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NEW Puppy - HELP stop nipping feet and clothes, hands


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Help Please, New Puppy, female 9 weeks old. AMAZING dog! So far she has easily learned sit, down, to lay down... and a fun game... go to your bed! She runs and hops in her bed! All accomplished with treats... positive reward.....however, I can not seem to get her to understand grabbing legs, pant legs, feet, hands, clothing.... is a no no... I have tried shaking an aspirin bottle, with a NO... it seems to stop her for a brief minute... however, seems now to be less and less effective. We also are having a lot of trouble on leash, how do I get her to stop grabbing the leash? snap on leash... etc? Most puppy classes want puppy to be 10 weeks... she is 9 now. I am open to attending, want to be sure they also work on positive note. Snickers was a rescue, and we appreciate all input and advice. Thank You

 

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Welcome to the Boards and congratulations on your new puppy.

This topic comes up repeatedly, so you might want to do a search for the many threads that have addressed this.

BTW, great that you want to use positive methods, but you should be aware that shake cans (or bottles) are not positive training methods.

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Welcome, and what GentleLake said! This topic has come up many times so do try a search. There have been many threads with good advice. 

In a nutshell, anything that amps up the arousal (and that can include shake cans, etc.) is not usually beneficial. And, like anything that is a sound deterrent but doesn't have a real effect, she's going to ignore the shake can because all it did, initially, was interrupt her concentration. Now that she's learned it's nothing really, she can ignore it. 

There are a couple of approaches to a nippy pup - one might be to give the pup an alternative to feet, hands, shoes, and pants, by providing an acceptable toy instead. Something like a tug rope that's made of braided fleece material, that's easy on baby teeth and lets her exercise her desire to nip and shake without doing any damage. Lots of times, when you have a behavior you don't want, find a substitute behavior you do want or that is acceptable, that she enjoys. 

Another approach is that this behavior is often due to your movement - if it is, stop your movement. If a pup finds that attacking your pants or shoes results in all the fun and enticing motion stopping, that can help her lose interest in attacking. Again, try substituting another activity/behavior to occupy her - a chewy rope toy or a ball. 

Some people find it effective to squeal "ouch" (or something similar) when nipped at. Some pups will respond to that by sitting back and thinking about how they stepped over the line, just as if they had nipped a litter mate too hard. Some pups have much better natural (or mother- or litter-trained) bite inhibition, and this can include nippiness. You may find you need a combination of approaches. 

I'm not all positive in my approach - I like to be as positive as I feel is reasonable but sometimes I also find a correction to be my choice. That can be as simple as a sharply-expressed "acht!" which many pups/dogs correctly interpret as "No!" but which seems to work better than the word "no". Sometimes a mouthy pup, especially one who gets mouthy at certain times or aroused at certain things, just needs a time-out in the crate or x-pen. Many pups do get over-aroused when they are tired, like at the end of a walk or playtime, or in the evening, and some crate time (with a chew or Kong or similar diversion, or no diversion at all because it's nap time) is a good alternative. 

Some pups get nippy and it's all good fun for them - some can get quite a little bit of rage going on. I had one that was the second kind - when that happened, I would take him by the scruff and lift his front feet slightly off the floor (supporting his weight with my other hand under his chest), and talk to him quietly and firmly until I felt him relax and quiet down, and then I could let him down again. In no way was I choking or hanging him; he was totally supported by my hands, but he was also not able to continue trying to nip or escape me. He was simply in a position where I was in control and he was not, until he gained control of his state of mind. 

One thing to remember, especially with smart dogs like these, is when you let a behavior happen (intentionally or otherwise) more than a very few times, it often becomes a habit. The more it's happened, the harder it will be to correct, retrain, or manage. The good news is that this is a common puppy behavior, as undesirable as it is, and often with care and training - and a little age - the pup will get past this annoying (and potentially dangerous, with those sharp teeth) phase and become much more responsible. Remember to respond, generally, to your pup in a business-like and matter-of-fact approach, and not an emotionally-reactive fashion that will tend to amp up the arousal. 

Is your leash-grabbing problem an issue when you are putting the leash on, or when you are walking her? I don't have an issue with a pup that wants to carry or play with a leash while we walk but I would want to deal with a pup that attacked the leash when I was wanting to put it on her collar. 

There are people here who can give you much better and more detailed advice, and I hope they chime in. Meanwhile, check out the search function and you may find all your questions answered. 

