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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning to all,
I am a brand new member and I am thrilled to have found this wonderful and informative site!
I currently have a male 11 week old Pitbull puppy named "Nico" whom I love dearly but am about to lose my mind over! Nico has severe puppy biting issues, so bad that we cannot pet, love on, hold or work with him without getting mauled. I have scoured the internet and read everything I can find regarding this problem, I have tried several techniques and spend at least 2 hours a day working with him, but NOTHING is helping.
When I purchased Nico I was told he was 8 weeks old, but upon taking him to the vet 2 days later I was told he was just under 6 weeks! I know that is problem #1 because pups learn biting inhibition from their mothers and littermates.
I honestly do not know what to do anymore, I just cannot imagine that this is "normal puppy mouthing"... Nico starts a training class on June 9th and I am praying that this is going to help. In the interim I have been bringing him to the dog park almost daily to socialize him. (I am a wedding planner so I work mostly from home) I am continuing to put all of my efforts into training him to stop his biting, but sadly it is just continuing to get worse.
I use positive reinforcement and am completely consistent regarding his schedule. What else can I do, am what am I doing wrong?
I never believed the "stigma" regarding Pitbulls, but I have NEVER had a pup like this, and I have had dogs my entire life!
I don't want to give up on Nico, so any advice would be MUCH appreciated!
Thank you,
Amy :confused:
 

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Well, if he were my pup, I wouldn't be taking him to a dog park; too many idiots and too much of a chance of picking up bacteria from other dogs. Is there a puppy class you can take him to for socialization? It would be a more controlled environment than the chaos of a dog park and he'd be with other puppies. Do you have any friends with older dogs he could spend one on one time with (carefully supervised)? If you're lucky, you will find a dog teacher who will teach him manners without going too far. My old terrier mix was such a teacher, she knew how to put obnoxious pups in their place without hurting them.
What, exactly, are you doing as far as 'techniques' to teach him bite inhibition? Have you tried time-outs, where you say ouch, quietly get up and leave the room for a minute when he bites too hard? Have you tried substituting a plush toy for him to mouth instead of a piece of you? Puppies have the attention span of a gnat, so it will take many repetitions for him to get the message that humans are fragile. Do many short training sessions throughout the day, rather than long ones.
 

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^^ Basically that. What are you trying? I'd also avoid dog parks for sure.


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In my experience, I'd say pitbulls are not bitey, but they DO love to chew on stuff. I've never had one chew on me or anything that belonged to me, but they destroy toys often when young-probably going through them fast till they were 4 plus years old.

If you haven't already, get lots of toys. Tennis balls, tough squeaky toys, kongs (though mine would destroy those once they get bigger). Be firm about not tolerating biting on you. Give a good loud Ouch! When he stops biting give a treat. If that doesn't work, as Dogma said, leave the room for a minute. (remember they have a very short attention span don't leave for long)

On the good side, it seems some of the experienced folks say dogs who are more mouthy get a chance to learn to be very soft mouthed compared to dogs who rarely are as puppies, so therefore don't realize how tender humans are. Most of my dogs have not been from pups, but of those I was around the worse was my ex husbands Pomeranian of all things. That little bugger was super bitey as a pup. It was bad enough that a behaviorist advised us to no longer feed her from a bowl. We were told to only feed her by hand for a month or so and only when she was not biting. It did work btw. It was a little time consuming, but worked like a charm.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all so much! I had NO idea about the dog parks! He goes to puppy play at Petco twice a week. I am using the "ouch" and walk away technique. He starts his puppy classes on June 9th, which I am praying will help! Your responses are so much appreciated, thank you again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am going to try that! Thank you. He has a huge toy box FULL of every chew and soft, squeaky toy you can imagine! He has ropes which I wet and freeze for his teething as well. I also don't play "tug of war" with him because I was told it can cause aggression and dominance. I believe I am doing everything I possibly can, maybe it is "normal" but I can't imagine normal puppy biting could be this bad. My other 2 Pitbulls were rescues, one at 5 years and the other at 3 years. I lost my female at age 10 2 years ago, and my male last year at age 11. I am STILL mourning them... So, maybe I don't have enough "puppy experience",, but I am trying my very best.
Thank you again,
Amy
 

