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Puppy reassurance please!

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Chelsea Crowther, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Chelsea Crowther

    Chelsea Crowther New Member Registered

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    Hello everyone!

    I'm hoping to get a little bit of reassurance about my little 13 week old puppy. She's a black lab and she's absolutely beautiful! But she has a problem with biting. I've read so many blogs and forum posts that say this is completely normal but it's still a bit of a worry for me.

    She will get very over excited and bite legs, hands, arms, any available skin! We have told her a stern "stop" and tried to ignore as advised (but it's really hard when she keeps jumping in with teeth!) and she has given me and a few others quite hard bites!

    We have also tried the time out for a few minutes in her crate for her to calm down but as soon as she comes out, she will get very excited again without any play going on and will jump up and try to bite.

    The other issue is that she's chewing holes into our couch and we have given her teething toys and watch her 24/7 but she's really clever, she will take the toy over to the chewing corner and pretend to chew, then go on to the couch, and when we look at her she goes straight back to the chew! I'm not really concerned about this as we were prepared for puppies to chew everything! I'm just hoping she will grow out of the biting.

    P.s she is starting puppy classes in a week!

    thank you, sorry is this is a bit of an essay! Just hoping other puppy owners can share their experience and reassure me she isn't a raptor in disguise!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    First, don't panic, the mouthing is totally normal. This is just an extension of the boisterous play she had with her littermates but she needs to learn this is not how to play with humans. Some people find a sharp 'ouch' works but it can just ramp up the excitement. Some people find putting a toy in the dog's mouth works, others find the puppy is still more interested in nipping hands. My preferred method is to teach her that teeth on skin equals end of fun. So as soon as she makes contact, walk out of the room for a few moments. As long as the whole family is consistent - do it immediately and do it every time - she will learn. You could use a house line to draw her away, which keeps your hands both out of reach and also keeps hands for only good things.
    She isn't devious enough to work out toy is good, couch is bad. To her it's just something comfortable in her mouth to chew on (whichever it is) and when you look at her she might switch from couch to toy - but it's more likely she is either thinking it's part of a game or possibly picking up on a signal from you than she actually has worked out yet that the couch is not for chewing. If you rip up an old tea towel, plait it and tie knots in the ends. Wet it then put it in the freezer - she will enjoy chewing that. Frozen carrots also are good and since chewing is a self-soothing activity it will relax her.
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Don't worry, it IS normal!

    Telling her 'stop' is unlikely to help - it doesn't really mean anything to her and it doesn't tell her what she should do. I suggest a two-pronged approach:

    1) Always carry a toy on you. Then when she gets that look, stuff the toy in her mouth. Hopefully, that will help break the habit.

    2) Timeouts are good, but make them much briefer. Literally, 5-10 seconds can work. Don't say anything at all, no 'ah ah!' or anything. Just calmly remove her from the room, or remove yourself from the room. I found a stairgate was best for this (I didn't use a crate with my pup). When you let her out or return to the room she will, of course, go straght for you again. Separate yourself from her as before, leave her 5-10 seconds, wash and repeat... and repeat... and repeat... You (and everyone else in the household) have to be really consistent and it will be exhausting, but eventually you'll see her pause before biting. She might still bite because she hasn't got the self-control to stop, but at least she's beginning to put 2 & 2 together.

    It does take time, and there will be times when she regresses. One thing that can help is impulse control training because it does develop the ability to control her behaviour (think of a toddler left in a room with a big chocolate cake who has been told they mustn't touch it - even if they know they're not meant to, it may be irresistible). Have a look on YouTube for a video called 'It's Yer Choice'.
     
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  4. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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  5. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    As someone who was the chewtoy of choice I feel your pain. Murphy had time outs and was then given his real chewtoy and eventually he got the message.

    It does pass.
     
  6. Chelsea Crowther

    Chelsea Crowther New Member Registered

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    Thank you for your replies! It's really great to hear that this is normal and have some advice!
    Someone I work with has mentioned the tea towel method so i will definitely be doing that! We have been really using the ignore and leave the room method but sometimes it's hard when she chases you with those piranha teeth :emoji_crocodile:

    It's only me and my boyfriend in the house so we're both really happy to keep repeating the same things over and over again until she understands. It is exhausting but worth it!

    I will also have a look at that YouTube video!

    Thank you again!
     
