Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

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BucklesFamily
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Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by BucklesFamily » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:28 am

This about my almost 6 month old lab/hound mix puppy Melian.

I am wondering what to do about her unfortunate tendency to VERY INSISTENTLY jump and nip sometimes when I and/or my mom play with her outside. She has done this pretty much since she got big enough to do it...the first record I have of it is a picture of my torn short from May 4th, so she's done it at least since she was 4 months old.

There seems to be more than one trigger for it. Sometimes it seems to be that she simply gets over excited while playing, so she starts the jump and nip. Other times it's like she gets over tired, but still wants to play, so when my mom or I try to stop play and go inside, she starts up. Or sometimes it seems to be when we are just walking around the backyard looking at something other than her, but she thinks we should be playing with her and that gets her going. Just to be clear, this doesn't happen every time we play outside. Only sometimes.

No matter what the trigger, the action is always the same: She starts jumping at us (either from a standing position or sometimes launching at a full run) and nipping at any body part or clothing item in reach. When she was shorter (4 months old) she aimed for the hem of our shirts and I lost 3 shirts and one raincoat to her ripping a hole in them. I now tuck my shirt in whenever I take her out back to play. Now that she's bigger she can jump higher and the problem is even more of a problem because, not only is there more body weight being thrown at us, she will nip at our arms, hands, stomachs, and even our breasts...whatever she can reach, and leaves bruises and/or scratches if she manages to nip through our clothes. Yesterday evening I made the mistake of going out without wearing my usual hoodie to protect me (it's been very hot lately and she hadn't jumped at me in a couple weeks so I thought maybe she was getting better about it and I didn't have to sweat to death in a hoodie just to play with her... WRONG!), then I made an extra mistake of thinking because she was being so good while we played that meant I could take a break to walk around the yard and check to make sure the fence was secure. She was sitting on the porch when I started walking and I got almost around the whole yard without problem, but then I went around the side of the house and a minute later heard her running and ended up with her running at me full speed, starting the constant jump/nip thing and she actually gave me a small blood blister on the back of my wrist.

Once the jumping/nipping starts it is absolutely constant with the only defense being to knee her in the chest repeatedly to force her down and keep her teeth away. (Half the time I think she thinks this is playing, or at the very least is feeding her need for attention positive or negative, but sometimes it does make her stop...Only sometimes.) However, if I have something on that protects my arms, twice now I've managed to turn my back with my arms crossed tight over my chest to protect myself while 100% ignoring her no matter where she nipped and that made her stop.

The problem when she did this yesterday evening was that I had nothing on my arms and was literally all the way at the opposite end of the yard from the back door when she started it. Had I turned my back and tried to walk away, she would have nipped bare skin on the back of my arms and, as my arms are flabby and the skin is thinnest on the back, she could have drawn blood. After kneeing her down multiple times only to have her keep going, I finally had no choice but to resort to grabbing the scruff of her neck and her collar at the same time (to keep her from twisting to mouth my arm to get me off) and pulling her with me across the yard, up the steps, and then forcing her to stay outside alone while I squeezed through the door.

These incidents are always frustrating to an extreme, but this particular incident was upsetting to me because when she and I were playing fetch before I decided to stop and walk around the yard, we were both really having fun. But when she started jumping and nipping, I couldn't get her to stop, and realized I had no jacket to protect my bare arms I was truly getting scared she was going to tear my skin.

I believe she does this as pushy "I wanna do what I wanna do and I wanna make you do it too" play as she seems to have a blast doing it. But it is upsetting and potentially harmful enough that my mother has sworn she won't play with Melian outside by herself anymore after the last time Melian did it to her (about a week ago) and mom got bruised through the sweater she was wearing and got a blood blister. If we happen to be playing with her outside together we've agreed that if she jumps at one of us like that the other person will call her and make her do something else because that has worked in the past, but what about when I'm out there playing with her by myself?

What can I do to break Melian of this annoying, frustrating, and dangerous pushy play? I've seen another thread here where someone with a similar problem was told to 100% ignore the dog, cease all play and go inside. Like I said, that does seem to work IF I'm wearing something that protects me, but if I should get caught without anything to protect my arms again, is it okay that I grabbed her scruff the way I did yesterday evening? Is there anything else I could try? I really hate that she does this and hate that it has made my mom not want to play with her alone, and that I have to wear something to protect myself from her just in case, no matter how hot it is outside. I would like to get it stopped entirely and as soon as possible.

-Elizabeth

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by JudyN » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:40 am

I haven't got the time to reply properly right now, but could you give a link to the thread(s) you've read about this problem? I expect it was me who gave the advice there, and I don't want to repeat myself and suggest things you've already tried.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by BucklesFamily » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:26 am

JudyN wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:40 am
I haven't got the time to reply properly right now, but could you give a link to the thread(s) you've read about this problem? I expect it was me who gave the advice there, and I don't want to repeat myself and suggest things you've already tried.
I did a search, but am having trouble finding the same thread again. I did, however, find this thread https://positively.com/forum/viewtopic. ... ps#p127851 where someone was having troubles with a persistently nipping puppy and someone there linked to this post https://positively.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=13934 about time-outs and persistency. From that second post, it sounds like, if putting on a hoodie to protect myself enough that I can ignore her, and ignoring her works, then I should keep doing that as best as I am able to do it and hope it gets the message across? And, it sounds like maybe my mom's and my idea of going out together and one of us calling her off if she starts nipping the other person might be a good strategy as well? I am still open to more suggestions if you have them, though. :)

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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by JudyN » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:12 pm

Thank you :D Yes, I'd agree with what was said in those threads. My arms were black and blue when Jasper was young as he would grab them - I wore a denim jacket all through summer to give me some protection. And turning my back and ignoring him, absolutely consistently, is what worked in the end.

