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9 week pup playing or aggression??


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Hi all after some advise on my new pup Boris (he is 9 weeks). 

Firstly this forum is fab and has been a great source of information. 

So Boris came to us a week ago and we all absolutely love him. We are a large family so plenty of people to play with, cuddle and train. 

Think we are almost there with toilet training, only ever had the occasional wee accident and no accidents over last few days. I started training from the very first day he is sitting beautifully now for all of us (for a treat of course), responds to his name and is starting to leave.

I am just wondering something sometimes he will start snapping and growling at me and does the same with my 4year old son grabbing his trouser i know this is completely normal and usually a toy distracts him and we then stop our play or whatever we are doing, but today he has been biting me more when i am cuddling or giving a nice scratch or after training. When i say enough he then starts barking, grabbing my clothes and growling. I get his attention of me and then leave the room for a minute. When i have came back in again he has been ok looking for affection and then starts again. Even if I am sat on the sofa he will try and jump up and snap and yap at me grabbing my clothes. Is this to play? For attention? Over stimulated? I take him outside every hour or 2 and he has loads of toys and I do training for mental stimulation. I am assuming this is normal puppy behaviour learning boundaries ect but just wanted to double check to see if i am doing something wrong or missing something or could try something else. As tonight me and my daughter have had to leave the room during a film which I don't want to become a habit due to this. 

I have recognised when hes having a play in the garden when he starts to snap and growl he is over tired so I pop him in his crate for a rest... I don't want to associate the crate with bad behaviour so unsure if I am meant to use it when he starting? 

Also whilst I am asking lots of questions is it normal for them to whine and yap for a few mins when first going into the crate? I don't crate him very often have built it up over the week no more then an hour or 2 at a time. Usually pop a toy in there with treats in. 

Thanks in advance for any advice it is greatly appreciated. 

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Hi Sian, and welcome to the forum.

While biting is completely normal for a puppy, that doesn't mean it is acceptable. You need to train him not to do this, because if you continue to allow it he will grwo into a dog whi thinks biting or grabbing a trouser leg is acceptable, and that is not what you want. Plus, if he bites someone outside of your family, or bites a family member hard enough to need medical attention, he may be taken from you and even face death. It's up to you to make sure he learns now, and learns thoroughly, that biting a human being is never OK.

It doesn't matter the reason he is doing it. Just make him stop doing it!

Just distracting him is not enough, because it doesn't tell him that biting is wrong, it only tells him that if he bites he will get a toy. In effect, that is rewarding the biting.

No matter where or when, if he bites you need to say a correction word like NO, or Ah-ah, and put him immediately into his crate for 5 minutes. Let him out without any fanfare, and repeat as many times as is needed for him to get the idea. If all the fun stops and he doesn't get to play or be with people any more whenever he puts his  mouth on a person, he will learn not to do it. Even mouthing gently is not to be allowed, because if he gently mouths someone as an adult, it will be seen as biting.

Now, about the crate. Of course you don't want the crate to turn into a "bad box" or be associated with punishment. But whether or not it is is all in your attitude. If you have an attitude, body language, tone of voice, facial expression of punishment, he will take it that way. If you don't, he won't. So, when he has to go into the crate try saying "Uh-Oh! Baby needs a time out" in a normal tone of voice, and then put him in the crate with the same body language you would use to put him in for night time. When you let him out again, make no big deal of it, just open the door. I really like using "uh-oh" because it's hard to say it in a negative way.

The whole thing needs to be approach not as crime and punishment, but as cause and effect. Biting makes it necessary for him to go into the crate for a while. As if it were a law of the universe, like gravity, not something you are doing to him. Hold that attitude when you are putting him in, and it will be fine. but don't put him in with food or a treat; you don't want him to think there's any reward at all for biting or for growling.

Here's the other thing: Everyone in your household, including the kids, must be 100% consistent with this and with all other training. If you aren't, it won't work. He will just figure that sometimes he gets away with it, and that is likely to make him keep trying the bad behavior to get to that one time he got away with it! If you cannot count on your kids to be 100% consistent with this, then never allow them to be with the dog without your supervision until you have not seen him attempt to bite for several weeks.

finally, start closely observing the dog so that you learn all of his body "tells" and what all his body language is communicating. I find this a fascinating thing to do in any case, and still do it with my older dogs, but with a puppy it is necessary. By doing this you will learn when he is starting to get close to that over-excited or tired threshold and you can stop the play or activity before he gets to the stage where he feels he needs to bite or snap to tell you he's had enough.  Call an end to the play as soon as you see him starting down that path and put him in his crate for a nap with a nice toy or treat. Pre-empting the behavior is as important as correcting it, or more so.

Best of luck and let us know how it is going.

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