Puppy biting too hard when playing

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Theo
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 6:03 am

Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by Theo » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:20 pm

Hello all :-)
My little female westie Kelta who is today exactly 8 weeks old has something of an issue with biting down too hard when playing.

One reason may be that she did not stay with her mom until she was 8 weeks (I have had her for 7 days now - she came to me at 7 weeks more or less), the other that obviously she is a puppy and this is a normal way for them to experience the world i.e. biting and chewing.

I tried yelping like another puppy when she bites me but that seems to only excite her even more and prompt her to bite harder. I tried to stand still and ignore the biting so as to show her this is not an interesting activity for her but really her little shark teeth hurt too much and I can't hold still.

I got a trainer btw (we will have ten 2-hour lessons one every week for the next 10 weeks) and she said the following:
a) that to some extent we should be happy Kelta is acting and playing like that because that shows she is a normal healthy pup
b) that Kelta getting more excited when I yelp is the case with some dogs especially with hunting breeds like the westie. Other breeds might have stopped she said at the yelp. Not a westie.
c) she suggested that whenever KElta bites to yelp and to leave the room thus stopping her game. I am trying this but not with spectacular results.
d) she also said that sometimes I should give Kelta timeouts if she bites too hard putting her in her crate for 20 secs and letting her out only if she is not whining to be let out.
e) to get a spray bottle with water and spray her when she bites
f) to get some nylabones for her to chew on and keep her mind on those.

I am happy doing the thing with the bones and leaving the room but somewhat dubious about the spray bottle and the timeouts in her crate. I had read that the crate should never be used as a punishment no? Isn't this using it as a punishment? And also the spray bottle? is that a legitimate method to use?

In my desperation (20 mins ago she bit my foot hard enough to puncture the skin, second time this happened in the 7 days she is here. the other time was on my hand 4 days ago or so) I tried something I read online about acting like her mum does and I picked her up and growled at her. For what it's worth it worked BUT I am troubled. Am I damaging my dog's development in some way by doing this? Breaking her trust? Making her agressive?

Thank you for your help. very much appreciated.

p.s. on the plus side the little shark has learned to poop outside already :-) we are also working on her getting to recognize her name.

Ari_RR
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by Ari_RR » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:37 pm

For what it's worth - your instincts are spot on.. Redirection and short timeouts. I would suggest you keeping some chewable toys, nilabones or ropes, everywhere, within easy reach..

Think of it as a game for you, very interesting even if painful at times :lol: - keep looking for signs of her going into a biting frenzy. You win if you can see biting coming before it happens, and give her a toy.

This ability to notice signs and triggers, and prevent or redirect before an undesirable action takes place - this will be invaluable when she get a little bigger.

Good luck! But looks like you are doing just fine.

JudyN
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by JudyN » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:26 am

I would forget the yelping as it's not working for you, and certainly avoid any punitive methods. Make sure you have a soft/rope toy at all times to distract her and stuff in her mouth before she puts her teeth on you. When she does bite, as Ari said, use very short timeouts - don't use her crate but you leave the room and shut the door/close the stairgate, which may well be easier than removing her. This only has to be 5-10 seconds, which means you can get an awful lot of repetitions in :wink: It will take time because she is still absolutely a baby with little or no self-control but if you're really consistent you will get there. And the first time you see her going for your ankle and then hesitating (even if her self-control then fails her and she attaches herself to you) will be a turning point as you'll realise that the message really is getting through.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Suzette
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by Suzette » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:45 am

I totally agree with Ari and Judy. When my dog was a puppy, if I could head the nipping/biting off at the pass (in other just before it happened) I would gently put a toy or bully stick near or in her mouth and she would almost always happily gnaw on that instead of me. But if she did get me with her teeth, I immediately did what Judy suggests by getting up and leaving the room for 10-15 seconds, then coming back in as if nothing had happened. I did not yelp (it worked her up more) or scold her in any way. Just quietly and immediately got up and left.

You will repeat this too many times to count and yes, it becomes tedious after awhile, but it truly does work when you are totally consistent. It takes time, but you will get there and you then you will be rewarded with a dog who has a soft mouth for the rest of his/her life. :D
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

Theo
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by Theo » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:37 pm

Thank you all very much indeed. I have been putting into effect the getting up and leaving the room method and here's to hoping it works.

As I am writing I just had to repeat it 6 times...the first 5 times as soon as I came back into the room she immediatelly went for my feet and nipped. The 6th time I found her busy chewing on a plastic wheel from a piece of furniture and she ignored my coming in. I would have preferred her coming up to me and not biting but thank goodness for small favors I suppose :-)

Consistency as you say and much patience :-) Thanks again. I will report on future behaviour of the little land shark :-)

JudyN
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by JudyN » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:48 pm

Theo wrote:As I am writing I just had to repeat it 6 times...the first 5 times as soon as I came back into the room she immediatelly went for my feet and nipped. The 6th time I found her busy chewing on a plastic wheel from a piece of furniture and she ignored my coming in.
Progress already... of a kind! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

mum24dog
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by mum24dog » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:41 am

A few things -
2 hour training sessions are far too long for a tiny pup, even if much of the time is taken by teaching you.
Don't use the crate as a place of punishment. You want it to be a place where your pup is happy.
Westies are not a "hunting breed". They are a show type of terrier and haven't ever been working dogs in the form they are now; they'd get stuck down holes for one thing.
Beware of a trainer who tells you to spray your pup. You could end up with a fearful dog or one that reacts aggressively.

mum24dog
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by mum24dog » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:47 am

Meant to add that you are clearly on the right lines to have spotted the questions over the crate and water bottle. Dog training is about attitude more than anything and if something feels wrong it probably is.

MaeFlowers
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by MaeFlowers » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:24 am

Hope you don't mind if I hijack your post a little, but it seemed silly to make a whole new one to ask the same basic thing. Does anyone have any ideas on what to do when you can't leave the room every 2 seconds? Such as in the morning when I have a ton of things to do and no time to do it and my puppy spends the whole time gnawing on my legs?

I've tried replacing me with a toy and she's great as long as I keep playing with it while she chews, but as soon as I drop it she goes back for my foot or leg. If you try to pull her away she gets growly and more aggressive about the biting. She draws blood from my foot or leg at least once a day now.

At first it was just feet, so I started wearing shoes in the house, but now she goes for my legs instead. Especially liking to do a sharp bite at the back of my knee, very painful.

Right now I have been trying to put her outside as much as possible, but that's not always possible, and trying to walk around with 10+ pound puppy hanging off of my jeans is just silly.

JudyN
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by JudyN » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:11 pm

MaeFlowers wrote:Hope you don't mind if I hijack your post a little, but it seemed silly to make a whole new one to ask the same basic thing. Does anyone have any ideas on what to do when you can't leave the room every 2 seconds? Such as in the morning when I have a ton of things to do and no time to do it and my puppy spends the whole time gnawing on my legs?
How long do you have to 'do stuff' for? If she's not already, I would accustom her to spending time entertaining herself with a Kong, chew toys, cardboard box full of tiny treats in scrunched up paper, and so on, either behind a gate or in a crate. Then, while she's occupied, sprint round and do everything as fast as you can so you can devote the rest of the time to being 100% consistent.

Sounds easy in theory...
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

MaeFlowers
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Re: Puppy biting too hard when playing

Post by MaeFlowers » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:42 pm

I'll give it a try, thanks. She's a screamer though when she's unhappy, which I can't have at 6am when we live in a fourplex with neighbours. I've never had a dog that screamed quite like Daisy. She's special :wink: :roll:

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