Bite Inhibition and other training (rather long question- sorry)
Hi All, Gabbar is 17 weeks old (4 months and 1 week). He is a very smart puppy. Has learnt sit, down, stand, does “leave it” with food really well, sits and waits for “okay” for meals and does handshake greetings when said “Hello” to (the only thing my husband taught him to do…hehe). As you all know, he was a major biter. I remember sending a thread out when he was 11 weeks old and was literally crying while typing. Nothing had worked, until we used the time out process and it took a couple of weeks, but eventually he eased off. He doesn’t run up to us and bite us any more, he doesn’t chase us biting when we walk away from him any more (thank god). My question today is he still mouths lightly when playing, like when you get on the floor with him and you’re cuddling him etc…. I say “no bite” still it takes him a few minutes but he backs off. But considering he still mouths playfully (wrinkle nose light biting and grabbing while on his back), Should I just now do bite inhibition by now say “no bite” and withdrawing whenever he does put contact of skin and clothes as now we have brought it down to a light and only invitation scenario? He does however wrinkles nose and lightly snaps at us when you’re holding him back from getting at something or if you say no when hes doing something bad (pulling at table cloth, mouthing table leg, etc). This brings us to the second issue: apart from food, its hard to tell Gabbar “leave it” to other items. Like the table cloth, mouthing dining table leg, etc. How should I teach this? And is it normal puppy behaviour to bite and play tug of war with every item in the house?( i.e Curtains).
Appreciate your insight as you are all experienced owners.
I love this forum! It helped us out so much finding it and reading stories about other puppies that were doing the exact same thing as ours. Husker is now 7mos and to this day saying "No bite" or "No" or "Ouch" means nothing. It only makes him bare his teeth more, raise his hair and start snapping. It's like those are play words and they have never worked. Nor did ignoring or walking away from him, that only meant you were going to get nipped at. Luckily all of that has calmed down and rarely does he go thru his "land shark" phase. When he does he gets squirted with a water bottle (water only). It is the only thing that works (besides a shock collar, but we don't like to use that).
Husker does like to mouth our hands or arms on occasion and when he does we say "Easy" and he'll be very gentle or stop. He's told "Easy" too when receiving a treat. We do not give him his treats if he tries to take it fast, snap it, etc. He has to sit or shake, whatever command we've given him and then we say "Easy" and he very gently takes the treat from our hand.
Maybe try that command for the mouthing, especially if "no bite" gets the wrong reaction. Luckily for us Husker has never went after objects like the curtains, etc. We do use "leave it" for the cat (who is 18 and absolutely dislikes the dog) and such. Have you tried a water bottle? For Husker it only takes one squirt and at his body, not his face or head, and he stops whatever he is doing. Can't hurt to try it, it is only water. : )
It's definitely worth trying the water bottle again. We use a tiny bit of vinegar mixed in, and just spray it at the nose/mouth - not the eyes. We reached a turning point a couple of weeks back (at about the same time he was neutered) and I can say we rarely have to squirt the water bottle. Just leaving them out in visible places is enough to settle him if he gets too wound up. He's going on 8 and a half months now- it has taken us THAT LONG to get through this! So don't be discouraged. Your pup is still very young. Our Tucker was at his VERY WORST between 4 and 5 months. And we could see why - blood was all over his toys as his baby teeth were falling out everywhere and new ones were coming in - definitely part of the problem! Anyway, good luck - it WILL get better.
All play stops when puppy teeth touch your clothes or skin. Gabbar will eventually realize all fun stops when his teeth come in contact with you. I would still say ouch (not loudly or squeely as it may up his arousal level of excitement) just ouch and stop play for about 30 seconds. If that doesn't work I would get up and leave for a minute each time his mouth touches skin or clothes.
I would start teaching a tug and release game with Gabbar. Using lots of fun toys. Get Gabbar to tug for about 15 seconds then present a bribe of food. Do this five or so times then add in the word release. Have Gabbar tug again for about 15 seconds or so say release (without the reward in view) and as soon as he releases say yes and present the reward. Do the second scenario about 5 times or so each session and do it 3 or 4 times a day. This game isn't about an all out tug of war game between you two but teaching Gabbar to have a release word and help with giving him an off switch when he grabs items and tugs on them. Once he releases say good boy (no high reward for releasing the table cloth itself but then say leave it. Then give a high reward for the leave it. Over time you can apply it to his tugging at the table cloth but make sure you give high rewards for the tug game itself.
Reading this back I am not sure this part is clearly stated.
"Once he releases say good boy (no high reward for releasing the table cloth itself but then say leave it. Then give a high reward for the leave it. Over time you can apply it to his tugging at the table cloth but make sure you give high rewards for the tug game itself"
The part I quoted is what to do after you have trained and have gotten a good release during training. Then this can be applied to your problem times.
So continue to practice your leave it training on its own. Then during the day at another time practice the tug and release game. Eventually they can be used together to solve the tugging problem.
For some dogs tugging can be super arousing and fun and is a major reward in itself. It makes them happy and floods their little brain with lots of endorphins. Gabbar is self rewarding and it is a higher value than your leave it reward. Working the tug game using the release word will transfer some of that happy endorphins for you.
A Dog Is A Commitment For The Life Of The Dog
Last edited by solinvictus; 02-08-2012 at 09:46 AM.
I taught my puppy not to bite by when he started to bite my fingers, I would push my fingers further into his mouth (remember those little puppy teeth really only hurt when you pull away quickly) until he started to gag. After just a few times, he decided it wasn't nearly so fun to bite. I also teach use a loud throat clearing noise to signal my pups when they are doing something undesirable. It seems to get their attention.