Can't Decide How To Stop Biting

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NINKOjIN's picture
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I started crying yesterday out of frustration. I know Riley is just a baby (11 weeks tomorrow) and people say it slows down/stops when they hit 6 months or so, but I also know (or at least I've been told) that you should be able to train him to have a soft mouth now, or learn biting people is not the way to get what you want, etc..

Nothing shows the slightest sign of working, though. If I saw some glimmer of hope, a pause, a look of confusion, anything, I'd feel better. But all I get in return through any method is Riley acting like, "I guess I need to bite harder!"

Just to explain how I've been caring for him...

 

He sleeps through the night, only having to go out to potty once or twice. He is pretty much potty trained, we rarely have accidents. He's great in that department and I love bragging about it!

We wake up in the morning, potty, have breakfast, he usually doesn't finish, but eats well enough. Runs around full of energy and plays with toys and the cats, etc.. After I am dressed and have eaten, we go outside and play, and take a nice walk.

Get home, potty, do some training if he's calmed down. Then he usually takes a nap. He wakes up, potty, does some more playing and training before lunch.

Lunch, potty, either plays or takes another nap, then plays. Loves his rawhides and squeak toys. I take another walk with him and do training again before or after supper. Try to keep him awake and active before bed time so he sleeps well through the night (sometimes fail, he'll nap/sleep before bed time... but still sleeps well at night without crying).

Obviously more potty times and mini training sessions throughout the day. Game toys, I run around playing outside, have KONGs and he's always entertained, etc..

 

Now here's the thing, he doesn't just "mouth me" when he plays or wants something. He bites HARD. And I mean REALLY HARD. As in, latch onto any loose skin, like under an arm, back of my knee, hands, my side, shoulder, hair, face, whatever is near him... and clamps down so hard I have to pry his mouth open to free myself... and he often growls and shakes his head like he thinks I'm a towel toy. He draws blood most of the time.


I've shown I'm not afraid of him, I don't freak out and pull away and stuff.

I've tried "no bite", redirecting to a toy. - He drops the toy and goes back for my body.

I've tried "yelping". - He gets more excited.

I've tried growling, saying no and acting like a mother, pinching his neck or tapping his nose. - He gets more excited.

I've tried "time outs" putting him into my boring, safe bathroom and stopping the fun. - When I let him out he goes right back to biting.

I've tried holding his muzzle and the rougher stuff I don't like, but figured I'd try (I wont again). - More excited.

I've tried stuffing whatever he bites, deeper into his mouth and wiggling it to be uncomfortable and not fun. - First time he stopped and I thought it was a miracle... but now he thinks it's a game and he keeps biting no matter how far I go and how uncomfortable I try to make biting.

 

My breeder watched him for a couple days during his ear cropping and when I picked him up, my breeder had a look of frustration on HIS face even! And told me that Riley was such a handful and couldn't believe how stubborn he is. "He just comes right back at you no matter what." It was nice to hear someone else tell me I wasn't just bad at training (hell, I've trained Riley to do a few tricks super fast already).

I'm just so stuck on this! And my family is getting upset now, too, and they want me to get rid of him if I can't figure out a way to lower his biting.

Yes, I know puppies bite. I know dobermans are land sharks. I know they aren't first time dogs. I've done so much research it's ridiculous. Everything I've learned and worked with him on is doing great, I've felt so proud of myself in raising him thus far. BUT THE BITING HAS TO LOWER SOMEWHAT! I feel like everything I do makes him think it's a game and he just comes back harder. Last night someone said it looked like I was training him to be an attack dog the way he was biting my arm and wouldn't stay down. I DO NOT WANT TO TRAIN HIM FOR SCHUTZHUND!


I just want him to be a model citizen when he grows up. Be good with strangers/people. Follow commands. Be playful with other dogs. Etc..


Yes I have been doing socialization and puppy classes. He gets too rough with other dogs sometimes as well. I try to stay calm and breathe and everything, but I swear he was going to kill a corgi one time.