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Gentle, calm, and consistent

What, exactly, are you doing as far as 'techniques' to teach him bite inhibition? Have you tried time-outs, where you say ouch, quietly get up and leave the room for a minute when he bites too hard? Have you tried substituting a plush toy for him to mouth instead of a piece of you? Puppies have the attention span of a gnat, so it will take many repetitions for him to get the message that humans are fragile. Do many short training sessions throughout the day, rather than long ones.
:goodpost:

This is GREAT advice. My tactic is similar but slightly different:
1. Gently remove from you and replace you with a chew toy calmly. If he takes it, awesome. Try again and if she still doesn't take it, step 2.
2. Calmly pick him up and put him in timeout (somewhere boring). You only need to put him there for a minute or two and then let him back out. A crate is handy, but the laundry room or a bathroom also work well.

If you are struggling to get him off, you can gently push his lips onto his teeth. No need to be real forceful about it, but the feel of his own teeth will get him to back off. Good luck!

Also, it sounds like he has a strong personality and you got to skip the "joys" of puppyhood before, so be ready for adolescence! In my opinion it is the hardest time to like a dog - doesn't matter what kind. I think I only had one that had an easy adolescence. Don't get discouraged. If you survive that age, everything will be great!
 

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If the OUCH and ignore isn't working, I would move on to swapping, get a little chuck it ball and shove it in his mouth when he starts nipping you. Or a toy basically show him that instead of teething on your hand he needs to bite the toys.

GREAT job on trying to socialize him, especially since he was removed from his litter early. It would be best to have meetups with other owners and dogs you know and trust. For health reasons as well as behavior. My dog was removed at 4 weeks and was fine with every dog he met. Until he wasn't. Around 10 months any dog he had NOT met as a pup was bad. Any dog can have dog aggression happen, at any age really. It's can be shocking to see your dog, who has "always been fine", show his true feelings so it is best not to find this out for the first time in a dog park with tons of other dogs around who may decide to join in the drama.
 

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How is the Biting going??

Hello!
I have an 11 week puppy and I am having the SAME problems. I have watched every video about stopping the biting but nothing seems to work. I am so scared that he is not going to knock it off and really hurt me. I have used no, replacing my hand with toys, treats, distractions you name it. I got him as a 7 week old. Just wondering if you have had any success yet.
Thanks in advance
Kim
 

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Hi Kim, seems to be an epidemic! :)
Have you looked at any articles on bite inhibition? There are some good ones out there. This is one I liked, it was on a now defunct dog forum so I don't know what the original link was, or who the original author was - it's rather long but maybe it will help.

Another point of view
First take into account the breed-derived behaviors and the human recipients. A naturally hard biting dog such as a terrier or protection breed will use his mouth to test and explore the environment and tends to grab, shake or pull at clothes, arms, hair etc. with excited enthusiasm. This exploratory mouth use quickly leads to a harder mouth use which, even though it is not intended as aggression, may be interpreted as such by the recipient. I include this explanation because I feel it is important for the owner to understand that their puppy is not a savage beast, but simply learning how to use one of his most important sensory tools.
First tool would be chew toys that can be held in the hand with some distance between hand and mouth. Rope toys (several of them with different sizes of rope and types of knots) that are 16-24 inches long give the person something to hold that the pup can bite and interact with but not be able to get close to the hand that holds it (not used as a tug toy!)
If pup tries tug play, I just release the rope and turn away and pick up something else. Pup can't play tug alone and comes quickly to the other object. Long chew bones that can be held or even knotted strings of old socks with objects inside (tennis balls etc.) can serve the same purpose.
The pup is interacting with the human in a highly satisfying way, but learning what appropriate chew objects taste and feel like, and should he get to a body part, a quick "ouch" and a substitution of a rope or other object should get him back on the track. In addition, if at all possible, it is important that they have real puppies to use their teeth on and real adult dogs to tell them where they can and cannot put their teeth. No one can teach a dog manners like another dog! A huge abundance of chew play things like plastic bottles, kongs with stuff in them, raw knuckle bones and lots of patience and a place for a time out when you can't stand the little monster another minute will help cover the rest. Sorry this got so long, but it is so hard to deal, with even when you know what to do!
No one should tolerate or ignore nipping and clothes grabbing. It hurts, it's dangerous, it damages our clothing and most of all it damages our relationship with the little barracuda a.k.a. one's new puppy.

