6 month old snapping/biting (not puppy nips) - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums

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Old 10-29-2010, 08:22 PM
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6 month old snapping/biting (not puppy nips)

I thought I'd post this here rather than in puppies because many of you may have btdt. Sawyer is just 6 months old and in has gotten really "snappy" at me when I am trying to correct him from something (like when he jumps for instance). He doesn't do this all the time.

He is still somewhat mouthy, particularly around my husband's hands.

I give him a firm "no" when I see his snout crinkle and he's ready to snap. I gentle put my hand toward him and ask him for a "kiss". Usually after a couple tries he gets it and behaves.

My problem is he is getting snappy and bitey with my kids. He wants to jump and play with them all the time but he can be really inappropriate. I do not let him jump all over them and correct him when he jumps or nips. Sometimes he responds well, sometimes he snaps at me. He snapped and bit my 6 year old's face tonight . He didn't draw blood but there is a mark that is just under his eye. My son hadn't done anything to provoke him...in fact he was walking from the kitchen to the living room when it happend and we were all right there!!

I'm mad about it and feel like something's just not connecting, you know? I don't think he did it agressively necessarily but it wasn't just in play either. Not sure how to explain it.

Right now Sawyer is not in obedience (he's been to puppy class) as the only available class is on a night of the week that we have a family commitment. That doens't mean I am not training him. I use training methods I read about here and I've also sought advice from the trainer where I was taking him (not for this yet). I use positive methods and treats. If he doens't calm down we have put him in his crate. If he barks and barks, I know he's wound up. If he's quiet and falls asleep I know it may have been because he was tired. However, there's not necessarily any rhyme or reason.

I have 4 and 6 year old boys. They are not docile children, nor do I expect them to be. We are making sure that they understand what we are trying to teach the puppy and how they should interact with him. My 6 year old is coming along really nicely and Sawyer actually responds to him well when he asks him to do something (sit, get down, etc). My 4 year old is more difficult but is getting better.

I don't want to put my kids in a potentially dangerous situation (and I don't because they aren't alone with him for any length of time), however tonight everyone was right in the immediate vicinity.

Thoughts? Recommendations??
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Old 10-29-2010, 08:27 PM
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1) I would highly recommend you contact a qualified professional and/or veterinary behaviorist. This is a situation that warrants more than internet help.
2) I would stop the punishment ("No's, etc). Think more about preventing the problem behaviors than correcting him when he misbehaves.
3) Keep up the supervision of kids and dogs. EXCELLENT job of that at this point!
4) There is a good possibility that this is not "aggression" but "inappropriate response." But again, we can't tell from the descriptions alone.
5) Go further for training class or set up privates with a qualified professional.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:02 PM
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Thank you. What are some markers to determine whether it's agression or just inappropriate response? My feeling at this point is the latter but I don't know enough about dogs to have an educated opinion. I am going to contact the trainer.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:21 PM
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Sorry, I know you must be upset. Jaro is also 6 months and can be jumpy on my grandson when he (Jaro) is in one of his zoomy moods. So far no snapping mouthiness when he does it, but I think kids seem more like playmates than leaders to puppies. Maybe if you have your sons do the feeding, putting the food down, it will help. Do the boys know "be a tree" when the dog jumps or they don't want to play?
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedDogs View Post
1) I would highly recommend you contact a qualified professional and/or veterinary behaviorist. This is a situation that warrants more than internet help.
2) I would stop the punishment ("No's, etc). Think more about preventing the problem behaviors than correcting him when he misbehaves.
3) Keep up the supervision of kids and dogs. EXCELLENT job of that at this point!
4) There is a good possibility that this is not "aggression" but "inappropriate response." But again, we can't tell from the descriptions alone.
5) Go further for training class or set up privates with a qualified professional.
Great advice!
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:40 AM
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It sounds like he is an exciteable adolescent Golden who wants to play and is testing his limits. It also appears to me that he is treating the kids as if they are playmate, other puppies, and not as human beings who must be respected.

