Puppy Biting/growling --the truth

antipunt1

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#1
Hello fellow forumers; a very interesting/ hotly controversial notion has come to my attention. :confused:

Essentially: I'm not sure which is more mythical. The dominance myth. Or the 'debunking' of the myth.

Basically I've searched the web and found NUMEROUS complaints of puppy misconduct involving biting and growling occasionally. Upon further research I started to doubt not only the dominance myth but the 'mythical debunking' of that..myth..err, as you can see it gets kinda messy.

Does anyone know the 'truth' about this cause it just seems so controversial. I give you an example:

puppy wants to bite and doesn't stop:

response:
a)yelp b) say No firmly c) yelp and walk away or avoid eye contact d)time out

puppy response:

a) get excited and bite more b) gets even more excited and bites more c) gets excited and nips are your ankles as you walk away d) gets hyper shortly after letting it out and nips at you again

So I tried the 'oh no you didn't' methods, though very gently. I did the weird 'alpha roll' thing where I'd try to pin it. Failed. Then I tried something like acting like the mother-bitch. I growled and kind of nipped her with my hands. Epic fail, she GROWLED at me back. 9 week old puppy wants to take me on ! I shouted.

The more stern my "no" gets the more she wants to play. In fact..this is why I'm curious about the 'dubunking' of the dominance myth. Cause this is what I think: I think Wanta is learning that if she bites us she gets her way, whether it is play or dominance. I've trained my mom to yelp and I think its a mistake. We yelp and scream. She SO knows she's hurting us, I mean there's no way she couldn't at this point. I even let stern "Owws", but that only gets her more excited and growly. So I think she..kinda USES it to assert herself as "hey, I wanna play, listen to me BIATCH!"

So I really do suspect Wanta is trying to assert DOMINANCE. I was like.. NO WAY, after all we did for you! Unconditional love my arse =P

I love my puppy and am willing to try to whine that my parents allow her to go to obedience school. But more than anything, I dislike controversial messes, and it definitely does seem like my puppy is trying to be the alpha female, and the advice of "yelp and walk away" is seeming increasingly ridiculous, and I feel like a dummy doing something that doesn't work at all except in making me look lame. In addition, going to obedience school in this air seems like a 'defeat' of knowledge/theory-kind. In short, I don't want to give up to obedience school without learning the truth of whether or not all this is BS !!

I've read a lot of threads online and all of them are like "well..mm. I dunno. Time for obedience school!".

but what about the theories? Doesn't my puppy know she's hurting me, sometimes she bites hard enough to rip or bleed my hand. I yelp and give stern "no's" and "eh eh eh's", but she just LOVES torturing me. Given that she even growled at me today, I kinda feel like this 'relationship' of ours is going a little outta hand.

I feel like an alien, where I have 'ZERO' means of telling her whats wrong; thats kind of the issue with positive reinforcement, you can't ever use punishment of any kind. I doubt the statement "the absolute WORST thing you can do is remove your attention from your puppy! You turn your back!"; problem with that is my puppy gives me kind of like a "fine..I'll just play somewhere else, I dun need you!", and contently trots off on her own with a care. And when she DOES suffer [AKA whining in confinement], after I lecture her and release her SHE STARTS AGAIN. and I repeat this process like 3x over and over, and she doesn't get it! Hmm. or maybe she DOES get it-- *hinthint [trying to dominate me]

I pet her and shower praise when she's calm and kind. It just doesn't seem like positive reinforcement has much 'kick' to it. I swear that when I walk away, all my puppy's learning is that she BEATS me when she bites. We all look like we're running from her. My mom pulls her feet up on the couch to hide. this is SO a dominant streak! I mean.. right?

*note: I'm not at all challenging positive reinforcement theories, I'm just posing a slightly humorous challenge to the "all you have to do is YIP!" statements out there. And I've seen that my case isn't at all unique online, with tons of people complaining, getting ambiguous advice. But still, what's left to do besides those ridiculous alpha rolls or grabbing her neck area lightly and shaking her? I can only imagine when my puppy gets older and how she'll use her mouth to take advantage of us then... :yikes:

Thanks again forumers! Wondering if any experts out there can shine concrete-light on this issue. I'm surprised that my puppy is destroying the hand that feeds her, with no remorse. I've done everything right according to the theories for bite inhibition, I swear!
 

