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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

My wife and I recently (3 weeks ago) adopted an approximately 2 year old bully mix from a rescue organization based in Houston. For the most part, our experience has been wonderful and our dog, Porkchop, is well behaved and has a good training base upon which we can build. Before I go any further I should let you all know that he is deaf (completely). He knows sit, down, stay, go to your crate, and go potty all in signs. We have begun training with a vibration (only) collar to be able to get his attention quickly and he has taken to it quite fast.

The one aspect of his behavior that we are not satisfied with is his play style. I gather that the foster family engaged in rough house play with him and was not entirely successful in teaching him to have a soft mouth. In our house it manifests itself everytime he is excited and wants to play by him either 1. rolling on his back and nipping at your hands (important to note, we are NOT initiating the rolling, he does this on his own) or 2. wanting to chase and be chased while nipping at feet or hands. It is clear that he is not being aggressive or "biting" (in the sense of attempting to do harm), however I think its safe to assume he does not understand that human skin requires much more gentle play. In the interest of honesty, he has produced 2 small scrapes (think papercut level small) on my hands which did bleed but in both instances the scrape was because I pulled my hand out (If I go limp his bite pressure diminishes until its really just slobber). He seems to understand no and disengagement but I don't want to inadvertently train him to think that I mean no play. It is hard to get him to engage with toys, but we can satisfy his need to chew through bones. Because he is full grown (2 years and 45 pounds) and deaf, I gather that training bite inhibition is going to be more difficult than a younger hearing dog.

I want nothing more than for him to be successful in our home and so I was hoping to gather some tips for training bite inhibition. So far from reading old posts I have collected these tips,

1. substitute a chew toy immediately after initiation of mouthiness, and praise when he engages.
2. disengage completely when the mouthing becomes too rough and ignore.
3. gently close his mouth after nipping and sign no (this one I know will not work, he just thinks you want to wrestle more.)

Any other tips or experiences y'all could share? I would appreciate anything. He is not human aggressive or dog aggressive (although his vocalizations can be crazy sounding but he obviously doesn't know that, his body language is all puppy style play). He allows complete strangers to handle his paws, jowels, tail, and ears without any concern. He just does not know that his owners do not like how hard he chews while playing! As an aside, we walk him 2 times daily and he comes home exhausted, so lack of exercise is not a concern.

Thanks for your time!
 

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I personally use method number one and I think that one would be effective in your case since you can't employ the common method of yelping when he mouths. Try redirecting to a toy and immediately praising. Another thing you could try is redirecting immediately to a command. So as soon as he starts mouthing, give the sign for sit or down, then praise/treat immediately and resume play. This can teach him that he will get to play more if he is gentle and attentive.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response!

Good advice. Redirecting to commands with subsequent treats after obeying does work, however, my wife and I are at a loss on how to praise him without re-initiating contact with our hands. Does that makes sense? We have just started to give him the thumbs up sign prior to treating him to try and make a positive association. As it stands, if I redirect him successfully and then try to praise by petting or scratching it is interpreted as go time for wrestle fest again!
 

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It sounds to me that the dog is full of bundled up energy. Try exercising the hell out of the dog, long walks, flirt pole, treadmill etc. and then try your command training. These are extremely high energy dogs. Wear it down and then try training.

Joe
 

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Good advice from Joe! How about dropping a treat as a reward instead of a pat? Then there's no contact.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The foster family, and rescue organization, described him as a very low energy dog and our experience has matched this. We initially would take him on three long walks daily, however, the majority of these excursions were spent with him resting (literally flopping on the ground panting). Subsequently we cut three back to two which seems to be a nice compromise. After walks he is exhausted enough to sleep soundly for at least an hour.
The episodes of mouthy play that I am describing are not at all constant, at most they happen twice daily (usually mid morning, and right before feeding). And their duration are quite short, maybe 10 minutes. For the most part, he is a couch potato. So my dilemma is that when he is active, I want to provide a healthy outlet for play without encouraging nipping or rough play biting.
I have heard many differing opinions on the flirt pole. On the one hand, people seem to praise it as an effective outlet for bully energy that does not require a lot of outdoor space. On the other hand, I've read from people that this type of play really encourages the development and expression of their prey drive. What is your opinion on it?
 

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I personally love the flirt pole and think it's an amazing tool. I have no problem with harnessing my dogs' prey drives and they absolutely love it.
 

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My boy gets frisky when he needs to poop but would rather act like a little punk then go to the door to tell me he needs to poop. Maybe he is telling you he needs to go outside?

I am all for replacement, #1 in your list. Worked great for my boy.
 
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