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Old 04-11-2007, 02:40 PM   #1
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Default Some puppy play questions

I like play fighting with my dogs. My first dog never played rough with me. He was too much of a mother hen to do that. He was so careful around me that when i would give him a snack i had to make sure i held it at the very end, otherwise he wouldnt take it from me because he was afraid he might nip me.

Then bandit comes around and she's the total opposite. Cant count how many shirts of mine she ripped while we were fighting or how many times i got smacked in the face with a paw. But we got bandit when she was a little over a year old already. So she knew enough that i would play with her like that, but not to try doing that with my mom or sister.

Now i have Kay (name i decided on finally) and she likes to fight. Her bites to me can sometimes be a bit hard, which means for most people its definitely going to be too hard. My friend isnt really too fond of her play bites.

So....how should i approach this type of situation? If i say yes and everyone else says no, will she get the idea that she can play with me that way but not anyone else? I also realize since she's so young she's going to be pretty hyper. I keep trying to distract her with things for her to play tug of war with, but she seems to like my hand (or any hand) best for that. I just ordered some more toys for her so hopefully with more of a selection she'll be entertained. She does seem to have a knack for wanting to play with everything other then her toys though.

If she does bite too hard, whats the best way to tell her that? Yell no? Grab her by the scruff of the neck and give her a bit of a shake (not very roughly)? A tap on the nose and yell no? Should i have my friend put some bitter apple on his hands?

I'm also getting the impression from playing with her that she's a bit of an alpha dog. Since if i grab her in a bear hug, she wont sit still for that for more then a second or two, and if i do it for too long, she starts whining and barking - but not growling.

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Old 04-11-2007, 02:50 PM   #2
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I'd be correcting the play biting and mouthing under all circumstances & discontinue any tug-of-war games. I believe any time a dog has its mouth on you that it is unacceptable behavior & can escalate, if tolerated, into a dominance problem that won't be as easily corrected once the dog is an adult.

Puppy biting is often considered "cute" and "fun" and left uncontrolled will likely result in an adult who is either considered a threat or actually becomes a real threat. There's not much "fun" in that type of "cute" coming from an adult dog.

I recommend you work on stopping that behavior all together by firmly saying "NO" and replacing your hand with an acceptable chew toy & praising the puppy for mouthing the right types of things. The dog is likely confused as to why it is acceptable to bite one person & not another. I strongly believe this behavior should be corrected consistently by all who spend time with your pup.

Being "hugged" is not a normal activity of a dog. Many will object to it and I'd avoid it until you have her dominance in check.
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Old 04-11-2007, 04:27 PM   #3
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Sorry Merk but I have to agree with Katz that in general it is not a good idea to encourage any dog to 'play rough' with people, especially if it involves biting hands. If you do wish to continue you could put the behaviour on cue so that the dog is only permitted to wrestle with you when you decide and give the cue. This should mean that she is clear that other people are not fair game since they did not issue the release cue.

Re the biting, I would simply end the game and walk away.

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Old 04-11-2007, 04:38 PM   #4
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hmm, wow i have to admit i'm surprised. With bandit she was really good about it without needing any real training. She knew she could play that way with me, and didnt play that way with anyone else. And when i told her to stop, she'd stop. Then again after we stopped i'd usually give her a dog biscuit, so i guess she had some incentive for stopping when i wanted her to

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Old 04-11-2007, 05:06 PM   #5
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Stopping when you ask is of course essential, but I would also look at putting starting the game on cue simply because this way your dog won't feel that she can initiate rough play with other people by grabbing them with her teeth - many people would panic if this were to happen.

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Old 04-17-2007, 02:55 PM   #6
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There can be a couple of different opinions on this and I think it may be a guy thing sometimes.....

Some people will say that a dog's teeth should never touch skin under any circumstances.
There is a another opinion out there which says that it is not such a bad idea to have a dog "playbite" your hand, because if you can yelp when it gets to be too much, this helps train the dog to know how much pressure can safely be applied to a human hand. This can conceivably come in handy if the dog wants to gently take your arm and show you something, lead you somewhere etc.

