Puppy is aggressive biting

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Schnauzer Sam
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Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 14 Aug 2018, 09:54

Edie is the most determined puppy I know. If she's doing something undesirable she will sometimes ignore our attempts to distract her. The next step is that we lift her and she will snap to express her displeasure. She's managed to connect with my wife and eldest stepdaughter (16yo) to date. I've been growled at but have missed the teeth to date. I've never experienced this before in a puppy. I train using rewards for positive behaviour and don't punish.

Any ideas on how to deal with this? I see it as two problems. One is ignoring the recall and the other is the aggressive reaction. I think she needs some 1-1 training where I interrupt her play by calling her over and reward the recall - if this doesn't work I'll use a long training lead to enforce the recall. How to deal with the snapping though? Do we simply restrain her head when lifting her and reward her if she's calm?
Country Girl at Heart (Molly) 8 April 2003 - 22 December 2018

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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Oscar 12345 » 14 Aug 2018, 11:41

Hi Sam, one step forward a couple steps backward is the way isn't it.... With the distraction I would attempt to make something very very attractive and exciting that she can only have every now and again when you want her to and then it is put away, a toy that she has never seen before that you don't let go of like something on the end of a old lead like one of your old slippers/shoes that appears and drives her mad with excitement, give it a name. Otto had a teddy that even by name will make him stop what he is doing. That's your weapon when you really want to distract. If it doesn't work you haven't made it sufficiently exciting. I wonder whether Edie really understands the degree of unacceptability with biting. I imagine she has had lots of NO's and distraction attempts since you have had her. I would want to scare her the next time she attempts to do it with something you haven't done before, whether that is a very loud NOOO in the face whilst holding the nose, a tap on the nose, a loud shake of a tin with stones in it, something that will shock and make her take notice and then repeat each and every time. So do you think you have made her realise that it is unacceptable or is it just another telling off with the many others? If she looks shocked job done, if not I would quickly follow it up with a naughty step type of punishment, either put her in a room to calm down for a minute or put her in a crate if you have one. Just cooling down time and time to reflect and then out again with lots of praise. That is what I would try maybe others have better ideas.
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Schnauzer Sam
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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 14 Aug 2018, 14:14

Thanks Julie,

I wondered about putting her in the isolation unit. I don't want to use her crate as that's her place but I did wonder about getting a small playpen that's her area to go to for calming down.

I think it might be a carry over from her relationship with her litter where she was competing with the other 6 but I need her to learn that she can chill out a bit :)

I like the idea of a noisy can to get her attention. I haven't tried that before - never had any need to.
Country Girl at Heart (Molly) 8 April 2003 - 22 December 2018

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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Robin black mini » 14 Aug 2018, 17:11

Hi Sam..you've only had the pup for such a short time I think you need to get to know each other and understand why she's growling / biting..
From what you've said she's a typical feisty little pup,very different to your gentler character,Rosie..
I would never tap her face or use a stone filled jar to distract her to stop the biting...both could well make her fearful of you ,even head shy,and she could use biting more and more as avoidance tactic..
I would use a distraction ( eg rope toy) or squeaker toy if you want to get her away from an object,and use the " come" directive when she's running to the toy (and to you) and praise her positive reaction..call her to come for her food..for a game etc..
If you do have to pick her up ,and she should be handled to get her used to the very act( to put in car,on the table,etc) I would pick her up in a firm but calm way,and if she growls tell her enough of that,in an equally calm way.
SOmetimes pups haven't been handled enough at the breeders and are startled by unexpected lifts..tell her well done when she goes down and throw her toy for her..I would really try to get her to come away from the object rather than picking her up each time ,or she won't learn..
Bite inhibition is important to learn..pups learn from fierce play that if they go too far with biting,another pup ,or their mom with correct them..we can say ow,or ackkk to mimic that puppy brother ,and tell the pup he's biting too hard..but tapping the face etc will only make the pup afraid of your hands and maybe you..it's a step too far.
I would not give pup a time out ,per se ,for rough play,but if she's overtired,then the using playpen-you have is a good idea.
With a pup like this you should also pop her collar on with a trailing lead in the house and garden,now and then,this way she will get used to walking on lead plus you can gently lead her to where you want instead of picking her up each time..
I would use my voice to correct and as she gets to know you all ,this should extinguish ,once she learns your expectations and her limits..