Dekka

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#2
Pretty much all the ethologists don't believe in the alpha thing. Dogs know we are not dogs and don't treat us as such. For example if they did all dog agressive dogs would also be people aggressive.

If you think your 9 week old puppy is trying to dominate you..WOW that must be some pup, she must be the smartest dog on earth to be trying to 'work' you at 9 weeks!!!! That is like thinking because a toddler chews his toys he is trying to take over the house. Or even worse a baby who grabs your hand is trying to dominate you. Sounds silly doesn't it? Puppies explore with their teeth. Its normal, but not acceptable to humans. THe funny thing is even dogs dont' find this behaviour 'dominating'. From little puppies they just walk away. Get out of reach of the little shark.

You say your puppy growled at you. A play growl and real growl sound exactly the same. She might have meant it, or she might have thought it was a game.

I think you have the wrong idea about positive training. You can actually be very harsh with it. Read Ruff Love, or all the controversy about it.. know a lady who said it practically had her in tears the things she had to do to her dog (it worked and her dog was an extreme case) POSITIVE DOES NOT MEAN PERMISSIVE.

So puppy bites, put puppy in a crate. Have puppy drag around a VERY light leash (when supervised) and toss the end over the nearest door handle and walk away.

NOW FOR THE IMPORTANT PART. What is it you DO want your pup to do? She is trying desperatley to get you to interact with her the only way puppies know how. How DO you want her to play with you? Toys? If so then BEFORE she gets to biting play with her, play fetch, play tug etc etc etc. A happy tired pup is going to bite less. Teach her to 'go get her toy' Teach her down and stay. You can't be running and biting ankles if you are in a down stay ;) Teach her lots of things. As soon as she knows she has otherways to interact then the biting will not be an issue.

However if you keep assuming normal puppy play is a vie to take over the mortgage and such then you are likely in for a long and bumpy road.
 

corgipower

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#3
However if you keep assuming normal puppy play is a vie to take over the mortgage and such then you are likely in for a long and bumpy road.
**Happily allows dog to chew on me as long as he pays the bills ;)

I agree with everything Dekka said. As for the dominance theory and the debunking of the dominance theory, both of those are based on wolf behavior. Last time I checked my dog was not a wolf, and therefore, I don't feel that either one is applicable to a domesticated dog.

It's likely that the puppy is confused. What is the rest of your body language telling her when you yelp? Are you sending a conflicting signal?

Also, as Dekka said, let her know what you want. Teach her that a sit or a down will get her all sorts of good things while at the same time teaching her that biting will cause her to lose out on good things.
 

antipunt1

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#4
:lol-sign: , I lol-ed at 'little shark', cause that's exactly what she is when she wants to play!

Noted about the 'play growling'; i feel silly because it hadn't crossed my mind there were multi-growls.

I heard not to put the puppy in the crate as punishment b/c they'd associate it with bad things. I also heard you shouldn't play tug unless you teach her 'drop it', which i am like clueless of how to do [sounds hard]

and yes, the puppy actually wants to take over the mortgage...I saw her messing with papers last night when we were supposed to be sleeping.. :p

OK I'm convinced that dominance may not be it. If its good enough for ethologists, it good enough for me. But then how ARE we supposed to do it. Time outs don't work. Is 'walking away' the best we can do? I mean, for us, it might even be running away as it nips our heels. The trick with the leash and door handle is interesting though..

Like I said previously its like Wanta doesn't seem to 'get it'. All the time outs in the world, and she bites just like she did the second she gets out. I do play 'sit' with her, and praise her like no other when shes calm. And I give angry signals "aka yipping/growling/ No-ing/eh-ing" when she bites me. It should be incredibly obvious that its bad but she keeps getting more excited.

