Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My golden retriever puppy is 4 months old. He’s overall a very sweet dog and knows sit, down, come, and leave it. However, he’s very mouthy and has been since he was very young. The first three weeks I had him were kind of a shock – I had expected more of a cuddly puppy, but he was very rough with his biting and was constantly breaking the skin and drawing blood. He’s not aggressive when biting, though– by all indications, his body language suggests he believes I am a giant puppy who was put on Earth to play with him.

The problem is that he was doing really well with his bite inhibition until recently. For the past few months, we’ve spent a lot of time working on it. I’ve used the technique of yelping when he bites, then standing up and ignoring him for a minute, as well as redirecting with toys. I’ve also tried to address his behavior a bit by working on his impulse control (he seems to get frustrated kind of easily) as well as doing some hand feeding to teach him to be gentle with hands. So, he was doing well and hadn’t drawn blood or given me bruises with his bites in weeks. And then… cold weather season came around, and I started to wear long-sleeved shirts. This was bad news, as my puppy is fascinated with clothes and is constantly going after socks, shirts, pants, shoes – everything. The minute I donned a sweatshirt, he started jumping at the sleeves like Christmas had come early.

Now his bites are breaking the skin and drawing blood again, even without the long-sleeved clothing. I did an at-home training session with a behaviorist to address a food guarding issue, and she noted that his biting is more often an attention seeking behavior than typical puppy nipping. She recommended responding to all bites by using the yelp and ignore method or using time-outs. But, now that he’s breaking the skin again, I’m wondering if I should allow soft bites when he's not applying pressure to teach him boundaries first rather than focusing on stopping the biting altogether. Or would this just teach him that biting is acceptable, since his preferred position would be to sit in my lap with my hand in his mouth?

Is this typical for 4-month-old puppies? Am I doing something I shouldn't be doing or not doing something I should be doing? Other information: bitter apple spray and the spray bottle have very limited, short-term effects. Time-outs don’t seem to calm him down much. We don’t play tug of war games.
 

·
Kate
Joined
·
22,661 Posts
Are you going to obedience classes with him?

Persistent mouthing or mouthing habits that cause bruises - I can understand. Jacks is a very sweet dog, but still has the tendancy to mouth when over stimulated. When he is over tired or over excited or over hyped up, he needs to have something in his mouth or he will mouth my arms and legs. Because I'm anemic, I bruise very easily.

But I find it pretty appalling that he's breaking your skin with these bites. It doesn't mean your pup is bad or aggressive, but it does (to me) mean that this is getting a little dangerous, especially as his jaw is getting bigger. I would recommend really discussing appropriate correction methods. He should understand "NO BITE" and "LEAVE IT".

I can't recommend any corrections on a website or even private messages over a website, because many of the appropriate corrections can just worsen the situation or be too much if not trained carefully in person by a balanced and knowledgable instructor.

The most important thing I can recommend over a website without showing you in person is that you know when he's reaching that point where he's getting too hyped up. And that is when you take a gentle but firm hold of him and calm him down. You can stroke his head and sides if that helps, slow and firm strokes. I would even take a hold of his face and look him in the face and tell him, "No bite, calm down". Speak slowly, low voice, gentle, calm.

When I come home from work, I generally grab something like a toy or even empty water bottles to hand to Jacks before I let him out of the house. Because he will be very excited and happy to see me and already past the point where he so happy he can't control his mouth. Putting something in his mouth stops the "mouthing for joy" behavior and saves me from more bruises.

The same thing is true of our collie who definitely does have a hard bite that will draw blood and rip clothes. And again, this is a dog whose instincts and drive push him to nip when over stimulated. So playing with him is something that has to be carefully done, because he quickly goes across that threshold and gets out of control with his mouth. I don't use the same corrections with him that I would with Jacks, simply because it takes a milder correction to stop him, and he can't take the same amount of correction that I need with a thicker skinned golden retriever.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the reply.