I consider my pantleg a part of my body...as far as "yipping" goes, well, I've never considered it effective. This whole "when a pup yips the other one let's go" is rather mythical too...I have seen plenty of puppies in a litter continue to hang on when a littermate yips. Watch puppies and let me know IF everytime a pup yips, it's littermates let go. It's not something I've seen watching lots of puppies...some do, some don't.
I teach pups not to bite hands, legs etc. by immediately removing all attention for the behavior. This is easy if you are bending over to pet pup for example: you bend and here come teeth, stand up. You bend...teeth...you stand up. You bend... teeth... you stand up. You bend... no teeth... you pet.

Simple. The use of teeth = (negative punishment) I go away.


Now some pups or dogs when you "go away" attach to your legs...ouch! Now I don't squeal ouch but this does hurt... it, at least, hurts your pants. If you 501's could shout they'd be screaming "hey this hurts"!!

Now you can try "stop and ignore", but with a dog like my JRT she didn't mind if the pants were moving or perfectly still...grab, growl, shake, twist fun, fun, fun! The behavior of grabbing/shaking is self reinforcing. if I ignore a self reinforcing behavior it will NOT go away. It's like telling an owner with a dog digging holes in the backyard..."ignore it and it goes away". Nope, not so. Besides, it does really hurt, especially if they catch some flesh in the process. It trips humans, it annoys house guests...there are so many other ways a dog can interact with a human that are much more pleasant than playing tug with our bodies or our clothing.

So, there I was in the yard and Barracuda was attached to my leg?! Hmmm....I simply bend over, grasping the top of her muzzle and rolling her gums to remove her mouth from my leg. This should NOT be confused with any sort of "pinch the puppies' gums and hurt them business". It should be painless for them, and removing a puppy mouth this way keeps your hands safe. So, simply remove puppy mouth. You now also have a hold of puppy or dog's collar. You grasp in such a way that they cannot twist and mouth...hold them at arms length away from you. Then you simply wait...no need to shake vigorously (I mean you shake them) just wait. Don't look at them, don't say anything to them.
Hold and wait. This pup is so obnoxious and you are so completely bored and totally unimpressed with their skills of grabbing your body with their sharp little puppy teeth.

The dog/pup is flopping around perhaps like a fish out of water...annoyed, irritated. Wait. At some point they will relax, IMMEDIATELY RELEASE THE PUP.

*If you want to Click/Treat now, go ahead. They go right back and grab your pants again. Here we go again, repeat the above.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Lucy and I had a very long initial session in the yard. I'm sure I removed and held the JRT by the collar at least 30 times in a simple walk across my back yard (maybe more, frankly). I don't care, I am a very patient person...biting doesn't work, don't attach yourself to me or anything connected to me. Next day it was 25, next interaction 20 times etc.

At the end of two weeks I sent home a JRT that you could pick up and set down, no biting. Hold in your lap, no biting. Walk across the room, no biting. Flip on her back and clip all of her toenails, no biting. Restrain in any position, no biting. No biting...'cept for her toys.
 
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