This is why I think she's 'dominating me'; not in the literal sense, but she's 'challenging me'. She's saying "older brother's scared of me! Haha look how much I can get away with! Haha he's yipping! And he isn't retaliating, I can get away with this!" Then, I just walk away. And she chases me. "positive reinforcement' right there. I highly doubt those statements that 'losing a playmate' is anything to Wanta, because she just happily amuses herself with something else. This is why I said having no punishment options is kinda confusing/frustrating. Although...she does react negativity with 'loss of FREEDOM'. But like I said, she doesn't seem to connect one event with another (AKA biting with loss of freedom) because she bites the second she's out over and over/time and time again. Kinda of like "oh so you penned me up, I'll show you real good now older-brother!"--her face says it all

Although my dog isn't holding me up at a grocery store or stealing my house, IMO it could be easily interpreted that she's learning that if she bites us, we run, and she likes it. Maybe not dominance, but a kind of game...that involves..well, teeth. I thought the whole point of 'bite inhibition' was to teach her that teeth HURTS us. A baby will at least react to a negative OW or scream of pain. Yipping SHOULD be a signal that she's biting too hard. Growling should be a signal that we're pissed. But she keeps doing it, and I suspect its because she's like the bully at school. Principle is like "DETENTION!" and the bully is like "psh..whatever..I"ll be outta here in half an hour, big deal".

As of now, I'm still a little clueless b/c on paper I'm doing all thats being said. The only thing I haven't tried is extending the time-out periods. As of now its like maybe 4 minutes max. I've heard of some dogs getting a timeout for half an hour, anyone have any better ideas?

PS: and thx for the advice, but I feel the 'teaching her down/fetch/tug' has a ginormous 'easier said than done' tag on it. I don't know of many dogs that ever obey their owners with these simple tasks, let alone sit [which implies thats it difficult to do], and I've heard that tug is outta the question until she learns 'drop it' [which sounds harder than sit]. In addition, she doesn't really fetch the balls we throw, which sounds like it also requires 'drop it'.

In chew toys, she loses interest fast. I keep putting in the toys in front of her, but she COMPLETELY runs past them and goes for me. It's like a child thats TIRED of her old toys. But we can't keep giving you new ones, you have like three and you're only 9 weeks old!

I guess the disciplining thing is kinda confusing me, b/c when I was a kid, I would get booted to the moon for this. I can only imagine Wanta socializing with another puppy; it'd be horrendous; if she doesn't listen to our yelping, why would she listen to theirs?

What about all the advice of acting like the mother bitch? I heard mothers can be pretty vicious if their kids are acting like our pup
 
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corgipower

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#5
I heard not to put the puppy in the crate as punishment b/c they'd associate it with bad things. I also heard you shouldn't play tug unless you teach her 'drop it', which i am like clueless of how to do [sounds hard]
You don't want to create negative associations with the crate, but it can still be used as a time out. Just be neutral in your attitude and put her in there.

To teach a drop it, start by giving her a low value toy. When she has it, use a high value treat to trade for the toy. Over time, work your way up to using higher value toys.

the only thing I can do is run somewhere where she can't get me.
Running will excite her as it'll make her want to chase.

And I give angry signals "aka yipping/growling/ No-ing/eh-ing" when she bites me.
She doesn't view them as "angry". Dogs don't understand anger.
 
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#6
I think a huge part of your frustration is because your puppy is still a young baby. Puppies this young do not learn quickly! Just because you try one method and it doesn't work after a week, doesn't necessarily mean it's the wrong method. What Dekka said about letting her drag a leash and hook it to something when she mouthes you while you walk away, will solve the problem of her following and nipping as you leave. You could also just keep her tethered to a piece of furnature, and interract with her there; when she nips you, just get up and leave. One important thing to remember here is to stay unemotional - don't get mad, don't yell, etc. If you start getting frustrated, just leave, don't take it out on your puppy who is simply doing a natural behavior and doesn't know any better.