PS - And remember, they might do somethings different in Iceland... ;)

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I'll add a couple things to Sue's great post:

27 minutes ago, Sue R said:

...she's going to ignore the shake can because all it did, initially, was interrupt her concentration...

Like Sue, I'm not totally averse to some forms of correction, usually verbal, but I used to use shake cans a long time ago and my experience with them is that they created fear of them in my dogs and that wasn't something I wanted to perpetuate. This is a sensitive breed, and especially sound sensitive, and while some dogs and even some border collies won't be too negatively affected by something like this, others will over-react and go off the deep end and generalize fearfulness to sounds. It just wasn't something I wanted to do.

Also important is being very consistent in your response when she gets bitey. Not only will behaviors become habitual, but if you don't follow through with whatever correction you choose (I personally like to ignore the puppy for a few minutes after squealing "ouch!") each. and. every. time. your pup will learn that she can get away with whatever elicited the correction at least sometimes, and if it's an especially self rewarding behavior she may keep it up just because she enjoys it and can sometimes get away with it, which is its own reward.

As for what they do in Iceland, I have no idea what the video was supposed to illustrate. :lol:

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Sorry, in a bit of a flippant mood today. My point was, a nine week old bordercollie pup nippy, and not perfect on a leash? In my experience normal behavior  at this age. It will pass.

Of course both you and Sue give fine pointers in how to handle the situation. More helpfull than my jocular post ;)

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17 minutes ago, Smalahundur said:

Sorry, in a bit of a flippant mood today. My point was, a nine week old bordercollie pup nippy, and not perfect on a leash? In my experience normal behavior  at this age. It will pass.

Of course both you and Sue give fine pointers in how to handle the situation. More helpfull than my jocular post ;)

 

17 minutes ago, Smalahundur said:

Sorry, in a bit of a flippant mood today. My point was, a nine week old bordercollie pup nippy, and not perfect on a leash? In my experience normal behavior  at this age. It will pass.

Of course both you and Sue give fine pointers in how to handle the situation. More helpfull than my jocular post ;)

Thank You!!! I understand this is normal puppy behavior.... I am trying  very hard to do everything correct, this has led me fearing leash work.  The nipping at feet, hands, pants when moving... I understand.. natural for her... however I wish to discourage it... I have tried the OUCH  in high loud voice...and the shake pennies in a can...  however seems to maybe distract for a moment, then back at it... perhaps this just takes more time.??.. I appreciate your feedback very much.... She has a fenced yard... and we live on a 20 acre horse farm... we have been taking our walks off leash in the hay fields, etc. in fear that I may do something wrong... 

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As the band played, "This Too Shall Pass"! But not generally without some input on your part to encourage progress and avoid bad, lingering habits. 

Horse farm? Make absolutely sure that you do not allow her to "turn on" to horses because working them is bad for the horses and dangerous for the pup/dog. I'd probably avoid the horses for the time being. I have had two who turned on to horses, when I was more ignorant, and horses are just too risky. 

Play in the yard. Do leash walks, relax about her playing with the leash, and do some off-leash walks, too, as long as you know you can call her back or catch her (that's where the yard is good) or put her on a long line that she can drag so you know you can catch her. 

And, yes, it certainly takes time. Each pup is different and some require very little incentive to control the nipping while others take much longer. As GentleLake said, consistency is vital! Otherwise she will learn that bad behavior is sometimes rewarded and therefore it is worth trying. Don't ask me how I know... ;)

 

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37 minutes ago, TAG said:

perhaps this just takes more time.??

Yep. Rome wasn't built in a day and babies of either the human or puppy variety don't grow up overnight. Remember that at 9 weeks old your puppy is just a wee baby.

Remember the 3 Ps: Patience, Practice and Persistence (aka consistency, but it's not a P word ;)).

Again, do a search to find lots of detailed responses to this topic.

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When my very strong willed Australian shepherd puppy started nipping at clothing with those needle teeth, normal corrections (ouch, no, turning away, not moving) didn't work.  The safe "grab by the scruff" method that Sue R describes worked the first time.  He never did it again, and fortunately I never needed to grab again. 

He also playfully grabbed and held his leash, but that went away by itself as he matured.  In his case, I don't think the two behaviors were related.  The leash holding seemed more like, "we're walking, but I need to do something with my mouth too."  Since he was otherwise well behaved on the leash, I ignored it, and it stopped completely when we started obedience classes.