Training is key. You need to be able to redirect this behaviour and interrupt it before it escalates. Sit and down are valuable tools for this. He must also understand that it is NEVER acceptable for him to touch people with his teeth. My youngster will engage in rough play with my other dogs but would not dream of putting his mouth on me. He understands this so well that when we were doing his hold/fetch training for field work and he accidentally touched my hand that was holding the end of the bumper he jumped back! Your responses to his zany outburst must be calm and quiet. They really do read off of our energy and if you get loud or angry it is likely that his excitement level will also increase.

If your original school does not have a class available that is convenient check out other options, like possibly some private lessons with your instructor. Your children should be involved in the obedience activities. He is still at the age when he can learn the ropes to be a good family member, but the longer you allow this to contimue the more it will become an ingrained behaviour and the harder it will be to extinguish.

This is what I do with my own youngsters (and send home in the training packet with my puppies). With an older pup you will have to modify it by wearing a pair of heavy gloves, but being proactive here is going to be necessary as it has been going on so long:

Mouthing—these are retrievers so you can expect them to put things, including your hands, in their mouths! Do not mistake mouthing for aggression or biting. A pup uses its mouth the way we use our hands. However, you can easily teach your pup this is inappropriate. I offer to put my fingers IN the pup’s mouth and when s/he chomps down I give a big “YIPE!!!” of a yelp just like a puppy who has been hurt. Pup should immediately spit out the hand. Then I offer the hand again right away. If pup declines to chew my hand, I give lots of praise. Repeat the exercise 2-3 times/day until the pup consistently declines to take the hand in its mouth. If your pup is grabbing at your hands in the meantime do not pull away--instead push your hand in deeper so that puppy will try to spit your hand out. Pulling away only encourages that chase and grab instinct.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:51 AM
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You've gotten some good advice.

For getting the kids to help train, personally I am just starting my son now on some things, mainly helping with Storee with some games. He can take a treat and get Bender out of the kitchen but this is new stuff.

Some of the things he's doing is putting their food in the crates, the two younger dogs have to keep their paws in the crate while he does this, or I have them sit across the room while he does it. I also have Storee sit and wait while he hides her toy, then he comes back and I send her to go find it.

In general I don't set up the rough play with the kids, if they're playing rough she's doing a settle down/stay type thing. At the most it's him throwing a bumper for her to retrieve, but anything that means her and a kid running at the same time generally ends up with the kid going flying. Not that she's meaning to do so but she's just a wild dog when she plays.

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Old 10-30-2010, 11:01 AM
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My boy is also 6 months and is sill quite nippy! He got better for a while but started again when he entered the teenage phase! I still think it's quite normal, many pups are still nippy on occasion when they're a year old!

My boy is particularly energetic and bites/attacks when he is over excited. He's actually given me a nose bleed before when he launched himself at me once! It's not aggresion, you can tell aggression as the growl is different, like a warning growl. I know it's upsetting but it's also normal! Sawyer is testing you all out, testing the limits you put on him! Now is the time to be consistent in whichever method you use - I say 'eh eh' and leave the room or get him into a sit (although if he is really excited then that doesn't work!) It will pay off in the end.

Good luck!
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:36 AM
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puppy biting

I am so glad to see that others are going through the same thing I am because I get a little concerned about it. I have a 6 month old golden who jumps and bites also. He seemed to be getting better then started up again full force. I also see blood when he is chewing on things so I assume its because he is teething. The tapping on the nose makes is worse and if it gets too bad I will put him in his crate to calm down. I am also looking into obedience class.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:51 AM
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Rose is not so nippy but she does play with her mouth quite a bit. I have always allowed her to nip on my hands and she knows that when I lay down with her on the floor she can "help" herself. I mostly did that so she can develop a soft mouth. When she gets playful and I don't have time I open the fridge door. She knows where the goodies hide and one piece of chicken or turkey can go a LONG way - especially when she has to sit, lay down, whoa (stay) and around. 10 min of that and she is happy afterwards to watch the birds outside or chew on her bone.
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