I am taking him to obedience classes. Actually, we've been to two different puppy classes by two different trainers. The first class offered little to no instruction on bite inhibition, and the trainer didn't offer much suggestion whenever she saw my puppy get excited and start biting. We stopped going to that class. The second class (which we're currently enrolled in) is much more helpful.

We also take a long walk every day, play fetch in the yard, and do many short training sessions throughout the day.

I also thought his biting was over-the-top, but everyone's assured me it's just something puppies go through and he's just "doing what normal puppies do." Then we go to the puppy classes and see the other puppies, and they are not nearly as crazy as mine. My puppy is cute, but raising a puppy is not exactly what I expected it to be.

I'll try your suggestion for calming him down. In regards to other methods: my vet recommended holding his mouth closed, but that gets him more worked up. And aversive methods (like the leash corrections my first trainer practiced on him to prevent jumping, which worked but made my puppy afraid of her for the next three classes) don't seem to work at all on him and make me uncomfortable too. He doesn't really understand "no bite" despite hearing it all the time, but he will often stop biting at the command "leave it" (sometimes it takes a repetition for him to listen). The problem is that he stops biting, but he's already broken the skin.

Maybe it's time to call the behaviorist back again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,491 Posts
I have the same problem with my 5 month old. He seems to get over stimulated if I try to play with him and sometimes I can't help but to play tug when I try to offer toys instead of my hands. I do give him time outs when he gets like that and some times I have to do a few short time outs in a row. He has his adult teeth now so my skin does not get punctured as much as when he had his baby teeth.

I have alway allowed my dogs on the couch and he likes to climb all over me when he plays. I read in one of my books that puppies should not be allowed on the couch and now I wish I had followed that advice. I just love to cuddle on the couch. In the morning, Vinnie is very sweet and cuddly.

I was just wondering today if I should use the leave it command when he tries to bite me but I was taught that they can never be allowed to have something they are told to leave so I'm not sure if that would be appropriate.

I'll be following this thread for more advice.
 

·
Kate
Joined
·
22,661 Posts
The problem with "aversive training" is generally the translation and application.

You may have instructors who have no balanced way of handling different dogs and different situations.

And the same thing happens with people when they are upset or don't understand exactly the information behind certain methods. So they do not use the correct amount of pressure or praise or timing when using certain methods.

Praise and timing are extremely important in balancing out corrections. If you correct a dog the instant he does something wrong, you have to praise and reward the dog the INSTANT he does something right. The better your timing, the fewer corrections necessary. And the amount of pressure applied always depends on the dog. You do not want to nag or abuse your dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I met with someone today. She recommended the alpha roll and training him on a choke collar. She advertised herself as using a positive approach to training, and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m not going to alpha roll my dog.

She impressed upon me the fact that the problem is I’m just spoiling my puppy and he’s just trying to bully me – even though this problem had disappeared until last week! He is my first dog (although I always had dogs growing up), but I’m not sure that I spoil him. He’s not allowed on furniture (this week, he finally learned to get down on command) and he follows the “nothing in life is free” program. He has to sit for everything – food, toys, before his leash gets put on. I don’t give him attention when he’s biting and I wait until he is sitting quietly.

She emphasized that he’s getting bigger and I need to take care of this now, or he’ll give me a dangerous bite and I’ll want to get rid of him. Getting rid of him hadn’t even occurred to me. I definitely have to put more work into training him than any dog I ever had growing up, but he is pretty sweet, and he is learning and increasingly more well-behaved, and it’s not like I’m going to just cast him out on the streets.

So I left feeling a little hopeless. I don’t know, maybe she’s right and I’m not the right type of owner for my puppy, but I’m willing to try different things.

As a sidenote: this morning, I found two teeth in the kitchen, so I do know he’s teething. Would that cause harder biting? At any rate, I’m going to call the behaviorist I like and set up another appointment. I didn’t expect to leave the session feeling this bad about how things were going with my puppy, but maybe it is a lot worse than I thought.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,582 Posts
One thing about the puppy teeth, they are razor sharp but the adult versions are not nearly as bad. But like you said...teaching the puppy not to be mouthy is important.

