want them to do, allow a hand near her without biting it. Will be trying that soon. Need to boil some chicken to make the treat extra special!
    I do have a clicker and use it for training sessions. Although, last night when trying to practice not jumping, I learned to not try to train her after eating, as she wanted to bury all the treats around the backyard! lol
    I know there are lots of dog lovers here and I'm looking for some tips, thanks! Not only with biting but on any training techniques that worked for you and common puppy problems
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    Mastermind Lynn49's Avatar
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    We've had 4 dogs throughout our 45 years of marriage, and all of them were...well, what can I say...perfect! Pups love to chew, so providing them with safe opportunities to chew, which I think you're already doing, is great...I can't overstate that...they love to chew and yes, they love connecting with things (us) is with their mouths. And their sharp little teeth!

    The best thing we ever came across and has worked well with all our pups, is when they go to nip or put their little teeth near your hand, just put your hand completely over their muzzle and hold their mouth closed FOR A FEW SECONDS. Obviously they'll feel very uncomfortable and try to pull away and whine, and yes, it breaks your heart, but those very few seconds *until they feel uncomfortable, works wonders, and they'll start to think twice about nipping or biting again.

    Hope that helps!

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    Luv Saving People Money MortgageQueen's Avatar
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    Sounds like you are an awesome pet owner web3!

    I have had pitbulls when they were legal in Ontario (don't get me started on THAT subject!) so any aggressive behaviour was addressed immediately and at a young age.

    One thing you can count on is your puppy wants to please you. Lynn's suggestion is a good one. I would add one thing. Use whatever word you are using to stop a behaviour. Most pet owners say "OFF!"

    When dogs hear that word in whatever behaviour they are exhibiting, they know (or learn) to stop it. Another thing I always found works amazingly is immediately (and I mean instantly) praise them with "Good Boy!" Re-enforcing good behaviour in dogs with strong personalities goes a long way in controlling their behaviour.

    You may have double duty on your hands due to the breed. . .keeping in mind they have a genetic disposition to use their mouth to herd. I mention that because it may take your pup a little longer than others due to that. Keep up the good work!
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    sorry you are having doggie issues. I had a shepherd (herding dog like yours) that had issues and used the treat method for good behaviour which worked especially with a bigger dog you don't want to get bitten. tons of exercise/walking worked too towards a calmer dog. See what works with your dog best...you don't want to do anything that will cause anxiety in your dog.

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    Smart Canuck web3's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies everyone!
    I read about the breeds beforehand and knew what I was getting into lol. But with knowing that I bring lots of patience and consistency. @MortgageQueen I have been saying a firm "no" when she bites but is "off" better to use? I don't want to use words that may confuse her in the future when for example instructing to get "off" the bed or couch.
    Also, how would you all address digging in the gardens? My daughter has a sandbox that I have not stopped her from digging in and she is allowed there. But in the gardens, it seems a firm "no" doesn't just cut it. She just looks at me and walks right back in. I will redirect her to a toy but she hasn't grasped that gardens are off limits.
    I realize I have only had her almost a few weeks and she is still learning, but so am I! lol
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    Mastermind Lynn49's Avatar
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    All good answers..

    As for digging in gardens? We found that a small fence works nicely Honestly, nice fresh earth just calls to them, lol...we buy just those wire fences, about a foot high (Jenny is short, so no worries), although you may need a higher one, and we just stick them in the ground around the garden. I think they come in taller sizes. Our last dog was a border collie and wow...are you in for some fun times; she was a wonderful companion and friend...enjoy...they're truly blessings..
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    I have always used "hey!" instead of "no" or whatever because it is natural for anyone to say as an alarm call, and it doesn't come up in human conversation except to get someone's attention, unlike other words, so it's special.

    For biting I make the dog do something submissive. I use my index finger (only) to give the dog a light doink on the head, and this makes them close their eyes, which is submissive behavior. I want to see their ears and shoulders slump, or I'll do it again. For a worse infraction, I would do what momma dog would do, and grab them by the scruff gently and guide them over on their side and make them show their belly, which is totally submissive behavior. If the dog is hyper, you can just scruff it and make it settle down and sit before you let go. That's exactly what momma dog would do, again.

