Not so playful play-biting

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Dwilly's picture
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Joined: 2020-07-12

Hi everyone! My husband and I brought our Doberman puppy (now 10 weeks and 3 days old) home last week. This is both of our first Doberman, but we tirelessly researched and prepared for her arrival. I knew to expect her to be mouthy and we have been consistent from the start with correcting her biting with a firm “NO!” Followed by immediately presenting her with a toy, usually her favorite “ducky” toy then lavishly praising her if/when she accepts it. The problem is nothing I have tried works and she absolutely cannot be redirected at all. Usually she will either ignore the toy or grab and immediately drop it to come back to me. My legs, feet, arms and hands are covered with bloody scratches, punctures, and bruises from her, she bites extremely hard, literally always breaks the skin, and continues to bite in this way without tiring. I have contacted 2 trainers but haven’t heard back, I’m assuming due to Covid-19 related social distancing type reasons.  I know she’s too young still to bring to organized on-site puppy training (she’s up to date on age appropriate vaccines but series is not yet complete). We are pretty desperate to get this under control, as she is getting worse not better as time goes on. I know she’s only  10 weeks old and she’s teething so I’m not expecting her to not play-bite and chew everything she can find, but the relentless extremely hard biting without being able to stop her is a major issue. I take her out to the yard almost every hour and throw her  ball around or let her free play, as well as playing with her stuffed toys in the house. She has a puppy Kong, nylabones, and several rubber chew toys but doesn’t seem particularly interested. She usually starts out playing with these things before deciding I look like way more fun to chew and then she’s unstoppable.. I know these issues are usually the fault of the owner and  I have to be doing something wrong, so please if anyone has any helpful training tips I would be so incredibly grateful. She already knows sit, stay, come, and I’m currently working with her on learning “wait” and “paw” so she is definitely trainable (more proof I think that it’s my fault! I taught her to sit within 15 minutes. She’s SO smart.) It’s just  like she goes into these insane frenzies and she is blinded by her need to bite. Please help! 

 

DobermanGuy's picture
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Joined: 2017-12-11

The problem is nothing I have tried works and she absolutely cannot be redirected at all. Usually she will either ignore the toy or grab and immediately drop it to come back to me. My legs, feet, arms and hands are covered with bloody scratches, punctures, and bruises from her, she bites extremely hard, literally always breaks the skin, and continues to bite in this way without tiring.

 

If she tried that stuff on an adult dog she would most likely get a harsh correction from them in short order (instantly). It might be a 'gentle' correction the first time or two that she got out of line but there would definitely come a point where if she continued to squeeze too hard on the adult dog (not heeding the warnings she had already been given from them) - They would use enough pressure biting her back to put her in her place. You would still see her use her mouth when she 'plays' with those adults even after they gave her the harsh correction (or two) but rest assured she will be squeezing with much less force due to her having learned that if she goes too far - She WILL get an immidiate and harsh correction in return from them.

 

 

If she was doing it to other puppies her age they would yelp and either chomp her back (perhaps harder than what she did to them) or yelp and not want to play with her any more until she calmed down.

Sometimes a good idea to let puppies stay with their parents / siblings for as long as you can vs bringing them home as soon as they are weaned. They tend to learn bite inhibition quickly from their parents / siblings if given just a little extra time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

I know it can be very frustrating when a puppy is that mouthy.  I'd talk to your breeder and see what they suggest also - they should know their lines and what they are like. 

It sounds like you are doing the right thing and she will get it - you have only had her for a week so keep being consistent.  I'd also suggest putting her away in her crate when she gets super mouthy and the toy/treat is not working. 

I also found that giving the "cold shoulder" treatment can help. You literally turn your head and twist your body away from them and not give them any attention when they get really obnoxious.  I was really skeptical about it, but have found that it does work. Once they settle down, then you give them attention again and praise them.  They learn that being calm gets them attention and being an asshole gets no attention. So it is a positive reinforcement method - definity worth a try. 

