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Old 02-12-2013, 12:28 PM
bulldogmama bulldogmama is offline
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Default Puppy help - chewing and mouthing

Hello!

I'm brand new here and am looking for help with my 10 month old English Bulldog puppy, Chubbs. He is a very sweet, happy boy, loves going on walks and is fairly easygoing around people, other dogs, out in public, etc. The issues I'm having happen when we are at home. I realized that the problems are my fault for setting up bad patterns and rewarding him for negative behaviour, but I'm not sure how to break the cycle!

Normally, Chubbs is outside by himself for most of the day in our large backyard. I bring him inside and/or play with him outside a few times throughout the day, but he mostly just sleeps out there. He isn't destructive, doesn't bark, chew, or dig.

In the evening I take him for a 30 minute walk, after which he is exhausted (I guess bulldogs don't have much stamina--not like the labrador I had as a kid!). He naps for a bit while I make dinner, or watches me. Generally, if I'm up and cooking, cleaning, or milling about he's pretty content to watch me or occasionally play with a toy.

As soon as I sit down, though--whether to eat dinner or watch TV in the living room--he wants to play. Normally I'll play for a minute or two, tug-of-war, tossing a toy for him to chase, etc., but when I stop playing he gets destructive. He will chew the furniture or jump on it to try to grab things he's not supposed to have. I'll tell him 'no!' and then try to ignore him so as not to reward his bad behaviour, but he keeps getting into things, I keep telling him 'no!' etc. I'll try to distract him with toys, which works for a bit if I play with him, but he's not super into toys if he's playing by himself most of the time. He gets bored easily and then goes back to chewing furniture. I tried spraying that Bitter stuff on the furniture, but he actually likes it and licks it off like it's a condiment or something.... *sigh*

The other problem is that he sometimes gets mouthy. Often it's when my husband is wrestling with him, or if I'm playing with his toys. He never actually bites, more like just opens his mouth and grazes his teeth against you, but in a playful, non-agressive way. I try when he does this to immediately stop playing the game, but it really doesn't seem like he's 'getting' the connection between him mouthing and the game stopping.

He also does occasionally open-mouth-graze if I don't play with him when he wants to play, or if I have him by the collar and am taking him to bed, etc. Again, he never bites, or even growls, he's more just 'annoyed' if that makes sense. But, it really needs to stop.

Other than these issues he's a very sweet boy, it's just hard to relax and have him inside at night because this bad behaviour gets annoying. Plus, I feel that it's just this negative cycle of me yelling and him ignoring me... I need help! Thanks in advance for your input!

-Emma
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Old 02-16-2013, 02:28 PM
emc emc is offline
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Since he is outside for most of the day, he's not used to being in the house or to house rules. He needs to be confined when you cannot be there to correct him. The less he gets a chance to chew furniture or grabs things the easier it will be for you to break the habit.

It takes work and time and although it may seem like it's not working, if you persist in the correction it will eventually pay off. When my chihuahua was a puppy she would rip plants right out of the pot. No matter how many times I'd scold her and shoo her away she would be right back at it. But eventually after many months she finally got the message to stay away.
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Old 02-16-2013, 03:58 PM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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It seems like he just doesn't know how to self occupy, many puppies don't. Since he does it when you stop playing with I would start doing some form of confinment at this time. If it were me I'd leash him to myself, but a crate or play pen would work. While he is confined provide him with things he can chew. Rubber toys, bully sticks, antlers, himalayan chews, whatever he will actually chew. That way these are his only choices, you are blocking his access to other items. Eventually he will learn to turn to these appropriate outlets when he gets the urge to chew something, it will just become a good habit. Do be sure to schedule regular play sessions though so he can have that energy drained.

As for mouthing, it's sort of personal opinion. I allow my dog to mouth during rough play. He knows how hard is too hard, so is always gentle, thus I let him do it. But I would never play with him if he just came up and started mouthing, rough play is something I initiate, otherwise it would be very annoying. When playing with toys i would not allow mouthing either. If you see his attention shift from toy to your hand stop playing right away, no warning or second chances. Make sure the criteria is very clear so he is 100% sure that him going for your hand always ends the game. I would also suggest trying again a few minutes after stopping. Repitition is what will let him learn, so having the game end repeatedly in a short time will probably let him learn faster than if the sessions are hours or days apart, but it does depend on the dog. Some might not consider a few minute break from the game punishing enough, so will need a longer one.

If he mouths to try and make you play either ignore him or stand up/walk away for a few seconds. If he is hurting you a time out might be better. Try not to do any jerky movements that he might interpret as a game.

Mouthing when you move him by the collar is a while different thing. He is indeed annoyed/protesting but once he's older this could turn towards aggression. I would teach him to enjoy having his collar grabbed and enjoy being led by it. If you google "collar grab game" you'll find out how to go about starting this. Just add in the leading part by pulling on the collar and giving a treat when the dog takes a step, then slowly requiring more steps before a treat, then adding in things like the crate (if that's what you mean by bed). You could also teach the dog to go in the crate on command.


Those are my suggestions anyways, good luck with him, puppies are hard!
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:15 PM
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frostfell frostfell is offline
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"one good correction is worth more than a thousand little nagging ones"
sounds like "no!" isnt working, so you need to do somethign different, something that will drive the point home that This Behavior Is Unacceptable And I Will Not Stand For It. soda can with pennies inside? a big dramatic overreacting roar, lunge, knock over, scruff shake? before some hysterical pure positive people freak out-- this is no worse than an grandma female would do to a naughty puppy that didnt "get it". a roar, knock the puppy over, an open-mouthed "spank" with their teeth, and puppy gets the living daylights scared out of him and doesnt do it again. and hes not terrified of the alpha female, but he has learnt a little humility

as for very gentle mouthing while playing-- sounds like hes got a fantastic handle on proper bite inhibition, as hes being very gentle on your skin while still "playing rough" with you. i see no issue with this. he knows how to be nice while using his "hands"
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