Play biting, barking, growling??

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CatherineR's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-15

I have a 9 week old 3/4 doberman who has just started to learn how to bark and growl.

Usually it's directed at her toys/blanket but sometimes if I am asking her not to do something - for example yanking at the corner of the living room rug, or jumping up at the seat to get to me when I'm sat down - she will let out a little bark. If I reprimand her with a gentle "no" or "UH-Uh" she stays bottom on the ground and will yap at me or do a little growl or sometimes a couple of snaps (opening and shutting of her mouth).

This has only happened a couple of times and 99% of the time she's a star. She otherwise responds well to a "no" or "uh-uh", she will get down off things when told and settles happily on the floor beside me when I don't want her up.

I've had her for a week tomorrow and have just started doing some basic commands with her which she is responding well to. She is quite a 'mouthy' puppy especially when hungry but I always replace hands with toys and if she gets too mouthy when she's on someone she get popped quiety and quickly down so she knows what's acceptable - too many attemps at hand nibbling stops play.

Would just love to know why she's doing it, what I can do to avoid it and if it does happen - what's the best way to respond?

Thanks, Catherine and Bella

Legend of Zelda's picture
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Joined: 2010-12-23

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Zelda used to do the same thing with the snapping and groan/growling for me when she was a few months. She just wants to play is all, I'm sure. It also might be a dominance issue, but you're handling it well.

Just to add, you're doing a great job with her training with her mouthing!

jeshykai's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-02

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She's doing it because she's a young puppy, and she is still learning bite inhibition and appropriate communicatin with you - a human.  Up until now, this level of response would be directed to her playmates (her littermates) and it would instigate fun games of rough and tumble.

Just continue to redirect her and when she gets bitey/snappy/growly, tell her "no" and then end the game by walking away.  She'll pick up quickly that this is not a game that you want to play with her and will find other means to play with you - fetch, tug, etc.

And now that you're starting on basic commands, she'll learn other fun ways that you two will work together.

CatherineR's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-15

Thank you. I just want to make sure that she knows it's not acceptable without turning it into a face-off.

If I do more than just "no" and leave she will continue to growl/snap/bark as though it is dominance related. I want to make sure it's behaviour that stops now rather than risking her thinking that barking/snapping/growling is a good way to get people to leave you alone.

Is there anything I can do to help her be less mouthy?

Would socialising her with an older dog help? She was removed from the litter at 6 weeks and spent 2 weeks with a a breeder who let her mix with the dog and two bitches occasionally.

Thanks

jeshykai's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-02

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I don't know why they would remove her from the litter and her mother at 6 weeks, it's better they stay until they are 8 weeks for development.  But it's done and over with now.

You need to be careful who you socialize your puppy with, at this age she hasn't had all her vaccines and is very prone to getting Parvo.  Look in the Health section for a thread on 'Parvo and why we vaccinate'.  So long as the other dog has had ALL of its shots updated this year she should be fine but keep in mind puppy playing with an older dog can be too much on the puppy.. it really depends on the dog.

There are many different ways people will tell you how to handle your dog.  My way may not agree with everyone's, but what I do is when my dog is doing a behavior I want ended and I want them to calm down RIGHT now... I grab them and put them on their side and hold them there with a "settle".  Eventually when you put them on their side you don't have to hold them as they know it's a "settle" and then a release as soon as they settle is coming.  This also helps when they go to the vet to be used to being held on their side or placed on their side as MANY procedures are done with the dog on its side.

Another way to reprimand is a squirt bottle.  A squirt to the face and a firm "NO".  Do not waggle your finger at them like you would a child, that will keep them barking.