My Rusty who is going to be 4 months old is a lot better now. I have been training him (leave it is your best friend!), and Rusty is not as mouthy as he used to be. With people he meets, their hands and arms go into his mouth, but it's all playing around. Even tho I stop Rusty I have yet to see any skin break yet.

I have had a few good cuts, and Rusty still tries and test me but he is a lot better now. I do think he will out grow it, but I still don't let Rusty get away with it if I can help it
 

·
Arthur's Peep
Joined
·
189 Posts
If over-excitement is part of the equation, sometime when you get the chance, try a technique from Tellington Touch: making little circles over the pup's jaws (probably when he's got something in his mouth already. I have used it when dogs are fearful, also. Gentle little circles with two fingers on the jaw. Your dog will yawn and calm right down. I also learned from Rugass, On Talking Terms: Calming Signals, ways dogs use to calm themselves and other dogs, some of which we can use, like pretending to yawn. I suggest these things because I had most luck with little pup clothes pulling and biting when I treated it as over-excitement and either helped him get calm or took it as a signal that he needed a nap. Wishing you all the best!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,957 Posts
I met with someone today. She recommended the alpha roll and training him on a choke collar. She advertised herself as using a positive approach to training, and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m not going to alpha roll my dog.

She impressed upon me the fact that the problem is I’m just spoiling my puppy and he’s just trying to bully me – even though this problem had disappeared until last week! He is my first dog (although I always had dogs growing up), but I’m not sure that I spoil him. He’s not allowed on furniture (this week, he finally learned to get down on command) and he follows the “nothing in life is free” program. He has to sit for everything – food, toys, before his leash gets put on. I don’t give him attention when he’s biting and I wait until he is sitting quietly.

She emphasized that he’s getting bigger and I need to take care of this now, or he’ll give me a dangerous bite and I’ll want to get rid of him. Getting rid of him hadn’t even occurred to me. I definitely have to put more work into training him than any dog I ever had growing up, but he is pretty sweet, and he is learning and increasingly more well-behaved, and it’s not like I’m going to just cast him out on the streets.

So I left feeling a little hopeless. I don’t know, maybe she’s right and I’m not the right type of owner for my puppy, but I’m willing to try different things.

As a sidenote: this morning, I found two teeth in the kitchen, so I do know he’s teething. Would that cause harder biting? At any rate, I’m going to call the behaviorist I like and set up another appointment. I didn’t expect to leave the session feeling this bad about how things were going with my puppy, but maybe it is a lot worse than I thought.
Don't panic! That is a pretty sad excuse for a trainer, IMO, a trainer that implies 'dire consequenses' if you don't fix it 'right now', using their methods, is misleading to say the least. Good to hear you are not interested in following her 'example'. Firstly consider that when you put on long sleeves you look different to your pup, your shape has changed- so it is a whole new 'game' for him- your are a 'new toy'. Since he is teething it may make him a little more prone to being 'mouthy', make sure he has appropriate chew items and reward him for choosing them, with praise, maybe a little treat. Also keep in mind that as he is growing he may need a little more exercise/playtime to burn off that energy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Sadie was VERY mouthy until she was about five/six months old, and I had numerous little bite marks and cuts all over my hands. Thankfully, our dog trainer kept emphasizing patience, and she did grow out of it, but not a minute too soon. Our trainer also said that she would be worried if she just suddenly stopped (I, however, would have been thrilled!) but she did eventually start being able to control herself. I think the techniques you're doing are great - and all I can say is: hang in there! It will get better, honestly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,645 Posts
One thing that works with Ben is to hold the arm perfectly still. I don't pull away, I just go limp. All of a sudden, my arm is a lot less interesting as a toy. His mouth will ease its pressure and usually he'll end up licking me. He gets rewarded when he kisses. One advantage of not moving, is it's a lot less likely to result in torn skin or clothes.

