Saying No with teeth

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Lisa Cali, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    Cooper is 28 weeks and still very mouthy.
    the one thing that does worry me is that if I need him to do something he doesn’t want to do - like move out of my way or get restrained for anything, he bites. Not hard enough to break skin or anything like that, but it still hurts. It’s like he’s having a temper tantrum - he kind of yells, twists around and grabs with his mouth. I’m not afraid of him - but it’s like he doesn’t know any way to communicate except with his teeth. These are getting less frequent but still happen
    When he gets tired, he still tries to use my hand or arm as a chew toy. He also takes my hand in his mouth if he wants to walk with me or he’ll bite me when he needs to go out. I was getting a bit worried about this still happening, but it seems from other posts that I’m not alone in that. And he is a lot better than he was a month or 2 ago. But that is usually done with a tail wagging or some type of excitement.
    Its hard to describe the difference, except in intent. In the normal day stuff - it’s like he’s asking me for something and in the “tantrum” - he’s telling me ” No, I’m not doing that”.
    We’ve done a bunch of training and Continue to do that as basic obedience never hurts.
    I’m hoping he’ll grow out of both? Should I be worried?
     
  2. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi Lisa and welcome to the forum. While biting is pretty normal in puppies, you are right to think you should be seeing the end of it by 28 weeks. On the bright side, it sounds as though your puppy has got really good mouth control, so although he is being inappropriate with your teeth, he isn’t harming you.

    The fact that this is still going on after six months suggests you are inadvertently triggering and reinforcing the behavior somehow. It may be that you need to change your training techniques, and/or provide more opportunities for mental stimulation for your puppy.

    It would be good to have some more information, so that we can make suggestions. For example, can you give an example of a situation in which your puppy might do this? Is it after physically taking hold of her collar? Or during training? Or after correcting her in some way? How do you cue your puppy to get out of your way? Do you reward him after restraining him (attaching a leash/collar) If you let us know the kind of games you play with your puppy at the moment we might be able to suggest some helpful alternatives.
     
  3. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    Thanks so much!
    so there’s 3 main variations. The first is when he’s sleepy and wants to snuggle and he starts chewing on my arm like i was a bone. I usually just redirect that to a real bone without any correction. I have to redirect him multiple times but he’ll usually give up.
    The 2nd is when he’s bored or over-tired, but can also mean he has to pee :). He’ll get really bouncy and do the whole growly, snarly, racing around the living room thing, jumping onto the couches and sometimes right on top of people. If he doesn’t respond to the Off command, I’ll go to get him off the couch and he will bite at my hands when I reach for his collar. I usually block him and tell him sternly NO Bite! If he continues, I put him in the kitchen by himself for a few minutes. I usually have to get a leash on him to get him into the kitchen without a battle. (I used to crate him then, but We were having issues getting him to go into the crate, so now I don’t use it for his time-outs. ) But separation is the only correction I’ve been using.
    If this is because he’s bored, after his time out, I’ll take him outside to play fetch or we’ll do some training and if It’s because he’s overtired - I’ll give him a rawhide to settle him for a few minutes or something.
    Lastly, if i try to move him somewhere or restrain him, he can have a tantrum. he follows me all over the house and usually manages to lay right in the doorway or to block the hallway I’m in - I ask him to move and shuffle my feet into him but he often ignores both so I have to physically push him out of the way if he’s not on a lead. If it’s a place he’s not otherwise allowed in, like the bathroom or the upstairs, he’ll “fight” me on it - like a 2 year old would. He becomes dead weight or he’ll twist and squirm all over and he’ll bite my hands or arms if I’m physically holding him. He’s been doing that since he was a baby and we’d pick him up to put him in his crate or when we’d practice restraining him. We tried to teach him that if he’s being held, calming down gets him free but we didn’t do a good enough job with that.
    I generally do training or play fetch with him or take him for walks. Sometimes tug of war but only as long as he stops when I say - if teeth hit my hand, games over.
    I don’t really play other than that. However - I have 3 kids and my youngest boy is a big anti-trainer. He’s 11 so should know better but he’ll get on the floor with the dog and lay with him - which of course gets the dog crazy - or he’ll let Cooper chew on his clothes - then when Cooper jumps on him - he (my son) squeals and jumps up onto the couch or something equally exciting to the dog. No matter how many times I tell him that he is instigating the dogs behavior, he still thinks the result will change and he’ll be able to lay on him like he did with our old dog. And I can’t give my son away for 6 months until Cooper is past this ;).
    He never bites at me during training, even if I physically put him in position or reach for his collar. I reward quiet behavior and reward intermittently when I touch his collar or put on a leash.
    So sorry this is a novel but there’s always so many details to share
     
