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Okay all of you patient and wonderful advice givers. You all keep offering all kinds of super valuable experience and input - I think this might be the last topic I start for a while until I have a progress update for those of you who keep tabs on our little projects :rolleyes: .


First, some background that's unrelated to Sophie. My mom has a dog - Bandit - who, although sweet in general behaves quite badly and is difficult to control. Well, this dog randomly growls if he feels you look at him cross eyed. I had always had good experiences with him and one day (because he had never acted on the growls) I bent to give him a smooch and he bit and tore open my lip...boy oh boy did I learn my growling lesson and a permanent scar to remind me about growling dogs - anytime anyplace anywhere. So, I'm a little sensitive to the teeth.....don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of dogs now or anything--just more healthily aware.


So....with Sophie, given that she's generally such a great puppy...her playtime snapping, biting and bearing all her chops makes me worried. I've followed all the advice everyone has given here on the boards aside from crating. I don't crate her because I simply work too much and have no vehicle to come home and check on her while I'm there--for now--this should be remedied pretty soon. I'm sure it will take time, but, here's why I need the advice:


It only happens during free playtime with or without her ball when I let her run free. When I try and teach her to drop the ball, or reach for the ball she snaps and bites and shows all her teeth----I could count them if I tried hard enough. Otherwise, aside from normal puppy stuff, she's an angel. She doesn't growl and when she does show her teeth she's rolling around on the grass, showing her tummy and smiling with all her teeth. She'll pretty much obey commands to lie down or stay, but as soon as we start playing again...she's like a dog possessed. I've tried holding her by her scruff - which she used to respond to - but, now she's getting far too strong for me to hold down in that way before she squirms free and thinks I'm playing and down come the teeth.


I've been so happy with her and today I got emotional because I was afraid of her turning into Bandit. That's an irrational fear, but I had tears well up all the way home---she's so well behaved and happy and a really really good girl on the leash and in the house. I'm giving my all to this pup and I really wanna teach her how to play politely, but it really really hurts when she play bites.


:D :D :D :D

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Guest WoobiesMom

I went through this with Woobie, but he attacked my legs. He'd give a little play growl or yip and run back and forth nipping my legs. I was black and blue. I tried the scruff as well and it just didn't work that well. But you have to teach them that that action brings all the fun to a complete stop and loses your attention. Some use the crate as a time out, I just had a conveniently placed bathroom and went into it the minute he nipped at me. Sometimes I would say a harsh NO! and sometiimes not. I wanted him to associate biting my leg with end of fun. I'd stay in for a minute or two (stock with reading material!) and then come out and ignore him until he calmed down and seemed to accept that play time was over. Then I'd start playing again. I wanted to send the signal that play time happened on my terms and under my rules. It took a long time and I had to be super consistent for about 2 solid months before he finally got it. Now, if he's been cooped up and we haven't had walk or dog park time and he tries to initiate play by biting my legs, I go right in the bathroom and he stops. Along with that tactic I also found that by immediately doing clicker training or fetch would usually give him the interaction and activity he was craving but in a controlled way that prevented him from having the opportunity to nip. But still, there were times when I had junk going on and did not have time to play or fool around on his schedule, so I had to have a way to send the signal that his behavior wasn't going to be tolerated. I also found that it just worked best if I could schedule his physical activity for those "zoomie" times when he was just going bonkers. I was lucky that I could do that, but it really prevented alot of power struggles for us. Hope this helps! Good luck!

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Ruger has bit me hard enough to bruise and has put holes in my pants. All of this was because I allowed him to play too rough. My fault and not his. And this is why, neither one of my dogs is going to bite me or growl at me in anger. I won't put up with it. Just like my kids, they are not going to go off on me in a temper tantrum either.


All that is takes for Ruger to roll over and submit is one harsh word. I don't have to beat him or get physical. However, that is because he does not have the mean streak to dominate. You need to watch Cesar Milan and see how he handles agressive dogs. You have a dog that needs some work and if you can't take a ball from him you may need someone to train you how.


One more thing to think of. Ruger is my first and only herding dog. I have been around bird dogs for a number of years. I found that Ruger has a much harder mouth than any of the bird dogs. He is simply not fun to rough house with although he has gotten much better as he gets older. Ruger onced nipped me through my winter jacket and it hurt. My advice is not to allow any kind of biting unless you have a high pain tolerance. However, if your dog bites you for fun what is it going to do around small kids?