One thing I've noticed is that if someone tries to pat the top of his head, he'll sometimes snap at the fingers. I think either he doesn't like the feeling of the hesitant touch or he things it's a game, especially when the hand moves away. He never does that with me, because when I touch him, i'm not tapping gingerly, or playing keep away with my fingers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
Charlie did the "biting" when he was excited and wanted to play with us. I told him "no biting" and tried to push him away and he thought I'm just playing with him and got more excited....
Then, when he was between 9 and 10 month old it stopped and he hasn't done it since. I don't know if it's because he's getting older or because we started sending him to doggie day care once or twice a week around that age. I have a feeling that, because at the daycare he was playing with all different kinds of dogs, puppies, mature dogs and seniors, they maybe corrected that behavior and he learned not to do it....don't know for sure but I'm glad he's done with the "biting" :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
417 Posts
We had huge problems with our Tucker's mouthiness between 8-13 months of age. He is now approaching 16 months, the weather has taken a cooler turn, and we are very happy to see that even with the cooler temps and extra energy he has in this nice weather, he has definitely learned to tone it down with his mouthiness. He still gets at us - especially when he's outside and over-excited, but we've learned over this past year how to take better control and re-direct him when this happens. He rarely nips at us hard enough to even cause any bruising, but on occasion, it'll still happen. We're just so relieved to see his behaviour improving in the past few months. Feel free to search my older posts - you'll see exactly what kind of struggles we had - it got pretty bad. But we kept at it (in-home trainers, training classes, working on our own with him every day, etc.) and over time he started to get the message.

We have three young children here at home and young kids living next door, so it was extremely important that he learn his boundaries. He's turning into a wonderful family pet - but boy did we hit a rough patch for awhile! Hang in there, and be consistent with your training. Your pup is still very very young - you may see it get worse before it gets better. That's what happened with us - and you'll see if you do some forum searching that many others have had similar issues. Just know that as long as you keep working at it with the training, and keep your patience about you, you'll see improvement with time. There's no doubt about it - some of these goldens are very mouthy little buggers! :wave:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Hi,
First of all, your puppy's behavior is very much like my Lacie's, which is normal, as you can tell from all of the previous posters in this thread. Lacie is 19 weeks old tomorrow and has given my wife and I bruises, cuts, and little bite marks with her sharp razor like teeth. I am currently working with a behaviorist/trainer. She is excellent. As others have said, "Leave it," and your walking away from your pup when the mouthing and biting occurs is your best defense and training tool. Say something like, "You blew it," or "Game over," every time you walk away. Then come back after your puppy settles down. Also, click and treat when your pup does settle down. When Lacie jumps up and bites, I make like a tree and then when she sits down, I immediately click and treat, saying "Good girl." Your puppy will out grow this phase.
Also, any trainer who says that he or she is a "positive trainer" or uses only "positive training methods" and then applies an alpha roll or suggests a choke collar, is not worth having around. A truly positive trainer would never do such a thing. I had a trainer who said that she was a positive trainer come to my home and, to get Lacie's attention, actually took her finger and hit Lacie off the top of her head. She said it doesn't hurt them. She also told me that when Lacie is in her crate and cries and barks, to take a pie plate or a metal pan and bang the top of the crate to startle and frighten her. She also applies an alpha roll to a 10 week old puppy. Yet, she calls herself a positive trainer. I told her goodbye after that one meeting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,401 Posts
I must admit that I didn't read every post on here but it sounds like your puppy never learned proper bite inhibition. How old was the puppy when removed from its littermates? Do you have another dog in the house that the puppy plays with? I think that everyone in the house must treat this with consistency so that your puppy learns his manners. If not, you are headed for big trouble.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,503 Posts
I must admit that I didn't read every post on here but it sounds like your puppy never learned proper bite inhibition. How old was the puppy when removed from its littermates? Do you have another dog in the house that the puppy plays with? I think that everyone in the house must treat this with consistency so that your puppy learns his manners. If not, you are headed for big trouble.
I know for a fact that Tayla, now 10 months old, didn't learn bite inhibition. She was removed from her litter at 5 weeks. We adopted her at 4 months and we've been paying the price ever since. She is a little better but it's been a long road and we have lots of road to go down yet. It's a difficult thing to teach well after the fact.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,401 Posts
Littermates teach bite inhibition. I don't remember where I read it but I think that there are exercises that can be done to teach it. Perhaps I read it in CULTURE CLASH.
 