 

What am I doing wrong? Anything? Will he eventually grow out of this or is it worse than most doberman puppies? I'm tired of feeling like a failure and crying to myself at night over this. He's such a good dog if it wasn't for the biting.


Thank you.

Happydance's picture
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How old was he when you got him?  Maybe he didn't have enough time with mama and littermates to teach him that he's going too far with this.  It's going to hurt, but next time he's got your hand in his mouth, clamp down on his bottom jaw, look him square in the eye and FIRMLY  say NO BITE!!! Then ignore him.  Game over.  Repeat as much as you have too.  My girl is almost 2 now, and still knows those words, sometimes we get to playing and when she starts getting a little too rough and mouthy, NO BITE will stop her.  

Dennis Miller's picture
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If you're not comfotable holding his muzzle shut, then I would try time out.  Yes, time out, any little area you can block off where there is nothing in it what-so-ever for him to play or chew.  Have it in plain sight of you so he can see you continueing on with daily life.  When you take him there the minute he bites, THE MINUTE HE BITES, say "no bite" and ignore him totally for 11 minutes.  Take him out without making a fuss, put him down with a toy and walk away.  Repeat this everytime it happens without fail.  I hope you find success.  However, remember he's 11 weeks old.

NINKOjIN's picture
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Happydance, he was nearly 8 weeks old (7 weeks, 5 days). I'm not sure how long he was with his mother but he was with his litter the whole time and they were a very lively bunch. He was actually very sweet the first week or so, soft mouthing and licks only.

He bites my legs when I try to ignore, and never stops, so lately when I "ignore" I've been putting him in the boring bathroom where he whimpers a little and I let him out when he seems calmer. Will that work after I do the bottom jaw grab and "no bite" after a while? I don't really care if he winds up hating my bathroom so that's not a problem. I just don't see flat out ignoring him working right now.

 

Dennis, I will try blocking the bathroom door with something he can't get over instead of shutting the door, so he can see me do things.

 

Thanks!

michelle bacon's picture
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I'm not sure, but maybe he is seeing you and your family more a littermates and himself as the leader.  I was lucky, Niko took right to the "No Bite".  He still likes to do little nibbles though.

Dobies are a really mouthy breed and it can be difficult to teach them what is good to chew and not good.  I agree with what Dennis said, they want to be with us so badly that putting them in an area where they can see us, but not be with us is torture for them.  They learn really fast and he will figure out that biting his humans is not acceptable soon.  He's still a little baby and probably doesn't quite grasp what you are trying to do with him yet.  And it sounds like you have a strong personality on your hands.  Which from what I've heard will make the puppy time really difficult but in the end you will end up with a strong, loyal, focused, and obedient companion.  All the devilishness somehow transforms into a well-mannered dobie.

I wish you lots of luck, don't give up on him.  He just may need some more assertive training.  I'd try contacting a trainer in your area that has experience with doberpups and see if they have any other suggestions for you.

Acrantophis's picture
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We also have a young Doberman, around 20 weeks now and she has been a very consistent biter, although perhaps not as hard and so often as you describe, she has being going to weekly training classes and the advice given by the trainer was to pinch down on the flesh underneath the tongue - one finger in the mouth under the tongue and the thumb outside the mouth under the jaw. A couple of these accompanied by a verbal "no bite" and she usually decides to take a rest for a while. Prior to using this technique we were having little success at getting her to stop. Obviously, they have to have the mouth open to use this technique and the association of bite and pain do work. So far as the hyperactivity and leg biting, grabbing by the scruff, a firm shake and a loud keyword, "NO" works for us. Also, how much time are you in his company ? we found that long periods spent together without a break, could increase the hyper behaviour and a couple of hours in her own company would settle her back to normal for a while. You dont mention if you are crate training, but ours usually takes herself to bed once we put her in the room where her crate is.

NINKOjIN's picture
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Wow! Thanks so much you guys! I mean it will take some time before he fully learns not to bite, I know, but I tried the method you all suggested about leaving him in an area where he can see us but not do anything... after three tries, I already see that he calms down and avoids biting after. It's a start for sure!