  4. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    And I should add - he is 65 lbs and eats 3 3/4 c of food a day - Purina Pro Plan - I’m currently mixing puppy and adult formula - in 3 meals a day. Right now we have an Au Pair so even though my husband and I work and the kids are in school, he is not locked up all day. He gets out quite a bit each day to play in the yard, etc and he gets 1 or 2 walks per day.
     
  5. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    You sound as though you have really got your hands full. You've got a very lively boisterous young dog who has no idea at all what is expected of him, and has been reinforced (inadvertently rewarded) for some inappropriate behaviors. It also sounds as though you are giving your dog commands that he doesn't understand, and too much access to every part of your home.

    It's really important that you learn how to train your dog without physically grappling with him. And that you learn some management techniques to give you control over the dog while you train him. I think you need some hands on help from a good positive reinforcement trainer to get you started. Are you in the USA?
     
  6. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    I may not have been clear in my post and I apologize if that’s the case. Cooper knows quite a few commands - we’ve been training with him since we brought him home - both on our own and in puppy classes. I’ve been training my dogs using positive reinforcement for the last 20 years. Other than the mouthing/biting, he’s quite well behaved. I believe in most cases, he has a very good idea of what’s expected of him - He walks well on a leash, he doesn’t steal food, waits patiently for a release before eating, etc. He’s gated into the Living room most of the time - he only has access to the other areas of the house if he is with me.
    When I said that I put him in position, it might mean a slight pressure on his butt to get him to sit or something like that during training.
    The 2 issues i have are - He does occasionally go into a dead weight when he doesn’t want to move and if I push him or try to pull his collar a bit, he gets mouthy with me. Normally he has a leash on so I don’t have to have that problem but I’d like to get rid of that behavior.
    the other time I mentioned - when he gets the zoomies - he races around the room like a crazy dog for a few minutes and yes, he will ignore my commands then- again, if a leash is in, it’s not a problem. But if I try to physically move him to the floor - he mouths and bites my hands.
    I’m sure he has been inadvertently rewarded or encouraged to bite/mouth - I’m just looking for some idea of how to stop this behavior or if he’ll grow out of it. He’s noticeably better in the last 8 weeks - he’s just not there yet. None of my other dogs were this bitey and they all grew out of chewing on me by 6 months.
     
  7. TEE

    TEE Registered Users

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    Interesting to read, seems to me too that inadvertently some of his behavior has be reinforced. In situations where my young lady goes crazy I immediately use food treats to break the behavior and do a few simple obedience exercise to refocus the energy. As Perci is always game for food it takes seconds to redirect her. I also make it.a habit to make her move out of my way when she is lying down in my path. I would not be ginger about it either. Imagine the alpha dog going around another dog in his pack. Would not happen. Good luck
     
  8. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    thanks! I haven’t found many situations where food won’t work with Cooper! :). I didn’t want to reward that behavior so I normally wait for the calm before I bring that out. I also find that if he’s on a leash, where i can physically halt his progress, then redirecting him to basic sit, down, go to mat type commands will get his brain back in gear.
    When he doesn’t move out of my way, I shuffle my feet Into him, but I have to be more forceful with that. I never walk around him, but Now, I wind up pushing him out of the way and he probably loves that. I try not to let him get away with anything I consider rude :).
     
  9. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    Hi guys, just a reminder that dominance theory has been thoroughly debunked now, and nothing our dogs do is motivated by trying to be the alpha, or by trying to appease us as their alpha. You can read more about that here.
     
  10. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    Hi! Not thinking any of this is dominance. In my mind - as the “parent” and chief controller of the food, I expect a little respect - move out of my way so I don’t trip over you, don’t steal food off my plate and don’t steal my seat on the couch. But I’m happy to share my couch, My space and possibly my food if you ask nicely - Sort of the way I deal with my kids :).
     
  11. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    That doesn't sound like a problem and will probably decrease as he matures if you keep doing this.