DobermanGuy's picture
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I also found that giving the "cold shoulder" treatment can help. You literally turn your head and twist your body away from them and not give them any attention when they get really obnoxious.  I was really skeptical about it, but have found that it does work.

 

Very similar to how other puppies sometimes respond. 

They do not want to 'play' any more with an overly aggressive littermate so they walk away...

 

Or they bite the offender really good one time to get their message across. LOL! :)

 

Dwilly's picture
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Joined: 2020-07-12

Thank you so much for your reply! We didn't pick her up until the last of her siblings was being picked up also (just over 9 weeks old), so she was given the maximum amount of sibling interaction time she could have. We also have an adult dog who is currently about her size- 20ish pounds- and so tired of her shit haha. He bites her back in response to her even slightly annoying him at this point, sometimes hard enough where she yelps but she still comes back! He usually ends up retreating to the couch because ignoring or biting her back doesn't cut it. You and Fitzmar both suggested ignoring her when she does this, so this is something we have been trying. Since she continues to bite me hard as I ignore her I have taken a modified approach and have been placing her in the crate for her to calm down while I quietly ignore her from a few feet away. I might just be so desperate for something to work that I am imagining it but I think it might be starting to sink in. Thank you again, I really do appreciate the input :) 

Dwilly's picture
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Joined: 2020-07-12

Thank you so much for your reply, and for the encouraging words. This has definitely been frustrating, and honestly wouldn't be so concerning if not for how incredibly hard and relentlessly she bites. Since she continues biting me super hard, without releasing (I have to literally pry her mouth open because she won't let go once she bites down on me) simply ignoring her doesn't work so my modified approach has been a combination of what you suggested: I calmly say "no" once, either lead or carry her to her crate, and sit a few feet away without looking at or talking to her. About 5 minutes later I let her out and just stay calm and quiet and don't go back to engaging in play. I've been repeating this since yesterday and it might be wishful thinking, but it seems to somewhat be helping. She settles down quickly in the crate and comes out much calmer. I will stay the course with this method and really hope she stops trying to skin me alive haha. We have reached out to 2 additional trainers but still not having any luck with that unfortunately. Thank you again so much for your input, I really appreciate it :) !

DobermanGuy's picture
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We also have an adult dog who is currently about her size- 20ish pounds- and so tired of her shit haha. He bites her back in response to her even slightly annoying him at this point, sometimes hard enough where she yelps but she still comes back!

It is going to really suck for that adult dog when she becomes a LOT bigger and stronger than him if you do not get her trained up. Will not take her long to pass 20lbs... 

You will have to teach her that little guy is not her personal chew toy or it is going to really suck for him. Will suck for everyone involved.

 

 

You and Fitzmar both suggested ignoring her when she does this, so this is something we have been trying.

I suggested negative reinforcement as well. There comes a time when ignoring does not work so well but ringing their bell when they use to much mouth pressure on you does...  Any Doberman puppy of mine that draws blood on me is getting an instant smack upside the head.

Pretty much same thing that would happen if they got out of line with their mom. That puppy will feel a bit of pain as a response to her behavior. Nothing wrong with that method of training and it does work. 

 

Kim
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One more small suggestion - but it only works if she's biting your hands or arms. Harder to do with legs and feet.

When my pups would bite my hands, I would push towards them, instead of pulling away. (The pulling away increases their likelihood to "tug.")  I would literally push them backwards with my hand or arm in their mouth to the point of my hand being at the back of their tongue. At the same time, I would say, "NO BITE!", and keep pushing them backwards for a couple of feet. At that point, they have lost control, want to let go of my hand, and I'M the one in charge. It wasn't fun anymore.

Same way with treats. If they didn't take them nicely, they ended up with my fingers at the back of their mouth, kicking in a gag reflex a bit.

