Biting Puppies: Help For New Puppy Parents

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by pippa@labforumHQ, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    There are lots of people on the forum at the moment with little crocopups!

    Biting, growling, zoomies, and puppies that are generally hyper can test your patience to the limits.

    Some of the people that come here with 12-14 week old puppies are at their wit’s end. Short of sleep, emotional, and even questioning whether or not they want to keep their pup.

    Some have tried saying NO BITE, pinning puppies down, crating, holding puppies muzzle shut, biting back, smacking and so on. They didn’t want this to happen, and they want to be kind to their puppy.

    If you recognize some of yourself in the above don’t panic. You are not a bad person, we can help and you are not alone.

    The first step is to stop with all the force and shouting

    Puppies don’t understand the word NO, squealing doesn’t stop all puppies from biting and encourages some to bite harder.

    The problem with using force whether it's pushing or pulling the puppy around, is that this is how puppies play. So it encourages the puppy to continue with rough play and become even rougher.

    Worse still, if you are successful in frightening the puppy sufficiently to stop it from play biting altogether you risk triggering a much worse type of biting - one based on fear aggression. So that is definitely a route you should avoid at all costs.

    The second step is to recognize that your puppy is completely normal

    Rough, hard biting is part of normal puppy play. Loud aggressive sounding growling is also part of normal puppy play.

    We’re talking snarling and snapping here. Not cute little puppy sounds.

    This is how puppies play

    The third step is to recognize that you are having a tough time

    This is a tough time, for any new puppy parent. Even experienced ones.

    Sleep deprivation and having your life turned completely upside down is extremely hard for anyone to deal with.

    For new puppy parents there is often a complete mismatch between what is happening to you and what you expected. You may even feel quite tricked!

    If you have other problems in your life, as most of us do, then the problems will seem magnified.

    The fourth step is to recognize that you will get through this

    The vast majority of puppy parents get through these early weeks a little wiser and relatively unscathed.

    Not only that but they have no regrets and would do it all again.

    They might change a few things, but they love their dog to bits and thoroughly enjoy him or her being a part of their lives.

    We can help you get through this, but there are a few things you may need to change.

    Let’s look at the things people do that make puppies even more bitey so that you can avoid them!

    The fifth step is to change the way you handle your puppy

    You can’t avoid the bitey stage altogether.

    But you can reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of biting and hyper episodes that are so wearing to deal with.

    Biting and growling are worse when a puppy is excited, or when humans engage the puppy in physical play

    Many new puppy parents expect to by able to play with a puppy with their hands.

    Many people roll a small puppy on it’s back and rub its cute squidgy tummy with their fingers.

    If your puppy is biting a lot, you’ll need to stop these kinds of games.

    Here are some things that people do that can increase biting in many puppies

    • Ruffling fur, ear etc with hands
    • Rubbing tummies with hands
    • Pushing
    • Pulling
    • Growling back at a puppy
    • Squealing when a puppy bites

    These and other similar behaviours all encourage puppies to bite and growl

    The best way to survive this stage is to reinforce calm behaviour, and to avoid over-exciting the puppy.

    Reinforcing calm:
    Place a treat between your puppy's paws when he is lying quietly. Teach your puppy how to behave around treats so that you can spend time together training. Teach your puppy to look at your face. Teach your puppy to touch your hand. Spend your time together reinforcing other calm behaviours such as lying in a bed or on a mat.

    When a puppy bites at your skin or clothing offer an alternative item to chew, separate your puppy for a few minutes if they start biting hard or get excited.

    Separating your puppy:
    If your puppy is getting over excited step over a baby gate or put your puppy on the other side of a baby gate. Or leave the room for a few moments, or crate the puppy for a few minutes.

    Avoiding over-exciting your puppy:
    Don't allow people to tease and wind up your puppy.

    Stop any games where the puppy seems to be losing control of himself or becoming a bit hysterical. :)

    Give a puppy chance to calm down in a quiet room or crate for a few minutes.

    More tips:
    Don't wear clothing that flaps and trails when you have a small puppy. Don't wear fluffy slippers or walk around barefoot with a ten week old puppy in the house. These encourage biting.

    Don't wear precious or valuable clothes with a very young puppy in the house because there will be chewing and damage.

    Put the puppy out in the garden or an outdoor puppy playpen with no attention if he gets the zoomies.

    The zoomies are normal, in fact some dogs have them all their lives, but there is no point trying to calm or pet a puppy mid zoom. Nor any reason why your furniture should suffer!

    The final step is to share and support one another

    Tell us how you are getting on, share your worries and concerns with other puppy parents

    Come back and help others when you are through the worst.