Have a read of this article !it gives some good tips about growling and biting pups and positive ways to deal with this..

https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Why-is-My-D ... ick-Him-Up

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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by zeta1454 » 14 Aug 2018, 17:59

I agree with Julie that you need very attractive distraction objects for times when Edie is very intent on not coming away from whatever she is doing and you do need to train this with many regular, repeated situations throughout the day. It is effectively a "resource guarding" behaviour on her part in that she has / is doing something you want to take away from her or take her away from it. Resource guarding is a very strong hard wired behaviour in many dogs and, if you have one where this is the case, you need to work on your reward based training concentrating on teaching Edie that she will be rewarded for giving up an object / food or coming away from something until she is responding to this without snarling / biting etc. It is not going to be an overnight change but it will be the most effective way of modifying this behaviour. You want Edie to want to leave / give up something and that she makes the choice to relinquish / come away because it is more rewarding to do so than otherwise.

Any form of confrontation / aversion / punishment is more limiting IMO because, whether or not it seems to work at the moment, it does not encourage a good relationship between you and the puppy being based on frightening them which with some pups could lead to anxiety and with others an atmosphere of confrontation in all sorts of encounters where you are forever looking for new ways to teach them who's boss. Edie is very young and just as you would not try to frighten a baby into stopping crying, you need to find a means to get her to respond to you without confrontation.

Many times, a young puppy becomes "bitey" because they are over excited and tired. Sometimes it is harder when there are other dog/s in the household (or children) initially as there maybe more likelihood of a puppy becoming over stimulated when they really need to rest. A playpen is a must really in our experience for a puppy since it provides a safe but limited environment where they can rest or sleep without being as confined as in a crate. Puppies need approximately two hours rest to one hour activity when they are very young although the occasional longer activity period e.g, when socialising outside is OK. If you have not already established a routine of activity and rest periods, I would try to start that as it provides a structure that will help Edie settle in and will help to avoid her becoming overtired and grouchy.

Specifically looking at the biting, all young puppies when they are teething are inclined to nip and bite regardless of whether this is linked with "annoyance" at being taken away from something. They may be in pain a lot of the time and this can contribute to their reaction especially as puppies have a very limited means of communicating how they are feeling or what they want or don't want other than by crying or biting. General nipping and biting will almost always pass even if you do nothing at all as it is a phase young pups go through, however, in the circumstances where a puppy seems to be using their teeth to communicate you do need to discourage this ASAP

Some exercises you should do every day, very short sessions of less than a minute but often, are handling exercises and resource guarding exercises. The first is to accustom Edie to being handled, gently, all over her body and head while being rewarded with treats. As she accepts this, move on to handling all over and treat at the end of the session. She needs to be able to accept her mouth being looked at, her paws lifted, everything that would be involved in a veterinary examination for example, without reacting. This is vital for vet visits and grooming. Is Edie normally OK about being picked up or does she resist regardless of whether you are taking away from something? Some dogs do not like being picked up but, without overstressing them, it is important to try and get a reluctant dog to accept careful gentle lifting without reaction. Being patted, examined, lifted etc. are things a puppy needs to learn to accept and in some cases enjoy but they are not hard wired to find these activities fun or even in some cases acceptable so you do need to work on getting Edie to feel comfortable and not threatened by this happening. If she is going to be regularly lifted, she nust not learn to associate it with being taken from something she wants or to somewhere she does not want to go so you must ensure that picking her up is almost always associated with love, fun or treats - positive experiences rather than "punishment". Also, while she is inclined to bite or snap, try to lift her gently with her facing away from you rather than face to face.