The whole "don't use crates as punishment!" thing is a little overexaggerated, if you ask me. To me, time out is not so much a "punishment" as just a cooling off period for both you and the dog; she needs to chill out, you need to take a breather. The crate is a good place for a time out as long as you do time out correctly. First, your puppy has to be comfortable in the crate in the first place. If she'll go in freely (or with minimal encouragement) and is comforatable in the crate most of the time, then you can use the crate as time out. When you take her to time out, be unemotional - just grab her leash or carry her to the crate, and put her in and close the door. Don't slam it, don't be rough with her, don't yell at her. Leave her in the crate anywhere from 2-5 minutes... JUST long enough to calm down a few notches. If she's calm, go ahead and let her out of the crate; if she's not calm, wait to let her out until she is. If she goes back to that bad behavior, put her back in the crate for another time out. This is actually good - the more repetitions you have (bite = time out) the quicker she'll figure it out.

Drop it is actually pretty easy to teach. I don't have time to give instructions here, but you can probably find an article on www.clickertraining.com or just do a search on the forum here.
 
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#7
P.S. Puppies nipping is the ONLY reason why I have sworn off getting a puppy, and the main reason why I've chosen a job where I don't ever have to work with puppies! I taught puppy obedience classes for 3 years and I was always SO HAPPY to see those little alligators go home!
 

antipunt1

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thx guys, that actually helps quite a bit =]

I guess you are right; the problem is that I'm having trouble converting human age to dog age. I guess that 9 weeks old is SUPER young; for example, I would never get mad at a teeny baby; I'd just get frustrated and leave the room saying stuff like "when she gets older, oh man". Maybe the problem is that puppies learn very slowly. I didn't like the bite inhibition failure very much b/c Wanta was doing VERY well with learning toward whining and peeing outside. I thought she'd have the capability for avoiding human flesh as well.

Thx for the input: as of now, I'll be a)patient b) try to teach her drop it c) use unemotional time outs 'until she's calm' with the crate and time-out room

PS: also thx lizzy; you brought up a point that I haven't heard that often: which is that "puppies ARE MEANT TO MAKE YOU CRAZY". If I had heard this, it'd make more sense why I was fuming at the little bugger who would bite the one who spends most time with her/feeds her, etc.

So from now on, I will leave the room when frustrated. Who ever knew that PUPPY MANAGEMENT would require an equal dose of ANGER MANAGEMENT

but all aside..i love my puppy...she's cutely sleeping in a box out in the sun right now... i digress

thx again

PSS: But wait, one thing still doesn't check out. If she can get away with this with us, why not with other dogs? Isn't it dangerous for this 'slow progress'? If Wanta plays like this with other puppies/dog, she's gonna get some terrorizing and frightening consequences!
 
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#9
OMG Dekka after our conversation in chat I thought we were on different ends of the stick, but I agree with everything you said.

Punt, I curious why you think a 9 week old puppy is supposed to "get it". I think you are expecting too much. Repetition, teaching wanted behavior (ie. sits, stays, downs, etc.), reinforcing good behaviors while discouraging undesired ones, takes time. A LOT OF TIME. You will have war wounds, but have patience. She will learn and be rest assured that a lot of the mouthing behavior she is exhibiting, she will out grow.
 

antipunt1

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Heyas =] @blackmask
; just to clarify, although I do agree with the expecting too much/not realizing a puppy requires a 'grace period' of trouble-making, the real reason why I was worried wasn't because I was rushing her to 'get it'. It was because she was learning the 'opposite' of what I was trying to teach her.

AKA I said that when I yipped, she got more frenzic. And when I owed and eh-ed, she wanted to play more. It's not merely she wasn't 'getting it', its that she was getting the opposite!

Also, the reason why I was 'expecting too much' was because I was worried she would get herself in trouble as an adult, not to mention that all the videos/help/tabs etc. make it seem like 'yip training' is the panacea of all puppy biting. As Lizzy and everyone else pointed out, this is not really the case.

Thx for the assurance though, but its not the 'mouthing' I'm afraid of. She does GREAt with that! It's the nipping, aka the aggressive games she likes to play. And YIP training seems like an epic-fail to me b/c of how much of the opposite effect it resulted in. Can you imagine how frantic a parent would be if they told their kids to not pull their hair and the 'training' only resulted in them thinking it was a game and pulling harder each day?! kinda like that =P
 
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Maxy24

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#11
The dog does not know she is hurting you, you are a big fun toy, and hey! sometimes you even squeak! for some dogs high pitched yelps makes things worse, you sound like a toy, so stop yelping. Perhaps walking away is not good for her either since she nips at your heels. Try just standing and turning your back on her, then see what she does. Pups can take a long time to "get it" just be consistent. Always have a toy around so she can be redirected to it when you start the play back up again after an ignore period. She needs to chew but you have to make sure you show her what to chew.

