Severely Mouthy Puppy, Need Help

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Tazwell, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    I have this puppy that's coming into one of my training classes, and I had a chance to meet him beforehand.

    He's about 10 weeks old, and he is probably going to be medium-large sized. He was found behind a gas station alone when he was about 5 weeks old, or younger, so he no doubt missed quite a lot in his puppyhood. His owner has had him for about 3-4 weeks I think.

    Anyway, his problem was "Aggression," according to most people. Of course, I don't believe that any puppy is "Aggressive," and coming from his situation, I felt he probably needed regular puppy manners taught to him.

    After I met him, I kind of realized he was quite a bit different. He uses his mouth a bit differently, and he uses it hard. When you reach for him, he alligator snaps at you. You pick him up, he bites at you. You do anything at all, he bites you. In between bites, he shows his teeth, in a sort of grin. It seems that this is all play to him, I believe. But when he bites, he bites HARD. Almost aggressive-looking and feeling bites.

    I picked him up, and he was turning and trying to nip at me (Like normal puppies do,). He was feeling pretty confident, and showed no real adverse reactions. I put my hand in a spot he wasn't comfortable with (I believe it was on his shoulders, but I don't remember.) And he went berserk, trying to get me to let go, and attempting to bite me very, very hard. I see this sometimes with normal puppies that aren't very used to human contact, as well. Of course, I didn't let go of him until he settled down.

    I'm feeling that this puppy needs to learn serious bite inhibition before "No biting," but he bites so hard that it's simply unacceptable. His owner was tapping his nose as a repercussion for biting, and I obviously told her not do do that, and the simple "Squeak and ignore" technique for now.

    I expect and hope for the puppy to learn good manners, if his owner sticks to it-- I'm hoping that It doesn't continue to the point where I have to recommend a behaviorist. Since I didn't speak to her or see that much of his behavior, I don't know.

    Any good advice for this type of behavior, or anything I should watch out for or try with this little guy? I'm well used to normal bite inhibition and discouraging with puppies, and I wish I could better describe how his temperament is just different. But maybe someone's come across a situation like this before?
     
  2. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    If you think it is indeed play behavior then I would continue to do the ignore method along with redirecting to a toy after the ignore period. BUT if it is what it sounds like, him not wanting to be handled then the owner will need to work much harder. They will need to work hard on desensitizing to touch. Touch and treat, touch and treat over and over. Only touching for short periods so he learns how to tolerate it because it does not last long, but then slowly increase time of touch. Hopefully he'll learn to enjoy it. Have them start touching in places he is not sensitive about and reward him for being calm during these touch sessions. Once he is reliably not reacting when touched in comfortable places move on to less comfortable areas and work there, keeping sessions very short. Perhaps they even need to start with practicing reaching at him, reach but before they get close enough for him to react offer a reward (don't pull hand away before rewarding unless a clicker is used, you want the reward to be in conjunction with the reaching, not the pulling away).

    He sounds like he just needs socialization, he missed a critical period as you know but I believe he can be helped by the sound of it but they will need to work at it, I'm glad they are coming to training. Like with any puppy they should probably work on preventing resource guarding. Have them hand feed him for a while and then later do some additions to his food bowl, like the extra meat from dinner. Perhaps during the hand feeding touching can be added so food is the reward for touching. Keep us updated on this guy, I'd like to know how he turns out!
     
  3. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    Boy that's young to have that attitude . Poor guy didn't have a very good breeder !!! BTW , what is his breed ??
     
  4. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Breed, I don't know. He was supposedly a "Hound/Pit mix", but like I said, his background is not known. He is a complete heinz 57, I think.

    Actually, my rescue (very local) had a single puppy that looked EXACTLY the same, about the same time. I figure maybe they're littermates. This is him: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=11822233
     
  5. youbetcha1018

    youbetcha1018 New Member

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    What is the age/sex/breed of the puppy?

