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Old 12-26-2012, 02:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Puppy play or actual aggressiveness?

My sweet little Zoe is no longer... well sweet.

As some may know, she was separated from her mom at 4 weeks and I took her in after the person who initially got her could not keep her anymore.

When Zoe came home, she was so quiet and docile. Rarely ever barked and just wanted to cuddle in my lap and lick me until the cows came home.

Lately she's been far more vocal: lots of growling and barking. I know puppies growl when they're playing (and bite...and boy does she bite!), but her growls seem a bit aggressive sometimes, even my friends have commented that sometimes she seems more attack dog than lapdog.

Also, certain things just make her go berserk: for example, if I'm sitting on the couch and I have my feet up, she will go crazy with growling, barking and jumping just to bite me.

Also, her biting: I expect it, but when she plays with me, she bites me much more harder than she bites my friends, to the point where she has broken skin. I do yelp when she does it, but she doesn't let go until I pull away. I'm not sure if it's because she knows she'll get away with biting mommy harder than my friends, or if she has it out for me lol.

I'm just wondering if this is normal or if I should be worried and if so, is there anything I can do. I know since she hasn't really learned dog etiquette, there are certain things she may not be aware of (like me yelping = let go).
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Others will be able to answer better. Dogs learn bite inhibition from other dogs early in life. If she is not with her mom and siblings she did not learn this. Biting to the point of breaking the skin is not good and could lead to problems in the future. She is young and can easily learn, but I would work with a gentle trainer to teach her how to interact - and I would do it fairly soon, while the learning window is so wide-open.

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Old 12-26-2012, 03:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I know everyone allows different level of growling and mouthing so this might be just me, but we don't allow any play mouthing in this house. All play stops as soon as he tries to use his teeth on our skin. That being said, if she's breaking skin, I am sure that is a big no no no matter what your tolerance levels are about this stuff.

Considering she was only a baby when she was taken away from her mom, you're right, she probably doesn't have any bite inhibition yet. Even then, I am concerned because she should intuitively know yelp = pain. Which means if she doesn't know biting = pain, she should atleast get it from when you yelp and let go. I would make sure the yelp sounds like you're in a lot of pain. At the least, the yelp should surprise her and she should let go.

Sounds like she needs some obedience training. You could just do it at home or join a GOOD puppy class. Teach her a few commands. Show her she has to work for what she wants (food, toys, playtime etc.) You could look up the NILF program. We follow something similar with Gustave and it works really well for us.

When is she growling? She shouldn't be just growling at you for no reason. Gustave does growl while we are playing, but only when we're playing. Also, I give him breaks him by asking him for a behavior (usually 'sit' or 'down') so he calms down. Maybe try and distract her if her growling gets intense.
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Old 12-26-2012, 04:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eiksaa View Post
I know everyone allows different level of growling and mouthing so this might be just me, but we don't allow any play mouthing in this house. All play stops as soon as he tries to use his teeth on our skin. That being said, if she's breaking skin, I am sure that is a big no no no matter what your tolerance levels are about this stuff.

Considering she was only a baby when she was taken away from her mom, you're right, she probably doesn't have any bite inhibition yet. Even then, I am concerned because she should intuitively know yelp = pain. Which means if she doesn't know biting = pain, she should atleast get it from when you yelp and let go. I would make sure the yelp sounds like you're in a lot of pain. At the least, the yelp should surprise her and she should let go.

Sounds like she needs some obedience training. You could just do it at home or join a GOOD puppy class. Teach her a few commands. Show her she has to work for what she wants (food, toys, playtime etc.) You could look up the NILF program. We follow something similar with Gustave and it works really well for us.

When is she growling? She shouldn't be just growling at you for no reason. Gustave does growl while we are playing, but only when we're playing. Also, I give him breaks him by asking him for a behavior (usually 'sit' or 'down') so he calms down. Maybe try and distract her if her growling gets intense.
Good post! I can't recall how old your puppy is now but you really need to change the behavior now and teach her the bite inhibition that she missed out on. It CAN be done- you have to yelp loudly and show her that it hurts and stop everything you are doing and turn or walk away from her. That way she learns that biting hurts and that she needs to stop.

You can also say a firm No when she is starting to bite or chew on you and always give her a different chew toy as a replacement. This way she will learn what is okay to chew on. Puppies naturally like to mouth and chew so you have to give them an appropriate outlet to do so.

Even if Obi accidently gets my finger instead of the toy when playing, I will say OUCH and do a fake whimper and roll up and ignore him. Then, he runs over to lick my face to say sorry. You can definitely teach them that biting hurts and prevents you from playing with them!
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As the saying goes...you hurt the ones you love the most.

Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that.

You did get a lot of good advise above. She sounds normal for all that's happened with her, but you need to stay consistent in not letting you bite her. You're doing the right thing with yelping. In addition to doing that, you might want to substitute your body part for a toy or something she is allowed to chew. Pull away whatever she's biting and hand her the chew object that she can have. OR, our trainer suggested when Leila was doing this to pull away while letting out an "Ow!", then cross your arms and turn your head away, ignoring her. He said that's how puppies teach each other they've bitten too hard...yelp, pull away, ignore biter & not play with them for a little while.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'd also like to add, a trainer told us we could do two different yelps. One more high pitched like a puppy when pup bites by mistake, and stop playing (like Marisa stated above) and another more authoritatively reserved only for when your pup is being a pain for no reason. I find it very easy to tell the difference.

Sometimes puppies just think it's fun to play the biting game. And especially if the pup is as feisty as our Gustave, we need to step up a little bit and show him we're in control. I want to clarify this ONLY entails an 'ouch' but more in the tone of "ouch puppy what the heck! do this again and you're grounded" as opposed to "ouch I'm so hurt I'm gonna die".


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Old 12-27-2012, 12:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi,
We got Mia when she was 6 weeks old but she was kept separate from even her mother at 4 weeks. I totally understand what you are dealing with. It was very hard and yes her nick name was the Tazmanian devil. But we kept giving her a toy instead of our hand and we tried the yelping and making a booh or boy sound that her mother would make if she bit to hard and it did not work for her. But she did respong to me saying AT AT followed by no bite Mia. I don't know how old your puppy is now but it does get better. Also provide some really good teething treats. Lots of great advice on this forum from everyone! Thats how we made it thru the bitting and growling with Mia. Good luck yall will make it.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You already have a lot of great responses, but I just wanted to add that the high pitched puppy yelp didn't work for Cici so it might not work for all puppies as her trainer had mentioned. Our trainer taught us the mommy "BOH" (in a deep loud voice, not sure how to spell the sound), instead of the yelp as a second alternative. That really got her attention to stop biting, and it was much easier for my BF to do it also since he wasn't able to do the yelp very well.


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Old 12-27-2012, 11:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice! I've never heard about the sound that the mom makes, I'll have to try that.

She usually growls when we're playing, but then again, she'll growl at the most random things, like the couch. And her growls usually sound different.

I think the hardest thing is consistency. Since she only bites me really hard, my roommates and friends don't really yelp. Or they'll say "ow" in a normal voice and start laughing.
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had to talk to my husband about that just yesterday. Gustave only bit me the first 2-3 days and then never again but my husband complains that he bites him. Well, the genius does the same happy 'ow' and then starts laughing. What else do you expect from the pup!

Put your foot down on this. Bite inhibition is a very important life skill for dogs. This one is nonnegotiable.
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