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Ankle/pant biting as play

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Hey everyone! I searched the old posts on ye olde ankle biting, but nothing really answered my specific problem, so I'll lay it out and ask for suggestions.


Essentially, in the past two weeks or so, Finnegan has started the habit of biting at ankles/pant legs/shoelaced when he's wound up and wants to play. He growls, barks a bit, and lunge-nips at feet, grabs pant legs and tugs, and/or tugs at shoelaces if outside. His tail wags, and it's generally when a toy is not being used - he wants to play, and he seems to be seeing chasing legs as a means of playing. He does it to anyone, regardless of size or sex.


What are some good, positive ways of stopping this? For the past week I've been correcting him with a sharp "at-AT" noise (my correction noise), and stopping everything, so the play stops. I praise him (and give him a treat when I have one on hand) when he lets go, and calms down. I made the possible mistake of distracting him with toys for the first week or so, and I think in doing so, I accidentally rewarded the behaviour, i.e. "Oh, you're biting my toes, have a toy to catch!"


All I'm currently doing is the stop-moving-and-correct-until-he-stops method. What other acceptable positive methods do you guys recommend for stopping this habit? As I said, he sees it as play, does it very frequently, and I would like to teach him as fast as possible that this type of play is not okay.


Thanks in advance, everyone!

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I think the method you are using is just fine. That's what I have used and I've also done the substitute a toy thing. I don't think the pup will necessarily see the substitute as a reward for the previous behavior, especially if you first give the verbal correction, then stop all movement, and then substitute a toy.



On walks when Lark was a puppy she used to be merciless about hanging on Kat's "clown ruff" just below her ears. None of the other dogs would tolerate it and would let Lark know in uncertain terms that she better stop it. Kat wouldn't defend herself, so I took to letting Lark tug on a leash so she'd leave Kat alone. Now when we're walking, if I have a leash swinging in my hand, Lark wants to tug, but I don't find that a big problem as I can simply tell her "no" and she goes on her way. In other words, she does have the idea that a leash (the substitute) swinging from my hand might mean she can play tug, but she also knows that she can play only if I allow it. So no permanent "damage" done IMO.



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Jack was a little monster about that, too. He'd even jump up and try to grab a skirt hem, or whatever. Bad puppy! But, we handled it like you are, a quick "ahhht!" and stop all movement. Finn will catch on soon enough.


PS. I must really have a bad case of puppy fever. Even the stories of the not fun part of puppy raising are making me want one. :rolleyes:

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Thanks folks! I know it will take some time, especially since I've only been doing this method for a week. I mostly wanted to make sure I was doing things correctly, and if there was anything else I could do.


I do think he's picking up on it, he seems to be doing it less - or rather, he'll often be -about- to go for the foot/pant leg/shoelace, and suddenly stop himself and lay down. :rolleyes:


I'll keep being consistent with it!

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