  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    While you are looking at YouTube, have a look for Kikopup too. She has some excellent training videos.
     
  8. Buddy1

    Buddy1 Active Member Registered

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    Labrador = Crocodor :D

    Many gundogs are particularly prone to puppy biting as they are naturally ‘mouthy’ dogs.
    Our retriever was an utter nightmare; I don’t recall actually being able to stroke him for the first few weeks without him trying to impersonate a piranha. While I knew this was normal puppy behaviour, I still found it disheartening, frustrating and downright painful.

    At the moment, it might seem hard to believe you have a dog that was bred to have a ‘soft mouth’, but she will grow out of it, even if it does take some time.

    While we did withdraw our attention from our dog when he was biting, we also found it really useful to try to anticipate when he was starting to get excited and then redirect his attention onto a toy. Retrievers love to have something in their mouth: when they are puppies this will be to chew, as they get older this will be used to greet every visitor that comes to the house. :)
     
  9. Ari_RR

    Ari_RR Well-Known Member Registered

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    Yep, all normal, and you have a great attitude towards these things, and parience, and sense of humor - so, off to a great start, it seems :)

    My 2 cents - while getting you fingers chopped off by a puppy is not great, I would recommend getting the puppy accustomed to examining his mouth, it will go a long way later. So, IMHO, at this stage gentle mouthing is a good thing, I would not discourage that.

    In short - prevent/discourage biting, but still train the puppy to accept gently you hands in her mouth.
    And by the way, not just her mouth. Ears, feet too. If you don’t yet practice daily checkups (checking his ears, feet, the entire body) - I would.
     
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  10. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Even though I had bleeding stumps for fingers in the first couple of months I agree with this advice. Murphy is totally happy to have us look in his mouth, ears, eyes ect. Recently when he had an ouch on his rear paw this was invaluable because I just used our normal paw washing routine to check it out and apply salve. Our old beagle hadnt had any training like this and he was a nightmare needing two of us to rodeo him and hold him down just to clip a claw or give ear drops.
     
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  11. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Actually having raised four spaniels and a lab x I'd say if she wasn't doing what you describe, there's something wrong developmentally. Puppies experience over 80% of the world through their mouths- if they didn't 'mouth' , it would be like a blindfolded child- they would never grew up able to cope with the world. So basically ignore the bad - don't even try the No! command yet- praise the good...and enjoy the chaos. Try squeaking to denote you're hurt- two of mine cared, the other three didn't. None of them ever bit as adults - despite provocation at times from other dogs and inlaws! But as our upholsterer says 'puppies are my best customers.' I've certainly cried with the pain of puppy teeth. Funny how you forget and still want another one. ;) And how bad does your face ache when you say to yourself don't react! as they disappear out the door with your one and only silk shirt? Think of it as character building- not the puppy, though, you!
     
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  12. Yveren1

    Yveren1 New Member Registered

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    I used to cry when I could not stop Kenza doing this to me and eventually once I stuck to the advice given to me on here I saw an improvement. She is now brilliant. Hang in there.
     
  13. MungoPungo

    MungoPungo New Member Registered

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    I’m at the same stage with my puppy. She wasn’t too bad to start with when we brought her home as the breeder had been working on “aa-aa!” with his puppies and getting another toy to quickly put in their mouths. And we continued with this. However, she’s definitely got much much worse since she has been “out and about” more now she’s had her injections because people ask if they can say hello to her and then when they’re petting her, even though I say don’t let her nip your fingers so “aa-aa!” they don’t seem to heed my advice and just seem happy to let her nibble and nip their fingers. She doesn’t always bit down hard you see, so they just endure any discomfort. However, sometimes when she’s very excited, as often happens at home, she bites down very hard and it’s very painful. I’ve started keeping a very small chew toy in my pocket at all times which I now immediately give to someone if they want to pet her and say “you might want to put this in her mouth else she’ll get your fingers. Please discourage her biting your fingers by saying “aa aa!” or ignore her”. That’s helped a bit, but even then there are many people who still let her nibble their fingers!
    We also have a problem with ankles. I find, if she’s not already too excited, walking very slowly helps keep her in a calmer state and then she may not start nipping my ankles or feet. If she’s already in a “zoomy” (really crazy energetic mischievous-seeming mood) then I find sometimes a brief time-out in crate works but often it really doesn’t help, or I’ve discovered that just picking her up (hands under armpits of front legs and around rib cage ) and suspending her in the air, legs dangling, facing away from me, seems to often really quieten her down. I walk slowly into another room and put her down in there, hoping change of scene but help create a calmer mood. It doesn’t hurt her and I’m not angry when I do it. It’s like time-out in the air!! It works very well with her but then it might be just her and might not be the same for other puppies.
    Good luck, and just remind yourself that all puppies are like this and eventually they get out of it if you’re persistent and consistent with them. Hard going though isn’t it?!
     
