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Old February 5th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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crazyforcats crazyforcats is offline
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Nipping and biting 3-month old pup

We have been trying to break Roxy (shih tzu cross) of this nipping and biting habit. Every time she'd nip or bite we would yell "ouch" and ignore her for a minute. We did that for 3 weeks, but it didn't seem to do a thing - it almost seemed to get worse. Over the last few days whenever she nipped at or bit me I would grab her muzzle, hold it shut, look her straight in the eye and say firmly "no bite". I'd hold her for a few seconds until she stops fidgeting, but as soon as I let go she starts snapping at me - purposely trying to bite me - I'm not sure if she thinks it's a game or if I've ticked her off and she's being aggresive.

So what do I do? What method should I be using? This biting behavior will not be tolerated. We have two children, a 1-yr old and 5-yr old. When she jumps up on my 1-yr old (we're also trying to teach her "off") she's too close for comfort to my daughter's face. Do we just need to keep being consistant - how long should this take? I mean, it only took an afternoon for her to learn "down".
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Old February 6th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Have you tried yelping? When puppies play too rough, you'll often hear one yelp, then turn their backs and sometimes whine softly for a few seconds. If you observe this behavior, the "biter" will often back up and wait until the "bitee" is ready to play again (or will sometimes wander off and do something on it's own, then come back to resume play later). Yelling "ouch" is a good command word, but it will do no good if the dog doesn't understand it's meaning.

There are several different techniques you can use, but I find this one to be the most effective, as it triggers something natural (instinct). Holding the muzzle shut and saying "no bite" will work for some dogs, but it's a somewhat aggressive way to train, and if the dog is displaying an aggressive or dominant personality, it could make things worse as the dog doesn't fully understand your actions.

Think cause and effect. Another way to help end this is by treat training. Hold a treat in your hand (closed) and the puppy will nip and bite to get at the treat. If she doesn't bite too hard, hold your hand closed and wait until she stops nipping. As soon as she becomes confused, she will sit back and think about why her technique isn't working. It's then when you would open your hand and give her the treat. And if she bites too hard, you "yip" again, and turn your back, then 30 seconds later, turn back and offer the treat again in a closed hand.

These are two seperate training techniques (one is for leave it or gentle, and the other is for play nicely), but they both trigger the same instinct. Biting makes the good thing (food or playtime) go away.

I like the word "gentle" or "easy", instead of "no bite", as "gentle" can be used in conjuction with other training problems (and it will be easier for the dog to understand because it's already been taught that roughness does not get rewarded).
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Old February 6th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by crazyforcats View Post
Do we just need to keep being consistant - how long should this take? I mean, it only took an afternoon for her to learn "down".

Sorry, I forgot to reply to this.

While timing and consistancy are key, if what your doing isn't showing any results, it's time to change your technique. Instead of pushing the dog off your children and commanding with "off", try using the "gentle" command (see above) and show your dog that you want it to be submissive to your children by playing in a different state (ie. on it's back, or with four paws on the floor). Shoving your dog off will only heighten her state of mind, as she will more than likely immediately jump right back up.

Don't force your dog into position of course, but reward her when she DOES play gentle. Standing up and ignoring the behavior when she jumps up, is a "negative reinforcer"... which basically means that, without punishment, her play tactic (jumping) will not work. It's not punishment, but the dog will quickly get the message.

And again, be consistant.
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Old February 6th, 2007, 04:23 PM
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crazyforcats crazyforcats is offline
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Originally Posted by Spirit View Post
Have you tried yelping?
I haven't done this yet, but maybe I'll start to. The reason we haven't tried it is because most of the training we do is when the children are sleeping (napping during the day or after bedtime), so we've tried to keep to quieter methods. Still, there have beens times that my "ouch" has been a little loud and my husband has hushed me.

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Originally Posted by Spirit View Post
Holding the muzzle shut and saying "no bite" will work for some dogs, but it's a somewhat aggressive way to train, and if the dog is displaying an aggressive or dominant personality, it could make things worse as the dog doesn't fully understand your actions.
I wouldn't call her an aggressive dog - I'd definately call her hyper!

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Another way to help end this is by treat training.
Roxy seems to respond quite well to treat training. We've been doing "drop it" for the last couple days and she's doing well. I don't know if it's the proper way to train, but we train commands in the order of necessity - "drop it" because she keeps taking the girls' toys and running off with them... She's mastered "down" (laying on the ground) - could this be used instead of "off" for when she's jumping on people?
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Old February 7th, 2007, 12:26 AM
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She's mastered "down" (laying on the ground) - could this be used instead of "off" for when she's jumping on people?
Not unless you want to put her into a down position everytime she greets someone.

I use off when my dog jumps up on anyone, but I also teach him that greeting without jumping (he doesn't have to sit) gets rewarded. So what works for me, is when he jumps, the person ignores him. And if I'm quick enough, I'll stop him in mid jump (by using a "ah-ah!" sound), and follow through with the attention (by the person he jumped on). If I'm too slow, I'll command him "off", then tell him to come and sit by me (away from the person) for a few seconds. When he sits nicely and gives me his attention (by looking at me, waiting for his next command), I'll then release his sit with an "okay", and send him off to greet nicely. He never jumps that second time, but there's always a pause between the off and the greet, as if to say "let's try that again".

Remember that you want her to not jump at all though, so picture this scenario. She jumps, you tell her to sit, and she gets praise. This could go one of two ways in her mind. She'll either learn to automatically sit when greeting people (I find this kind of a pain, as my dog would rather stand and be pet, and sort of lean against the person "cat style"), or she'll learn that a jump equals sitting, equals praise, when all you want is for her to greet nicely... if that makes sense.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 10:29 AM
Odieandmaggiesd Odieandmaggiesd is offline
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When I got Odie I had the same problem, I started flipping him up on his back and holding him down till he stoped wiggling...at first it took over an hour...after a while it was less and less time...now he's no longer a litle pihrana :P
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Old February 12th, 2007, 02:10 PM
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OntarioGreys OntarioGreys is offline
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A stern sounding "Eh-Eh" with direct eye contact( the eye to ey stare) and no toucing the dog till she/he settles down can often be more effective then yelping with some pups yelping will just wind them up more, especially true with those that love chomping on noisy squeaky toys.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by OntarioGreys View Post
with some pups yelping will just wind them up more, especially true with those that love chomping on noisy squeaky toys.
She loves her squeaky toys! Thank you for your response.
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