    Like @pippa@labforumHQ said, you need to be able to control your dog without physically reaching for him. If you have a wound-up hyper and manically excited dog and you reach to touch him, he is only going to mouth you. Have treats in your pocket and if he is unable to respond, use a treat to lure him where you want him to be. If he is crazy over-excited, crate him 30mins till he has calmed down - but you will ask him to get in his crate with a trained cue, which you will reinforce with a treat.

    This doesn't mean anything to him. He's not a child, learning English. This is just you, trying to be intimidating. Some dogs would actually be intimidated (sadly) and would stop whatever they were doing. Other, more confident and less fearful dogs, will just see your assertive behaviour and want to meet you there for a game - the game they wanted to have before. Either way, it achieves nothing.

    Again, you are physically controlling him using pushing, pulling, cornering him and human forceful behaviour - rather than teaching him to respond to cues, and reinforcing those responses. Why should he let you put a leash on? Have you repeatedly associated it with something positive, like food? Why should he want to be crated? Do you provide a reinforcer every time he is crated? And so on...

    No surprises there. Of course, if you don't train a dog to WANT to do what you are asking them to do, the dog is pretty soon going to stop wanting to do it. There is nothing inherently reinforcing about going in a crate. It's down to you to train the dog to WANT to go in - and to provide a reinforcer when the dog does.

    Because you are physically moving the dog.

    No you don't, you say 'This way' and produce a treat and throw it where you want the dog to move to. It's pretty simple really.

    My 12 week old Lab pup goes in her crate on cue from the other side of the kitchen. No need to pick a dog up and put him anywhere at all.

    Then you need to make the whole of life be 'training' - not just times when you decide it is 'training time'. The dog is learning always, not just during designated 'training' periods.

    Again, this is using pushing, pulling and physically touching the dog. If you don't want the dog to mouth and touch YOU, then don't do the equivalent to the dog. It might seem like it is just 'slight pressure', but if it is sufficient to achieve the goal of getting him to sit, then the pressure (science tells us) must be sufficient that the dog wants to sit instead of stand - which is not really 'slight' - because it is unpleasant enough to be effecting behavioural change.
     
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  12. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    Hi. Thanks for the feedback. Not sure how to add the quotes here, so I’ll do my best to summarize.
    I can try treats to redirect him when he gets crazy. I didn’t want to reward the behavior but I can see how that works
    I’m not sure what the objection is to a “stern No”? I’m not screaming at him or anything - to me it’s just training a “stop”. He gets praise and treats when he does something I like and either ignored or a “no **” when he does something I don’t like. Then gets redirected to something I do want.
    I will definitely try to get his movements directed by something other than my hands - ie pushing him out of my way.
    its why we stopped physically putting him in his crate - I don’t want him to feel like my touch is ever aggressive.
    I know that every interaction is training - but the zoomies come out with no warning sometimes. It’s why I came here looking for an alternative to what I’ve been doing.
    Cooper is definitely the most challenging puppy I’ve had.
     
  13. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi Lisa, don't be disheartened. There's a lot going on with your pup at the moment and you clearly have his best interests at heart. Cooper would benefit hugely if you learn how to change his behavior, move him out of the way, attach a leash etc, without actually touching the dog at all. That's what true positive reinforcement training can do. It can help you train your dog without any physical contact at all. But these are skills that you need to learn and practice in order to see some positive changes.

    Force free training is great for dogs like Cooper who react strongly to being pushed and pulled. I think you'd find it really helpful to seek out some force free training classes and learn how to do this.
     
  14. Lisa Cali

    Lisa Cali Registered Users

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    I have to say that my trainer would agree with you. :). Our goal is always to have our dog be our partner and to get the dog to want to do whatever you’re asking. So, I get what you’re saying. And I actually do a lot of that. I truly don’t think pushing the dog out of the way is training him for example :) - it’s just the behavior I’ve resorted to so he’s not underfoot when he doesn’t respond to the move command for example. But - I guess I’ve been rushing a bit and we need to go back to shaping that behavior before I use the command.
    I’ve just never had a dog respond to me with mouthing back, so I was giving the extreme examples here to see if I should be worried about it.
    it sounds like this behavior should diminish as we progress through more training as the situation will just naturally arise less
     
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  15. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    Here's an article by Pippa on why not to say 'no': https://dogsnet.com/dog-training-using-the-word-no/

    And another article: https://barksfromtheguild.com/2017/10/10/just-say-no-to-saying-no-2/
     

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