    Are you sure it isn't play behavior? Sometimes puppies seem antagonistic because they are trying to get another dog to play with them. For dogs, play mimics fighting.

    If the pups body is very stiff and she is staring - that could be aggressive. If she is loose and in a play bow (head down, butt in the air) that's play. She can even be play growling. You might want to get a trainer to come observe - or post a video if you can.

    If the pup is under 6 months and showing aggression, that would be rare and cause for concern.
     
  6. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    Probably a BYB pup ......never socialized .
     
  7. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Like I said before, I had a brief meeting with him. He was in a shopping cart, surrounded by his own toys.

    I think my plan of action with this pup is going to teach his owner the regular ways of anti-biting in puppies, and getting used to proper human contact. This is all something covered in the regular class curriculum.

    I see that this puppy's behavior goes above and beyond, but I still believe (from what I've seen) that it's all in the name of playing-- he simply does not know how to do it properly, and he hasn't had the chance to interact with other puppies.

    My worry with him is that he won't have any bite inhibition. He bites much harder than normal puppies, and it is constant. Biting is something that we cannot tolerate with him at all.

    I think that is more my question than anything-- As far as bite Inhibition and No-biting with this little guy goes, how would you handle that? It seems that if we teach him "No-biting," that might screw him up for when he feels the need to bite later in life-- he'll bite hard. What do you think? I just know this puppy is going to need a little extra attention from me, and I hope that his owner remains consistent and dedicated to make it work. If not, I have the name of a good behaviorist I can send her to.
     
  8. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    he was found really young...perhaps having no litter mates at that age is why the biting is so hard. They are first ones to teach inhibition. The pressure of biting they allow is much more than people do, as people have sensitive skin, but the dog is still learning HOW to control the jaws, how to "calibrate" his jaw strength. Maybe what he needs is lots of play dates with other pups, do you allow puppy socialization at the end of class?
     
  9. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Depending on the students in the class. In his class, I will not, because his classmate will be a chihuahua puppy. I would be afraid, even now, to let him play with a puppy remotely his size, because of the way he uses his mouth. I'm not sure, maybe playing with a large, tougher-to-hurt puppy might help him...

    How does bite inhibition usually work between older, unsocialized puppies, does anybody have experience with that? I definitely do not want to suggest to her anything that my harm somebody.
     
  10. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    First thing I would teach him is to lick using spread cheese or peanut butter (I would also use a clicker but thats me).
    Then I would get a plush toy that I could handle easily, have some rewards/treats in my pocket same side as my free hand. Then I would as he was holding the toy and pulling I would carefully slip my finger into his mouth.
    He should be surprised it is there and avoid the finger at first, the nano second he STARTS to avoid the finger, I click and reward from the other hand. The finger going into the mouth, should not push, pinch or hurt the pup. Just touch his tongue, tickle it lol. I have found as long as you keep the toy play quiet and soft with him pulling (you don't pull from him, the pup pulls) and not getting to excited that it only takes a few reps before they understand that the second they feel the finger/flesh that if they let go they get a reward. But keep in mind at this point the food reward has to more rewarding than the toy.

    I would also play the It's Your Choice game with this pup and teach him some self control, combined with the rest of the advice that you have already received.
    For this method to work, you HAVE to understand Operant conditioning training whether you use a clicker or not, doesn't matter.
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I had a puppy like this in one of my classes once. He was a small puppy, and he bit hard. It did look like play, but it was so much more intense than you usually see in pupppies (and yes, by that time I'd had hundreds of puppies), and I really did feel that as an adult, he'd probably bite some person at some point. In addition, of course, he had owners who weren't really committed to having a dog at all, and really didn't want to do any training with him. They ended up dropping the class, and I believe they rehomed the dog (it's possible, though I honestly don't remember specifically, that I suggested rehoming).

    All that said, I like adojrts' advice. Unfortunately I didn't know that game when I had this puppy in my class, but I really think he'd benefit from it (although honestly, his family would probably never practice it, or if they did they'd do it wrong).
     

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