    That’s what the forum is for and it is you, and others like you that make the forum such a great resource.
     
    ScoobySnacks, Daewn, Ian73 and 10 others like this.
  2. Jade

    Jade Registered Users

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    So what are the positive ways to effectively manage the biting?
     
  3. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    I'll go over that again Jade and see what I have missed out
     
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  4. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hopefully that is clearer now :)
     
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  5. Jade

    Jade Registered Users

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    @pippa@labforumHQ
    Thank you so much. Such helpful information. I will definitely save this to refer to when we bring Remy home.
     
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  6. lucy@labforumHQ

    lucy@labforumHQ Administrator Forum Supporter

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    There is a great video here that helps to illustrate this:
     
  7. Diane Davies

    Diane Davies Registered Users

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    I have had my 9 week old pup for exactly 1 week and I am at my wits end, I feel I have made the biggest mistake ever. My previous lab died aged 14 last year, I cannot remember ever feeling like this with her. I thought I had prepared well, I have read so much on puppy training but in reality I am not getting anywhere with her. She howls if she is left alone for more than a minute so I now sleep in the same room as her. I have training pads in the kitchen for her to use, which she will use if we are sat in the room. If we are in the lounge she will just wee an poo wherever she wants to. As for biting and nipping it is just constant, when I say no she just flies at me and comes back for more. I was so looking forward to bringing this beautiful pup home, but now I almost resent her. Then I feel incredibly guilty because she is just a baby and I hate feeling this way. I am in tears as I write this, please help I am desperate.
     
  8. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi Diana, these early days are really hard and it's common to feel overwhelmed. The biting will subside but you need to be consistent and calm - even when you don't feel it :) Here's a more detailed guide to dealing with the biting

    The howling when left alone is because she is scared. If you put a crate next to your bed until she is happy and settled in your new home, you'll find it easier to sleep and she'll settle in quicker. You can move the crate later if you want to. Here is some information on teaching your puppy to be alone without howling

    Pooping in the lounge is also normal at nine weeks she has very little control over where and when she goes. If possible use baby gates to keep your puppy on washable floors and take her outside or to her puppy pads very frequently indeed so that she starts to learn that is the right place to go. You can find more toilet training info on the main site using that link

    Let us know how you get on!
     
  9. Debbie

    Debbie Registered Users

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    Hi Diane, boy do I know how you feel! My puppy is now 17 weeks old and I feel like I aged 10 years already. My puppy is a terrible biter too. It started almost as soon as we got him and is unfortunately still going strong. He was really really difficult from 11-14 weeks, then we saw some improvement with biting. But his 17th week is as bad as ever. His adult teeth are coming in now, looks like about 8 so far. Hopefully this is why the increase again. Potty training was super easy for us, was going to the door to go out in his 9th week. Since then only about 5 accidents due to us not seeing him in front of door. This took total vigilance and I don’t have any children at home that I have tend to. This forum is wonderful, lots of very helpful people with good advice or just kind words to put everything in perspective. Just about everything that you need help with is in here. BTW I seriously considered giving the puppy back to the breeder as others on here have too. I’m hopeful the good times are just around the corner. I also shed a lot of tears thru serious cuts, bruises and lots of torn clothes.
     
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  10. Diane Davies

    Diane Davies Registered Users

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    Thank you for responding Debbie I know I am not alone in feeling this way. I feel that things are going from bad to worse no matter how much I try. If I could get one thing right I would feel a bit more hopeful. I have now contacted a puppy trainer to see if they can teach us both.
     
  11. Diane Davies

    Diane Davies Registered Users

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    Thank you Pippa, I am trying to be calmer with her when she bites because if I shout at her she lunges at me and tries to bite more aggressively. So I am making her behaviour worse. I understand that she is scared at night and doesn't like to be alone, so one of us has slept downstairs with her since the first night and in fairness to her she will then sleep in her bed most of the night without any problems. I just can't see how I am ever going to get her to sleep in her bed in the kitchen because the minute I close the baby gate day or night she starts to howl. This also contributes to the toilet training because the puppy pads are in the kitchen leading to the back door. If I sit in the kitchen with her she will always use the pads and I always reward her for doing so. Being behind the baby gate stresses her out immensely. I've never used a crate before but would happily buy one if it would help. I feel so sad and desperate.
     
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  12. Jade

    Jade Registered Users

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    as for the biting i don't have the answer but I would highly recommend the crate.Get one that is just high enough for her to stand on all fours. Put the crate next to your bed every night.
    I do this for our 10 week old and he sleeps all through the night. Not a peep from him.
     