    I am a firm believer in using baby talk, just as you would for a toddler, to train dogs rather than using commands. Dogs learn to pick up key words and all you have to say is "I'm going to the barn" to someone in the house and they all get up and stretch, because they know the words "go" and "barn". That's why old farm dogs are always so smart, because the farmer talks to them instead of commands them

    A great dog psychology book I came across is How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren, if you are interested.
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    Mastermind Lynn49's Avatar
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    Oh, gosh, if anyone overheard the conversations I have with Jenny, I'm sure to be committed! Lol! And you're right: it always amazes me when she understands what I'm saying and responds appropriately. We're a real team...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn49 View Post
    Oh, gosh, if anyone overheard the conversations I have with Jenny, I'm sure to be committed! Lol! And you're right: it always amazes me when she understands what I'm saying and responds appropriately. We're a real team...
    Well one of the family's Bostons was nuts about balls. You had to keep them hidden from her because if she saw one high out of reach, she'd stand there and bark at it until someone came to stop it. When she did get a ball she was beyond hyper, which is why the balls were mostly hidden to begin with. You think the dog isn't listening to people talk, but this dog was so keyed to the word "ball" that any time you said it - butterball, basketball, ball bearing, Bolliwood - the dog would explode barking.

    I used to load a pack of Bostons into the car and take them down to the conservation area and run them until the first one pooped out and refused to move anymore Even though someone always needed to be carried home, they loved it so much you couldn't say anything about parks, walks, conservation areas without the bunch of them striking up a yodel. They figured out every way I could say it. They also clearly understood all the major locations (house, barn, garden, pond, etc), all the other animals and family names, a pile of verbs with "go" the most exciting, "shut up" lol

    Dogs are unique because they can follow your gaze and look where you are looking or pointing (whereas a cat will smell your finger). You can train a dog to follow gaze and finger commands quite easily. If you have enough time on your hands you can teach them to roll their eyes. (Hilarious - I taught one of the bug-eyed Bostons to do this...one day he needed to go outside and he was trying to catch my father's attention and he started rolling his eyes at him and my father was shouting "Something's wrong with the dog!")

    The more time you invest in your dog, the more you get back.
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    Smart Canuck web3's Avatar
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    Pepper has crashed and found some time to add some pics
    First day at home
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    Tonight- she is already so much bigger!
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    Tried petting her tonight with a treat cupped in my hand and encouraged her to lick me. A lick got a click and a treat. That went well. Was also briefly holding her mouth when she tried to bite.

    As for the gardens, I can't really fence them off unfortunately. There is no fruit, just my hostas and lillies. And she likes to chew the mulch wood chips... Winter is coming (eventually, although you wouldn't think it) and maybe by next spring she will mature a bit by then. lol

    I joke with my husband as to what part of her daily puppy cycle she is in. It's either nap time, calm relaxin time, then maniac bounce off the walls- run circles in the backyard time, then crash and repeat above steps again. That is her day lol. Usually during her maniac cycle is she the the most nippy and jumpy. And that is when she will run through my gardens and stop an dig. Run past me and nip my pants or jump up. My efforts to stop her are in vain as when she is in that mood, she listens like a brick lol.

    Thanks for all your advice. I'm looking forward to training her more and having a new friend

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    Digging is much like diverting with a toy. While she's small enough, you can pick her up, put her in the sandbox and even dig a little. Give the sand box a name that you always use.
    If you have the time, bury a couple toys a couple inches, then rake the whole surface. Her sense of smell will likely pick them up. Could be a fun game for her.
    Keep in mind the instant she stops a bad behavior - Praise! They soon connect the dots. Positive reinforcement always works better because dogs want to please you more than anything.
    @lecale - Great points. Dogs also are expert body language experts. They know just by watching what you do prior to walk/play/feed, what's coming. . .the little stinkers! lol
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    Wow, she is cute
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    Cat Trainer (Trainee??) Andit's Avatar
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    She's adorable!

    wrt nipping - when I got Lily dog from the shelter (6 months old, untrained and crazy), she was quite the nipper. Tried all the tricks, nothing worked (she has a stubborn streak) until I used reverse psychology on her. For Lily, biting was part of the game, so I enthusiastically played along. When she nipped me, I put my hand in her mouth and held down her tongue for a second. She was not impressed. I was enthusiastic about playing the "game". After 2 attempts at that game, she realized I was an idiot who had no idea how to play her game her way, so she gave up the biting.