·
Inactive
Joined
·
11,326 Posts
Here's one technique to teach a gentler mouth. It's not the whole solution to your problem, but it's an exercise you can add that helps a puppy learn that gentle mouth is a good thing:

Hold the food in a closed fist with a tiny bit of the treat showing between your thumb and where my your finger curls. If the dog uses teeth, pull my thumb up to hide the treat completely. If he's gentle, open your hand more and more until he can get the treat free. With a little practice, you can react very quickly and really show the dog that teeth means the treat goes further away while gentle mouth means the treat gets looser and looser until he gets it.

We got Jax at 16 weeks, and though his inhibition was good in general, he was a shark in taking treats. This exercise solved the problem over the course of a week or two.

This doesn't address the herding/prey drive jumping and grabbing, but it can help a dog learn gentler mouth skills.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
1. first of all she is probably excited, if she goes to nip, give a forceful "NO" that should distract her, then put her in a sit or down, that should stop the nipping. then lots of praise but dont re excite her.
2. carry a loud whistle if she goes to nip, blow whistle to startle her then get sit or down and calm praise.
3. This was recommended to me by a dog trainer. they used to sell mouthwash or breath freshner in a small spray bottle. If you can find it. carry it. If she goes to nip, spray her in the mouth, eventually the distaste will stop her, also is she is smart after a few times, just seeing the sprayer will probably stop her. be sure to get a sit or down and praise her. You always need the positive alternative behavior and praise. Hopefully she will start to do automatic sits and you can praise her for those.
 

·
Kate
Joined
·
22,661 Posts
1. first of all she is probably excited, if she goes to nip, give a forceful "NO" that should distract her, then put her in a sit or down, that should stop the nipping. then lots of praise but dont re excite her.
2. carry a loud whistle if she goes to nip, blow whistle to startle her then get sit or down and calm praise.
3. This was recommended to me by a dog trainer. they used to sell mouthwash or breath freshner in a small spray bottle. If you can find it. carry it. If she goes to nip, spray her in the mouth, eventually the distaste will stop her, also is she is smart after a few times, just seeing the sprayer will probably stop her. be sure to get a sit or down and praise her. You always need the positive alternative behavior and praise. Hopefully she will start to do automatic sits and you can praise her for those.
I'm going to be a brat this morning and point out that none of these things work with a sharky golden puppy. :)

1. Yelling at the dog does no good if you are yelling every 2 seconds. The dog learns to tune you out.

2. Putting the dog in a sit or down.... uhm. I remember our Sammy and Jacks, when they'd get into their "fits", you couldn't put a hand anywhere near them. They were little pyrannas. :D <- All sharp puppy teeth, like this.

3. Whistles are actually cooler than yelling but have the same effect after a while.

4. Spraying a golden retriever with any liquid is FUN. <- Jacks actually comes running when my mom has her spray bottle.

5. Spraying mouthwash into a golden retriever's mouth is actually dangerous since many of these mouthwashes are not supposed to be swallowed and can cause stomach upset and illness.

6. Spraying unpleasant things into dogs mouths can turn into "snap! catch me if you can" game, where you wind up punishing the dog not for what they did but for letting you catch them and grab them so you can spray them.


^ Had to be said.

I'm not a positive fluff only type of trainer, and there are definitely methods that I used with Jacks and with Sammy (our two shark puppies) that infinitely worked. But again, I would not just suggest online for anyone to do these methods. Because any method (positive or corrective) if done incorrectly will have no effect, or they may exasperate the situation, or they may be abusive and damage your relationship with your dog.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top