Also, I have been crate training him. For the most part he doesn't cry at night in his crate anymore. And he goes in willfully if I throw a toy or treat in. Only really complains when I have to leave the house, but he calms down pretty quick in it now either way. I've been trying my best not to associate it with anything "bad".

Unfortunately, he has learned that he gets a lot of attention when he bites - it may not be positive attention ..... but to him any attention seems to be a good thing.

Try reading the book "The other end of the Leash"  - can't find my copy and can't remember the authors name.... but search for it on Amazon.com.  It is a really good book about dog behavior and gives a good explanation of how to give a dog the "cold shoulder" to extingush bad behavior.  It was really an ah-ha moment for me years ago when I read it.

Literally turning your head and shoulders away from your puppy and ignoring him to extingush bad behavior works, but you may need a behavior specialist to show you how if you are unsure.

 

NINKOjIN's picture
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Thanks, Fitzmar! It does seem like the only way to break him of this habbit will be some form of denying attention. He already seems to be listening to "NO" a little better as well. I feel a lot more hopeful now.

Kaisesr's picture
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I have written this before on this site.  Kaiser had me in tears from frustration with his nipping, and I am one patient strong willed person, it takes a lot to get me that bummed.  But I just took advice on this site.  I was very very positive with Kaiser when he did the right thing, sit, waiting for food, potty etc and I totally withdrew affection and my time when he nipped.  My hands were a mess!  I look like I had been digging in rocks for about two months.  Then one day it suddenly stopped and he is soooooo good now.  Whatever you do be consistent!!!  He really is young yet.  BTW Kaiser was taken from his mom too early, lesson learned.  I don't know how old yours was.

good luck with the monster .... : )

NINKOjIN's picture
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Same with my arms, Kaisesr, lol, I keep getting comments like, "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!", and I've been wearing sleeves a lot (in the summer, people wonder). The good news is I definitely see a decrease in biting, and he listens to "NO" so much better now! After how well puppy class went last night, and how much he has improved in such a short time, I feel really good about his future. He's even more lovable to me now that he understands I don't like what he was doing before.

I'm so glad there are places like this on the internet! I'd be screwed without it, lol!

Lfield35's picture
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thats exactly the same reason i'm looking on this site! my little Ronin is 10 weeks old we've had him for a month. i know he was taken away from his litter mates to early but we have been correcting him and correcting him!

 

so many ways and nothing nothing nothing has worked. I'm going to try the bathroom with a baby gate ignoring tactic but if that doesnt work anything else anyone could tell me would be awsome!

 

i'm so nervous im going to have an aggressive dog when he grows up. i know it gets better as he gets older but i though i would have gotten somewhere by now, every little thing i do seems to make him more and more hyper.

NINKOjIN's picture
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Yep, that's exactly how I felt, Lfield35. I was more afraid of the future than I was of him as a crazy puppy. With the baby gate/bathroom thing, I tell him "NO" when he first bites, and if he bites again/harder I pick him up and carry him to "the bad room" and again I say, "NO" or "NO BITE" as I place him in there and I walk away calmly.

I just act like he doesn't exist, and never look at him. In fact, to start, I played with his toys and acted like I was having a blast without him. Kinda mean, and he'd cry and cry... but then when he stops crying, that's when I let him out. After a few times he calmed right down, and after a few days, he usually stopped doing things when I said "NO" after that.

dukey_bear's picture
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duke bit all the time!! really sharp teeth and he would try to lunge at your face... once he was about 4-5 months, he bit me really really hard I got fed up, Tackled him to the ground, got on top of him and bit him on the scruff of his neck till he yelled.....next time it was a nip not a bit with just his two front teeth. thats easier, just replace it with a toy. with Duke it was his way of saying he wanted attention or to play, thats what we would do. sounds mean i know but hey, he never bit ANYONE ever again....

 

Everynow and then he put his mouth on you but no pressure. can't even feel his teeth. no nipping, no biting, no nothing. If you dont want an aggressive dog socialize the hell out of them and dont stop once they get older. keep up on it, and you should be good to go.