    When she got a bit older, we revisited the biting game, but this time under my rules (by this point I had taught her the importance of being gentle - had no choice after she tore apart and indestructible kong ). We now play a bitey game, where she looks like she's attacking my hands and should be leaving scars, but there isn't a mark on me (& I bruise very easily).

    Another trick to teach how to take treats gently is to put the treat on a fork (piece of fruit, or meat, etc). If the pup gets grabby, the fork "bites" the pup (and your hands are safe). You might want to wait until the teenage stage for this one ("you're not the boss of me and I'm taking that treat now" phase).

    Good luck with the pup. Keep us updated on your progress.

    PS I'm very jealous, would love to add a pup to the household.
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    For a smile, see our vids: http://www.youtube.com/lilyquincy

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    Mastermind Lynn49's Avatar
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    Oh, Pepper's ADORABLE! Those eyes!!! That sweet soul....

    Andi, great advice as always and you reminded me that along with holding her mouth closed for a FEW seconds, I'd also let my hand stay in her mouth, holding her tongue down and lightly grasping her lower jaw...it's pretty darn uncomfortable for them and pretty soon they do get tired of that "game". Now Jenny and I play by my teasing her....grab a leg, the other one, flip an ear, the other one, grab the tail, all very gently of course, and naturally she grabs my hand in her mouth and she's the one holding it there for a few seconds! It's so great knowing that no matter what happens, or how upset she gets with me, she'll never bite down or hurt me. And oiy her joyful barks!!!
    It tuckers her out and she can rest again for an hour or so...if she jumps off the sofa mid-game, it means chase me, chase me around the coffee table. I'm obviously not a fast runner, lol, so I reach across and try to catch her little butt, lol...so cute to see her running then tucking her bottom under when I reach her....

    Oh, enjoy every moment of your little Pepper; dogs bring so much joy into our lives. Like Andi, I can't stress enough about positive reinforcement. Just like kids..rewards are much more fun to receive than punishments and are definitely remembered!
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    Thought I would update on Pepper! Because she is the best puppy evah!

    By using all your tips, her nipping has been under control now for a while. Gently grabbing her snout and a firm no, plus ignoring her worked well. She is 4.5 months now and she is adjusting so well!

    Really starting to see her "fit in" and her bonding to us. The first few weeks, I'm sure she felt like an alien and we were speaking German!

    Training has been going great. After learning sit the next thing we made sure she knew was when she comes in from outside she is to wait on the mat let us wipe her paws. So teaching shake a paw was easy...
    She knows to sit and "wait" while we give her food and can go an eat when we say "ok" or gesture it. I actually walked back over to her food bin, put the scoop away, walked back over to her and said "ok". Such patience! Just this week she learned lay down (I was a bit lax on training over the holidays, would have nailed this one down sooner but...) I love the ungraceful flop she does to lay down, haha too cute.
    My husband taught her "catch" with her treats and we are working on putting one on her nose and having her wait. I know she will get that one soon.
    I'm going to try and start targeting training and I can't wait to teach her some fun tricks.

    My new question for you all is jumping- any tips on stopping that? I know she wants to greet everyone by kisses and have been trying to have people approach her until all 4 paws are on the ground, then they can pet her. But she just loves people!
    A lady in the pet store said "mommy must not be socializing you". That made me grrrr a bit! lol. I do my best to bring her places when I can, we have been to the dog park a handful of times now, puppy classes, she even sat with me Halloween and handed out candy in the garage. I truly think she just loves people!

    Anyways here are some pics! The pink bandage is when she tore her dew claw jumping out of the back seat of our SUV. All healed up fine. Vet said I should probably remove them when she gets spayed as the are pretty loose.
    The purple collar pics are most recent
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