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  14. One dog training

    One dog training New Member Registered

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    Ok so from experience yes puppies bite and chew, is this acceptable behaviour...No! If you don't correct this now it will only get worse.
    So a dog only bites/chew in that context for a few reasons:
    1. Teething (puppy so partly this)
    2. They need to chew, so in the wild it would be RAW bones, chewing helps clean their teeth and strengthen their gums.
    3. Hunger issues.
    4. They don't respect your leadership

    Now once i've changed the diet of my clients dogs to raw feeding this usually stops the chewing/biting as they're now having bones in their diet...Obviously this is not for everyone, so you need to find an other alternative if you don't want to feed RAW bones, NEVER feed cooked bones as they splinter and can cause severe problems.

    Now to the correction and getting you the top of the pack, decide what correction you're going to use, We use a growl (I won't go into detail as this is part of my training) but we sometimes add in something extra like a water spray at the same time as correcting. As long as you're consistent you'll have a puppy that listens and respects you and will stop chewing/ biting and mouthing.

    Hope this helps - Let me know how it goes (puppy classes as well)
     
  15. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry but I can't agree with you re things like water sprays. Some dogs will respond to negative stimuli by learning 'this is dangerous!' - others will decide 'this person is dangerous'- others will up the anti. Where do you go then? I've seen hopeless situations with people becoming obsessed with 'leadership' and control. It seems to be based on the old-fashioned Alpha dog ideas that have caused real problems for owners and dogs.
     
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  16. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I agree with Merlina - adding stress to the pup by punishing it will not help it learn. Nipping is often associated with overarousal and it will only add to arousal levels. Most trainers have now ditched these approaches for positive, reward-based methods that work by motivating the dog, not fear (of punishment).
     
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  17. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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  18. One dog training

    One dog training New Member Registered

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    Ok i understand it's not for everyone but i've never had or my mentor who's been training 20+ years have a dog react or think in the way you describe because of the water spray. I'm sorry but thats how dogs think and people tend to humanise dogs when they are not, Not sure if you're a trainer or what but if what you've been doing has worked then great.

    But to have an opinion about a training style you seem to not fully understand and say it's wrong is not right. My style of dog behavioural training is based on dogs behaviours and personalities and why they do what they do, Spray is a form of a correction to them, they don't think "This is dangerous" it's a correction and if you let dogs become the leader over you then thats when you end up with anxiety problems, aggression problems, resource guarding, passive dominance etc

    Like i said there are many different types of training styles out there and men is one of the many, i wouldn't continue to be a dog behaviourist/trainer if i didn't get the results and have happy clients, but every one to their own opinions i guess.
     
  19. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry but this dominance theory was based on false science - even the person who first proposed it later retracted it as he realised his theory was mistaken. And modern trainers and behaviourists have for the most part updated their knowledge and apply non-aversive techniques with demonstrably greater success. Undoubtedly there are some diehard trainers who cling to old fashioned techniques but fortunately more and more are crossing over to more enlightened methods.
     
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  20. One dog training

    One dog training New Member Registered

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    Ok so he was the one who first proposed doesn't mean it died out then just because he retracted what he said. Oh and i'll take one journal link as a be all and end all?? No they have not this is all based on your opinion and many other non behavioural based dog trainers. I wouldn't and many other behaviourist wouldn't be doing this style of training if i did not work.

    But this is just ONE style of dog training, ok this is your opinion great, but i know this works, and i also know more people are arriving over to this way of training apposed to treat training. I've only gave you a sample of the training style and you've immediately gone with the "it's old fashion..." you clearly do not know this style, there is a correction system in place same as their is a positive reinforcement style to it as well...It's not as simple and understanding the behavioural side of things takes a long time to learn. In a few years time this method will be the norm and you will look back red faced on your ignorance to other training methods
     

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