I have found that when there are guys who like to roughhouse with their dogs, the dogs do understand who they can cand cannot roughhouse with. It can get a little dicey so if you want to completely avoid risk, keep your hand out of his snout. If you think you know what you are doing, well you will be in the minority but you will not be the only one out there doing it. Just be aware that if your dog puts here teeth on someone thinking they want to play rough and makes an error in judgment, it could count against your dog as a "bite".
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Old 04-17-2007, 04:04 PM   #7
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well for now I think i am going to stop her when she starts it. I'll play with her a bit and maybe allow it. But I'll let her know if it gets too rough. And I'll correct her if she tries to do it with anyone else.

if it seems like she's getting out of hand and doesnt understand when its ok or how much is ok, then I'll just put a stop to it completely.

personally, i like play fighting. But if it seems like something thats going to lead to something bad, I'll correct her on it and stop doing it.

So far though i'm encouraged, since after telling her no for the last few days, she's been much less likely to start it, and when she does, she's more tentative about it.

With bandit though she was absolutely perfectly safe. Our next door neighbor had a small boy 3 or 4. And she never once used her mouth on him in any way other then to kiss him. So she definitely knew what the limits were. Since Kay is just a puppy I'm sure it'll take a little longer for her to figure that out.

Thanks for all the advice

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Old 04-27-2007, 04:04 PM   #8
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Well just a little update. I still wouldn't mind her playing this way, if she understood no means no. And once she starts playing, she doesnt really seem to get what no means. Even if i grab her by the scruff and push her down to the floor or a quick shake and yell a loud NO, she just seems to think its part of the game. Or she gets frustrated and gets even more hyper.

The only success that I think i've had is doing a little play training with her. I was trying to teach her to fetch a ball. While i was doing that she seemed content with that and didnt bite. But the instant i stopped, she wanted to bite. At this point you cant really pet her because she wants to bite. And bending down for a kiss you are gambling if she's going to kiss you or try and bite your face. The only upside to that one is when she does try to bite my chin or ear, she does it a lot softer then my hand. So at least somewhere in her doggy brain she has some idea of how hard is too hard.

But I really want to get her out of the habit of thinking a hand is a chew toy. When she is a little older and less mouth/hyperactive, then maybe I'll play with her that way. But right now, like Katz said, I dont think she quite knows enough to understand the difference between too much and too little. So for now I think I'm better off with none at all.

One other thing i've noticed - if i initiate some wrestling with her, she's much more controlled about it. She doesnt get too hyper and her bites are much softer. So i was also thinking maybe i would do that for a few minutes. But I would keep my hands out of her mouth for most of it. And when I'm done, I'd wave one of her toys at her to get her focused on that instead, like i did with trying to teach her to fetch.

The thing that really worries me is i've never raised a dog from a puppy. The closest experience i had with that was Bandit, and we get her when she was around 2. And we didnt have to house train her, and she already knew the basic commands. And with playing she knew what no meant, and she knew who she could (me) play rough with and who she couldnt (mom, sister, occasionally dad) play rough with. I dont think that was any real training. Just the fact that she was older, so a little more calm and had a little more doggy common sense.

With Kay i cant tell if she's just being an active puppy or if it's potential problems I should worry about. I think i might contact a dog trainer that works at a rescue and see if maybe we can go through a training session or two to see what he suggests.

Thanks again for all the advice from everyone.

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Old 04-27-2007, 04:35 PM   #9
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It sounds like you've run into the dog who has convinced you that you may be seeing signs of behavior to come. I think you've made some good choices based on the behaviors you've been seeing.

I always advise structured training as I don't think there is any replacement for it that has such positive results. You'll be pleased with your results. All you need to do is be consistent and have patience & the benefits will be great.

I wouldn't be too worried about this puppy behavior as it is just that — puppy behavior — and perfectly normal puppy behavior at that. It doesn't make it acceptable just because it is normal; however, having the knowledge, patience and consistency to redirect your pup into more positive behaviors is key.

I think you're well on your way to following exactly the right path with your pup. Keep in mind, there will be twists & turns along the way and probably a few steps backward now & then which are also perfectly normal. Kudos to you!
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Old 04-27-2007, 04:38 PM   #10
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Thanks for the words of encouragement. You have no idea how many times i keep freaking out that she's going to be mal-adjusted or too unruly.

Raising a puppy is definitely turning out to be a new experience with a long learning curve.

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