Training games you can play with Edie to address the resource guarding are chew toy / bone exchanges where you offer her a more delicious alternative in order to take away a toy or chew object she is engaged in play / chewing. Once she has surrendered the object to you, give her the treat and then return the object. This is to encourage her to believe that this is not just a trade off but she is going to get the treat and her favoured object - repeated enough times, this should result in a dog that will willingly surrender something you actually do need to take away at some point without getting into a battle! You can also do this with the food bowl, going up and offering a tastier food as you take away the food bowl but return the bowl afterwards as well. Sit on the floor with her and hold a chew toy or bone while she chews at it - you can combine this with gentle handling as well. All these activities need to be repeated not just by one member of the family but by all of them on a regular basis. Do also try to make sure that there are as few opportunities as possible for Edie to get into a situation where you need to take her or an object away - when you are not actively engaged with her, at this age, she really should be in a playpen or crate for her own safety as much as anything. It won't mean that there will not be times when you need to recall / lift her / remove something from her but it is best to reduce these instances to a minimum :-)

The more fun activities you engage in with Edie as you get to know her and understand her personality (which will be unique to her and not like other dogs - even siblings can be quite different personalities and temperament), the more you will develop a communication between you that is based on understanding and not confrontation. It can be frustrating, puppies can provoke and annoy but always remember they are very young and vulnerable actually and working on building trust between you with training exercises and constant love and care is the best way towards overcoming the issues that may seem worrying but will in all likelihood just be part of growing up :-)

(P.S Good link from Jo - great advice)
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Schnauzer Sam
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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 14 Aug 2018, 22:11

Thanks for the helpful advice and the link - it's really appreciated.

I took a full week off work and spent ten days at home with Edie. Taking her out with me when I was walking Rosie and doing some basic obedience training and all has been going well but I think the problem has stemmed from concentrating too much on getting Rosie and Edie to get along and not enough time has been spent with Edie on her own, setting her boundaries. While their play has been fully supervised, I think that we have allowed them to set the limits and have allowed Edie to become overtired instead of us leading the play.

Regarding toys, there's no doubt that she resource guards them from Rosie but there's no signs of aggression at all. She shows no signs whatsoever of resource guarding her food. I've spent time with both dogs together hand-feeding them bits of kibble whilst getting them to sit or lie down just to ensure that they could sit together and wait.

Throughout, I have been handling Edie and being groomed has now been accepted (the first time was a different story) and she is happy to let any of us handle her paws, look in her ears and mouth. She's an adorable little girl and I love her confidence and attitude and I'm thrilled to have her join my family.

I got home from work today to discover that Edie had bitten my wife and both step daughters. I think Leigh and Jo you've hit the nail on the head - she was lifted to stop her from doing something or to take her out of somewhere so I popped her collar and lead on and played with her using the lead to encourage her to return when I call her rather than having to lift her. Rosie was then introduced to the play and I kept the play much more low key and we've had a great evening together with no signs at all of biting. She's been really chilled out.

I have another couple of days at work then I have another 10 days off at home with the dogs while my wife is at work and will work with your suggestions with my stepdaughters too.
Country Girl at Heart (Molly) 8 April 2003 - 22 December 2018

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Schnauzer Sam
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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 15 Aug 2018, 20:13

Edie was much better today with my wife and stepchildren which is great. They were more vigilant round the play between Edie and Rosie and ensured that they each took time to allow the other to play alone too. I got a playpen sorted out for her and with a soft cushion and a few toys in it she's happy enough to chill out and snooze in it.
Country Girl at Heart (Molly) 8 April 2003 - 22 December 2018

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Re: Puppy is aggressive biting

Post by zeta1454 » 15 Aug 2018, 21:41

That sounds great and I am sure it will all work out just fine. I think most of us start off with each new puppy with high expectations and put such pressure on ourselves to try and do everything right that any setback or things not being quite what we expected can seem worse than they really are. Believe me, even after fifteen dogs, we are still learning and facing challenges - every dog has their own little quirks of personality and can confound your previous approaches to training!

Edie sounds a strong character and I am sure you will have lots of fun times and some challenging ones ahead but that is all part of the joy of getting to know a new member of the family. Look forward to hearing and seeing more of Edie (and Rosie) on the Forum over the coming months and years :-)
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Magic - Silversocks Sharade at Darksprite
Trilby - Darksprite Rosa Bud

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