  13. Amy

    Amy Registered Users

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    That’s really useful information thanks for that. We have a 15 week old puppy who is a massive biter. I have started noticing a pattern that he is worse when tired, when my 2 year old is hyper or too noisy or the pup is too excited so we crate him for a few minutes until he is calm or if tired we allow him to sleep. Luckily the biting is less now but hurts a lot more than when he was smaller!! He now likes to cuddle up which is better than he used to be!

    It is so reassuring to know it is normal as I am getting fed up of people telling me how I should respond to him. How he is an aggressive dog and how we aren’t training him properly and how he should be trained. I was starting to think that they were right.
     
  14. Harley Sue

    Harley Sue Registered Users

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  15. Harley Sue

    Harley Sue Registered Users

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    Hi! Just read your post from August, and want to know how the biting is now that's it's 2 months later. My 13 week old has been biting very hard for the 6 weeks I've had her. Drawing blood, ripping skin and clothing. Nothing makes it any better. I spent the better paet of the morning crying. Lack of sleep, and the chaos, and pain has finally gotten the better of me. Do you have any suggestions or good news to share? Thank you!
     
  16. Mango

    Mango Registered Users

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    I remember those days. Mango was awfull. Every time I came close to him, I was bleeding from a different spot. Even putting on a harness was dangerous for me.
    He is now 7 months and I can't say he has completely stopped.
    It did get A LOT better at around 15 weeks. Since then, he hasn't bit me hard enough to penetrate the skin.
    So, I guess you just have to wait for the pup to grow out of it. And I know how hard it is, it takes 24/7, but try to keep the pup occupied. Anything....snuffle mats are great, I did't have one, so I just hid kibble in my old flis hoodie. Also snack balls distract them, Kongs, ropes, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles....anything that comes to mind and will keep him away from your hands
     
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  17. Harley Sue

    Harley Sue Registered Users

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  18. Harley Sue

    Harley Sue Registered Users

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    Thank you so much! I'll add your kibble hiding idea to my skin saving techniques! anything to get thru this phase, safely!
     
  19. Adamf

    Adamf Registered Users

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    Thanks to everyone who posted in this forum. It is very informative and it is certainly a relief to know that my puppy (Romeo) isn't uniquely aggressive and bitey.

    I've read everything here and there is lots of good advice. I'm hesitant to ask a question because it seems the answers are already here, but honesty, I still feel I need something more. My puppy is going after my wife and daughter more than he goes after me. He's a lab mix, but we aren't exactly sure what the mix part is. Some have suggested he's part, Pointer, Blue-heeler, Great Dane or crocodile. Here are my questions?

    1. There seems to be an order to his biting. My daughter (18 years old) seems to get it the worst. My wife gets it the "second worst." I seem to have the least problems with the biting, but I still contend with it like everyone else. Does the fact that the puppy seems to play more roughly with younger people indicate anything? Could this provide some clue to ease the biting period?

    2. The puppy nips at ankles and feet frequently, particularly with my daughter. Some have suggested that this indicates he is part Blue-heeler, because Blue-heelers are herding dogs. Is this true?

    3. I'm finding this difficult to deal with, particularly because the primary targets of his biting are my wife and daughter. It is easy for me to say, "it is just a phase," but they are the ones dealing with the actual biting. I feel I need to do something more immediate, and I'd like to ask for opinions. I've been given two suggestions, but I'm skeptical about both of them.

    3a. This suggestion comes from someone who has won awards for training dogs. He suggests that when the puppy bites, hold him by the muzzle and push his lip into his teeth until he experiences some pain and then release. This trainer claims that it makes the dog aware that his teeth can hurt. If this advice didn't come from someone who has success with training dogs, I would dismiss it entirely because it sounds brutal. But I know this trainer. In all respects, he is a decent and responsible person with a good reputation for handling dogs. I can't help but consider his suggestion. What do you think?

    3b. My wife and daughter have suggested a spray bottle with water. Squirting the dog with water seems harmless enough, but I get the sense that if this was actually a good idea, more people would be using it. I'm not a fan of negative reinforcement if positive reinforcement can be more effective, but the biting is intolerable, so I have to consider everything. What are the draw-backs of occasionally skirting a dog with water as a form of negative reinforcement?

    Thanks so much for any advice.
     
  20. Jade

    Jade Registered Users

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    If it were me I wouldn't do either of things. They are a bit cruel. The puppy is not biting to be aggressive or vicious. He's just a baby and this a stage they go through. Our pup is 19 weeks and he still is a bit bitey but 90% better. We just keep directing him to a toy every time. Eventually he gets it.
    Maybe start your own thread in the Puppy section which seems to get the most attention. I'm one of the trainers here can help.
     
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