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The one way we got our puppy to stop biting hands and ankles was to spray de-odorant on ankles and hands, our Harry did not like the smell so did not nip. Anyone visiting had a spray before entering. He is now 7 months old, still gives the occassional nip, but knows the words no and naughty and time-out when all else fails. With regards to the leash, we could only keep Harry in our garden till he had all his vaccinations so we only put him on a lead starting with a couple of minutes and as soon as he tried biting we took it off, did this a few times a day. When we went to puppy classes we had to get a metal short lead, that improved the biting of the lead straight away.

Good luck.

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When the puppy bites, take her gently but firmly and without comment and put her away. In a crate, in another room, wherever she is confined and hidden from everyone else in the household. Do this Every. Single. Time. Without. Fail. She is trying to get your attention, and if you simply remove all attention she will learn that she gets what she doesn't want, and will stop.

The shake can is not positive reinforcement.

I don't recommend using that.

Do a search and you will find that this exact topic - nipping and biting in a puppy - has been covered extensively very recently here. Welcome to the boards.

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Thank You for ALL of the great advice. I have stopped the can shaking ... had no idea that was not considered a positive. Duh..... am trying very hard to do everything in a way that will be the very best for Snickers... my new pup. I have searched the other topics concerning my issues... If I am out in the field it is impossible to put her in a crate, I can not get to the house fast enough. You have given me a lot of great ideas... I will continue to educate myself for the best possible methods. I am committed to doing what is the best for her, hope to have a very balanced social happy dog that will be welcome everywhere. I apologize I have not figured out to respond to you individually, please know I am grateful to each of you for taking the time to offer some help, and kind words. I even enjoyed the Marching Band! 

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If you are out in the field and a crate is not available, can you simply take her by the collar, gently and firmly,  or else leash her up, and take her back to the house ? Leave her shut in for a few minutes, same think as crate.

It doesn't matter where you take her as long as she can't get out and it is safe. Think in terms of your goal: You want the dog to learn that if she does certain behaviors the fun all stops and she is sequestered and away from everyone else. If she does other behaviors, the fun continues.

I would take a clicker with me everywhere and a pocket of treats. When she is behaving nicely, is calm and not jumping up or nipping, she would get praise and clicks and treats. The second she jumped up or nipped or grabbed, off she would go to wherever I put her.

If you don't have any way to do this out in the field, then don't take her into the field until you have fully addressed and changed this behavior. If she gets away with it ANY where, it will undo all your sincere efforts to train it out of her. Training has to be 100% consistent.  

My dogs are very well trained. Every once in a while one of them "forgets" something I have fully trained into that dog. I never, never, never, ever, let it go. No matter the circumstances, no matter the timing, nothing.  I am not upset in the least, but I do whatever it was that I did when I was raining the dog about that behavior, to remind the dog that it is never acceptable to forget that training. It may be a shortened version if I am in a hurry or modified if I am away from home but there will always be a gentle but firm reminder.

The dog need to believe that this is a law of nature, immutable and constant, like gravity.

While this is a puppy behavior and fully understandable as such, it is something you need to take seriously in terms of training and not just assume it will go away. It might, but it might not. Anything not trained out of the puppy can potentially become an adult behavior.

 

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 D'Elle Thank You very much for your time and very helpful information. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and expertise. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I am determined to do things correctly and in the very best interest of Snickers. 

She has easily learned sit, down, go to bed, give me a paw, and today.. crawl.... she seems to enjoy these sessions and learns very quickly with treats as reward. I know as others have said, this too shall pass, in time, though as suggested, do my part to help it pass. Thank You Again! I am so excited to have this puppy and hope to learn a lot of great activities in the future we can do together. Thank You.

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Time...my Midge was a terrible 'nipper' at that age and nothing stopped her.  She would turn round and nip if you stroked her, picked her up or just walked past!  But by around 14 weeks that disappeared and to use her teeth on anyone now (at 3 years old) would be unthinkable to her.  It was nothing we did in particular and I certainly never punished her - just quietly put her back in a play pen - she just outgrew it, just as she wasn't an affectionate pup, but is now a very affectionate dog.  So just give your pup time.  

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It's not quite the same issue, but I convinced a young Border collie puppy that chasing the cat was NO FUN some time ago by locking him in a "time out" in the bathroom. It only took one or two times locking him up before he realized that the consequence was NO FUN. I used the same approach to convince the next young Border collie that jumping on people had consequences (grabbing him and hustling him into a crate, from which he had NO access to exciting visitors). Again, it only took a couple of incidences before he stopped jumping up on people.

If I had a pup that was over-nippy, I'd do the same thing. A firm "NO!", followed by a time-out. They're bright. They'll figure it out. You won't damage their psyches.

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