I agree with what everyone else has said. Your pup is playing with you, not dominating you. You run from her, push and poke at her, squeak at her it's really all fun stuff.
 

antipunt1

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lol @maxy. GOSH DANGIT..mannn that makes so much sense! [honestly]. DARN those stupid yip training advices I've become a HUMAN SQUEAKY TOY!!! [smashes face into desk]
 

Dekka

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#13
With some dogs it works wonderfully. I have not found it works for JRT pups who don't really care to much if they hurt one another. Ignoring on the otherhand has always worked.

Some people who have breeds/type of dogs who are very socially sensitive often think yelping it the best thing since sliced bread, and tell everyone it will work. I think everyone should try it, but if it doesn't work don't worry.
 
A

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Welcome to the forum!!

Ignoring is a fantastic tool to have. You can use it in MANY ways, from teaching them to stop nipping your heels to teaching them not to jump on people.

As Dekka said, not everything will work. It takes much patience and time to have a nice calm puppy.

I'm not going to repeat anything else that has already been said... just wanted to add that little tidbit above and welcome you!
 

Maxy24

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oh yes, forgot to mention it does work for some dogs, some dogs respond to the yelping but many don't.
 

antipunt1

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#16
thank you for EVERYONE's advice and help; it is flatout great to have such experienced people to guide in this dark, unknown territory.

and speaking of positive outlooks: I have a pretty good feeling about this 'ignoring' tactic, and am going to stick with it for a while. But no matter what, DEFINITELY NO yelping. No fussing. Just a NONEMOTIONAL "ouch" and walk away. If she tries to nip, I can use a strategy where she can't reach us, whether its the leash-doorknob or leaving her on the elevated couch. Seems like the best thing I can do so far. And most importantly I'll learn not to expect anything too soon at all.

Interesting tidbit is the increase of biting when stressed. Today after I gave it a time-out (nonemotional), she just walked into her crate and I realized just how tired she was. I'm guessing that she missed her home and was getting a lil frustrated. Just my guess at puppy reading

PS: gotta be consistent and optimistic! cause DANGGG she bit me HARD today. She was like GNAWING my hand and shaking her head, like she wanted to tear it apart [more war scars]. Totally supporting the 'human squeaky toy' hypothesis. If yelping won't work, and No's and eh's won't work, its gotta be ignoring and distancing. I got a feeling its like the last [and best as of now] resort :p
 

Dekka

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#17
What kind of toys does she have to chew on? And you really want her to switch to non human chews as teething is just around the corner.
 

antipunt1

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We have three chew toys, one pink kong puppy stuff in, one white tied-rope thing, and a blue-skinny round ridged kong chew toy. Out of all these, she likes the rope the best; i think she might be too young or confused to figure the pink one out.

All of everything, she usually bolts past these [bored of them I'm guessing] and goes for the hands or jumps at our face >=P I keep kind of tempting her to bite the chew toys; she does for awhile [like 5 seconds] and then goes for us again
 

Dekka

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#19
the rope is good. you could also try a soft stuffed toy (with or without squeeker.. actually if she loves attacking yelping things a squeeker could be a good idea)

What you have are great toys, but she may be too little to really play with harder chewies.
 

antipunt1

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Nice idea for the soft stuffed. And I agree that she might have to grow up a little to like the harder chews.

I was wondering what the opinions were for hard-growly "No's". For some reason, Wanta never bites my dad. He tells me [and showed me] that its because of his growly No, and that mine were too 'childish and unconvincing'. He might be right. When I shout No I might sound like a girly-man or something.


EDIT: nope never mind.. The hard "No" resulted in failure. It worked maybe the first 1-2 times, but then afterwards she just growls at me. I had to put her in the time-out afterwards
 

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