Good luck.

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Hi Rugersdad,


It seems as if the biting is conditional to the crazy play time and no other forceful biting, otherwise. I think she forgets her own strength when she's playing really hard. She doesn't bite hard at all, in fact she's really gentle with her teeth, indoors and on the leash. It's getting better, I've been working with her and realizing it may be a reaction to fast movements.....I didn't adopt her when she was a baby puppy, she adopted me as child-pup, so I don't know how she was trained (if at all) with her previous owners.


If I move slowly and close to the ground with removing the ball and she's way calmer. Also, I've tried the Milan --I think it's an alpha roll?--trick with Sophie, but she's too strong, now for me to keep her there. She wiggles and squirms and is out in a heartbeat. She responds to the initial scruff down and submits - but won't stay after that. As if she's saying- okay okay, i get it, let me up.


Anywoo...the next day, she was much much much better--after the lots of no's alpha rolls and stern talking to. She's becoming much more manageable. I think it took my getting really upset for her to get it.


She's still sassy when she's playing, but my bruises are healing now. :rolleyes:

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I didn't get a chance to get back with you yesterday. I hope Sophie is calming down. Both our Springer Spaniel and Ruger respond to harsh commands. I can stop them on a dime and in fact they will instantly roll over on their back if I get mad enough. That isn't too often though. I have mentioned this before in here but I have to be careful whenever I am watching a ballgame on TV. If holler at the TV over a bad play Ruger will come over to me like he did something wrong. It is really kind of funny. I just let him know he is the best dog in the world and that he would have caught the ball.


Keep the correction rolling and don't let her get away with anything you don't like. Discipline is so important. It may save her life one day or keep a child from getting bit that tries to take the ball from her. Calm and submissive. They are the best traits. Let the stupid pit bull owners get sued or go to jail over making an agressive dog instead of training them to be calm and submissive.

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Hey Ruger,


What really sucks is that she's such a lover. She's been getting better. Oh dear does she still want to bite. But, she's responding to the noes way quicker....it kinda makes her think that that means she can't play, but I think she's smart enough to figure it out :rolleyes: .


She's certainly not dangerous - in the common way of thinking - but you're right about the kids thing. Heck, I'm worried about adults too. She charged some people in the area yesterday, too. Not aggressively, but they didn't know that. Of course, when she got to the people she turned into a big old wagging ball o' mush. Ears flat against her head, not jumping on them....just a licking machine.


She wasn't facing me and isn't so great on recall yet, so I couldn't stop her. I knew she wouldn't hurt them, but all I could do was yell "don't move, it's okay". I knew that if they tried to run or move quickly she would chase and then there might be nipping. Luckily the people were understanding and not afraid. They were more afraid of her nails than her teeth HA!


Anyway, luckily, the only real aggression she's displayed is during intense playtime. And, I don't think it's even real aggression....just not knowing her own strength....she's learning.


I usually go to the park at night when there are way less people. Luckily, I can tell - from afar - when people are wary of a dog, cuz they'll go totally out of their way to avoid her. Some can even tell that she's "in training" and are really really really good about giving us our space.


The sad thing is...if you see her from a distance...at her age and with her coloring--you might think she's a pit if you weren't familiar with dogs.

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Ruger has taken off after 3 different people. I got him stopped every time and I still don't know if he would have done anything. I don't want to ever find out either. All three cases were a territorial thing. I didn't count the UPS guy the other day, four. I have even stopped him when he was chasing cats outside. He seriously doesn't like anything in his yard.


When I was in high school and college my parents had a big male German Shepherd. This dog did not tolerate any horse play in the house. You don't want a 125lb GSD angry at you either. I also had no doubt that any burglar dumb enough to break into the house would have never walked out. He was a great dog and loads of fun to play with. I have been around territorial dogs. Theres good points and bad points. You have to be in control at all times.


Anyway, during playtime I have always stressed discipline as well. It just takes time. I will throw the frisbee with Ruger on a stay. I will make him go down when he is bringing it back to me. Even when I walk him I will make him go down and stay at an instant. All of this just reinforces who is in control. In reality, there is never a playtime that is undisciplined.


Border Collies can be trained to do just about anything. This is what I have loved about Ruger since I got him 2 years ago. Its all up to the imagination and time.

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