In the garden, I did my best to keep close to the door when playing with him so I could nip in the moment he kicked off. But what really helped was carrying something large with me like a watering can or rubber trug. If he came at me with that look in his eye, I'd simply hold it in front of me to block him - he rarely even made contact with it, he just realised that he wouldn't be able to jump up and stopped trying. It really did work like magic, so I hope it works for you to :D

Kneeing her in the chest and grabbing her by the scruff of the neck may be necessary in the moment, but whether she views them as part of the game or not, they're likely to get her more worked up and won't teach her to stop doing it. One good thing about the watering-can technique is that the dog will be using their own self-control. You can help her develop her self-control if you search for a video called 'It's Yer Choice' on YouTube - her knowing that you don't want her to jump up on you is one thing, her having the ability to restrain herself when she's worked up is another thing entirely.

If that method doesn't work quite so well for you, you could leave a lightweight house lead (with no loop) on her in the garden and when she looks like she's going to jump up, you can stand on it so she's not able to do so. Then you can wait till she settles down, and praise her and give her a treat for 'calm' behaviour. At one time on walks, my dog would belt up to me with 'that' look in his eye, turn away at the last moment, and then ask for a treat - which of course he got!

She's still very young. The bad thing about this is that it might be a long time before you manage to 'fix' her overexuberant behaviour (and she might yet develop some new ones :shock: ), but the good thing is that she will, eventually, mature and has plenty of time to learn.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by BucklesFamily » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:22 pm

Thank you, Judy. It makes me feel a lot better to know you had success with the ignoring method. My mom and I both like the idea of carrying something like a watering can to help block her, too. We'll do our best to be consistent and patient!

I'll definitely look up that "It's Yer Choice" video. The most I've done with teaching her impulse control so far is teaching her to wait before eating a treat I leave on the floor, and the "leave it" command. It will be great to have something else to work on. :)

Thanks so much!

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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by JudyN » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:15 am

I hope it works for you! Look upon these months as a great excuse to update your wardrobe... :lol:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Kiwidog
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by Kiwidog » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:39 am

Hi I am new to this forum, We have a border collie cross puppy (about 6 months) who sometimes does the same as your lab puppy. I have heard it is best to avoid saying no to an unwanted behaviour but it seems to work with Luna if i say it in a slow way while stopping and turning my back. She gets very excitable at the beach and would run at my kids and jump up to bite their arms. I got them to tuck their arms up under their arms, stop running, turn away and say no. I just wonder is saying no a definite no no :D and if so what the reason is for this?

thanks!

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by JudyN » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:02 am

Hi Kiwidog :D

Two reasons for not saying no are (a) it doesn't tell the dog what you want him to do, and (b) most people say it angrily/scarily so it doesn't help their bond with the dog. It's generally much better to get the dog to do something he wants to do (and you want him to do) than stop him doing something he wants to do.

However, dogs are very individual and it sounds as if you're not using an angry tone of voice - plus it's working for you :D Some dogs are so sensitive you only need to raise an eyebrow at them and they get worried, some - like mine - just don't seem to respond to 'no'. They can be more driven by urges than commands, and saying 'no' won't give them to urge to do a different behaviour to the unwanted one. It can also increase a dog's frustration level so his behaviour can become worse rather than better. I hope that makes sense - my morning coffee hasn't kicked in yet and my dog says it's time to go out...

By the time my dog was a year old he had picked up a large vocabulary and generally did what I asked, but seemed to have no concept of 'no' whatsoever :lol:
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by Nettle » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:12 am

"No" means nothing to a dog. It's just a noise people make when they are cross with it. Much better to use a specific word for each behaviour we want and reward it (rewards don't have to be food) when we get it. :)
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Kiwidog
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by Kiwidog » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:09 pm

Thanks for those replies - I also found this last night which helped me understand why more...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... BvPaqMZyo8

So have started this morning with a clicking sound to divert her attention and reward her for looking at me - so far so good.

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by JudyN » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:24 pm

Kikopup is an excellent trainer - you chose well :D
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Ari_RR
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Re: Lab puppy sometimes jumps/nips while playing outside

Post by Ari_RR » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:58 am

For what it’s worth, IMHO any reaction to jumping/nipping is rewarding for the puppy, even if meant to be discouraging... not only she got to jump and nip, she also got her human huffing and puffing :-)

So, no reaction was the way to go for us, when outside. Long sleeves help. I would just have to freeze, fold my arms, wait it out.

Had to keep an eye on good hearted neighbors who at times were ready to intervene and save me from the vicious beast :-)

I would never resort to kneeing the dog, unless I completely lost control of the situation, but this to me is pretty bad - this becomes either fun (if you are still somewhat gentle) or you become really scary for the dog (if you completely lost it). Not good either way.

Timeouts worked great inside. Keep in mind- timeout doesn’t necessarily mean dragging the dog into the laundry room and locking her in there. You can just get up and leave yourself, this this is just as good as a time-out.

But the real key though is prevention and redirecting before she gets into the jump’n’nip state. Pay closer attention to her, and you will start noticing “that look”, then do something different (fetch ball) and reward.

All that said, now that my RR boy is almost 8 y.o. - I miss dearly those days when he wanted to jump and nip and do all kinds of other crazy things. She will grow out of this stage soon enough.

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