It didn't take them too long to realize it wasn't so much fun, and they didn't want to do it anymore. Furthermore, once they get what "No Bite" means, you can translate it to other times (and places) they are biting.

All that said, Libby (my last Dobe cross) was a wild child and very nippy, and she didn't really start to settle down until she was about 9 months old. They do take a LOT of patience, and it helps to remember they won't always be like this.

Good luck!

 

The time-outs in the crate are a good way to "ignore" a puppy as well. Sometimes they just get overstimultaed and out of control, and a "timeout" is the best thing. 

Like DobermanGuy, I'm not a positive reinforcement only trainer either (pretty amazing that we agree on anything haha).  Sometimes there needs to be negative reinforcement - which is basically what Kim is suggesting.... I have done the same thing at times with a mouthy puppy.... I just have not had huge issues with it.  It is something that I work on when I have a litter. I will sit in the pen with puppies as soon as they start to play - they learn not to bite on me with a combination of positive and negative reinforcement .... basically whatever works - haha.  It has been a lot of years since I've had a litter - but I've had very few issues with mouthy puppies after they leave my house.  

DobermanGuy's picture
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The time-outs in the crate are a good way to "ignore" a puppy as well. Sometimes they just get overstimultaed and out of control, and a "timeout" is the best thing. 

Like DobermanGuy, I'm not a positive reinforcement only trainer either (pretty amazing that we agree on anything haha).  Sometimes there needs to be negative reinforcement -

 

I went to sit down at the table one time with two squares on my plate of some really good and really, really hot, leftover home made enchiladas one time. I forget how many jalapino peppers had to die so that stuff could be so hot but it was a bunch for sure...

No sooner than I sat down to eat there was a knock on the door. I was not gone a full minute answering that door but still came back to discover one square of my meal missing. Plate was still in same exact spot as I left it and looked undisturbed other than the fact that exactly half the food was gone. :(

 

One girl was in the same exact spot as when I got up and appeared to have not moved at all. The other was standing in her crate licking her chops...

 

 

I rarely ever latch a crate door shut here but I latched hers for a few when that happened. She wants to steal food from me? Fine - Sit your ass there in that crate with no water for a little while and enjoy those peppers. Dummy...

You are not supposed to use a crate for 'punishment' ever but...

 

 

 

HAHAHAHAHA!!  Of our three Dobermans, only one eats Jalapino peppers - the two girls won't eat them, but 12 year old Harvard thinks that they are yummy. My husband grows them in his garden (his garden - I don't have anything to do with it haha) and Harvard will beg for peppers!  Weird dog!!

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HAHAHAHAHA!!  Of our three Dobermans, only one eats Jalapino peppers - the two girls won't eat them, but 12 year old Harvard thinks that they are yummy. My husband grows them in his garden (his garden - I don't have anything to do with it haha) and Harvard will beg for peppers!  Weird dog!!

 

Story above was previous pair. Similar to your experience, One wouldnt touch stuff like that but one had no problems with the heat.

 

Of the current girls here now - Last time I made enchiladas I set the pan I cooked all the meat, beans, peppers, etc. in down on the floor after I finished filling the tortillas to see if anyone wanted to lick at the remains before I washed it.

Rescue dog took a half lick and quickly left the area. Dystopia took about the same half hearted sort of lick / smell before leaving it with no further interest at all.

Patience left nothing behind after she got her crack at it.  :)

 

OneGun's picture
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Pet Profiles

My 12 week old named Bonnie does the same thing! As hard as it is to do don't give them a reaction as thats what they want.They want attention good or bad.Do you have the dog on a house leader?I was taught by my trainer to give 2 tugs straight up on leash and say no very firm.This works most the time unless it's between 6pm and 9pm than nothing works

Celly Swehykol's picture
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I agree with you, dogs want attention. But unfortunately, it is not always possible to devote enough time to your pet, so I compensate by picking up toys for the pet here https://www.dogblogtv.com that correspond to his development and interests.