ETA: You've got to be super consistent though, if he bites again 2 seconds after getting out of time out, he goes right back in.
I love love love giant breed dogs but had never had one since my parents weren't so into that idea when I lived with them. After a year of waiting we ended up with a Leonberger and a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Both female, so on the small end for the breeds, but both would likely be over 100lbs at full growth. I had never trained dogs so large so I read EVERYTHING I could, mostly definitely including Ian Dunbar. I was psyched to try all these new training ideas (my parents were fairly old school with their dogs), including time outs for biting, yipping to simulate the sound of a biting dog if they bit, etc...
What happened? My Swissy wasn't to bad, she was never a big biter at all. The Leonberger on the other hand sounds just like yours. OMG, you couldn't put your face anywhere near her without getting bit, nevermind what happened to hands and arms. She was a terror! None of the suggestions I read worked with her, so I went back to the method my parents used, that had produced a bunch of dogs with absolutely wonderful bite inhibition.
Everytime she bit I wrapped my hand around her muzzle, held it closed, and said "No bite", very sternly Once she got that (and it took a VERY short time) we moved on to more bite inhibition and teaching her to mouth us softly. Now I'm happy to say that a year and a half later she is a certified therapy dog visiting children in hospitals and would never DREAM of biting. She's also 95lbs and definitely still growing so I am very glad that we got to the bottom of that while she was still young, this is a dog that weighed 22lbs at 8 weeks old!
I still feel time-outs and yelping are the better options to begin with, and they did work for our Swissy, but sometimes you need to step that up. As a vet tech, trust me when I say I can't stand dogs that have not learned proper bite inhibition. I also always strive for positive training but I don't equate animals with humans in that way. If you watch a dog correct a puppy for biting they do not just put the puppy in timeout and an adult dog also does more than just yip like another puppy. My puppies were always corrected by my parents' adult dogs (5 of them), with a good bark and snarl and occasionally having their muzzle grabbed. It never went farther than that, no fights ever even came close to breaking out, it was just the proper dog method of saying enough was enough. I don't agree with hitting dogs, I don't agree with "alpha rolls" (dogs don't actually do this to each other), I am okay with a correction that is truly inline with what they would get from another dog. I also know that it worked to produce many terrific dogs with great bite inhibition. It's never the first thing I recommend but it is what I reach for when other methods have failed.
and 3 , in our happy secular
Your puppy is at prime teething age. The vet told us that our pups would be teething for the next 2-3 months and they're almost 20 weeks. And they do bite everything! And I mean everything! Unfortunately, I think that it is something they can't help - at least until the teething stage is over.
I've read that when a puppy bites you say OUCH in a loud voice and set them down/walk away - withold affection/attention. Obviously, the puppies want and seek our attention and our pups have quickly learned that biting us leads to no petting.
I haven't figured out how to get them to stop biting THINGS, but, have removed anything I don't want chewed, and, like a toddler, keep redirecting them to their chew toys.
Sigh. I have tried all of these tips. It does not work with this dog. We are considering getting rid of the dog as he has progressed to trying to bite the children's face and he has lunged at mine twice. This is beyond normal puppy biting. I don't know how to make you guys understand that. I have been around puppies my whole life - his behaviour is not normal puppy teething. He is biting aggressively. He is growling and lunging at our faces, hands, legs, whatever he can get. He bit the back of my calf yesterday and it left a mark. I can't live like this.
This sounds like our dog as a puppy. I don't think I have any great advice for you. Our dog would bite my hands and face, he would lunge at me with his mouth wide open. I hated going into the room he was in because I felt I was being attacked. He bit my earrings off on more than one occasion. I had holes in all my clothes from him tugging on my pants, sleeves, etc. I hated him. I wanted desperately to get rid of him but my husband wouldn't hear of it. We tried everything. We had a trainer come in to try to work with us, but it didn't make a difference. He is a big dog (~120lbs full grown) and he scared me.
What we realized: Puppy teeth are SHARP! Once they loose those teeth, things that seem vicious aren't so bad any more. They also don't wreck clothes just by walking past you.
We exercised him more, with very controlled, short-leash, no wandering, no smelling walks. We would walk and he would follow and that was that. He spent a LOT of time in his crate. You know that image of dogs who run around and around and around and then suddenly crash into a sleeping puppy at your feet? Our dog would NEVER do that. He would get more and more wound up and bite more and more and I would get more and more frustrated then I'd leave the room and he'd tear things apart and then I'd cry- and so on. We finally figured out he needed to be crated, basically all the time. He would go out for a pee, come in and play for maybe 30-45 minutes and start to get bitey and we'd put him back in his crate where he'd sleep for an hour or so then go out to pee, repeat. The SECOND he got wound up, he was crated. I see a lot of people (ie, my MIL) dealing with a wound up puppy and getting more and more frustrated and I just keep saying, "crate the dog! You're not being mean, they need a nap!"
And he grew out of it. He was AWFUL until about 6 months, then really lousy until about 9 months, not great and I still didn't like him much until 1 year, by 1.5 he was mellow and calm and didn't bite at all and only mouthed occasionally (no teeth, just slobber) and now at 2.5 he's incredibly gentle and kind and well mannered and an all around fabulous dog. I'm sad to think sometimes that if it weren't for my husband putting his foot down and saying we are NOT getting rid of the dog, we would have missed out on all the good stuff that comes with dog ownership.
I am so totally 100% adamant that we are NEVER ever ever getting another puppy. Puppies are NOT for sissies. Or, I would contended, not even for normal people :P Luckily puppyhood is short!
Grace - wife to Jeff and mama to Nigella (11/08) and Orrin (01/10)- expecting a new addition (05/12)! Life is a whirlwind, but I'm learning to enjoy the ride!
Honestly, it could be so many different things and if you are leaning towards re-homing I agree you should do it soon so that someone else will fall in love with this puppy and keep him. If you wait until he is grown and a year old you are taking all the cute suck-you-in puppy time, and if you haven't fixed the crazy biting it will be harder for some other family to fall in love and feel invested enough to keep him.
That said, I really think this is something that could be fixed given the right knowledge and a huge commitment to work on it. And now you know the reason many people adopt adult dogs :-)
We have a pug/poodle mix and she bit like freaking crazy when we first had her. Seriously didn't think I was going to keep her and I gave it a good month. That dog would nip/jump/mouth everything and she was 1 1/2 years old so didn't get to use the "teething" excuse. (I do think that is part of your problem with Titus though--prime teething time).
What working for us was:
A LOT of exercise - biking, running, walking, playing. You have a growing puppy so will want to be careful here, but figure out what you can safely do with him to leave him absolutely exhausted at least three times a week. Get him seriously tired out and you won't see the frantic "I'm bored" nippy behavior.
Changing to a raw diet -- so easy and the results in behavior came quick (one or two weeks and I saw a huge difference). Also I notice that when she is in the kennel for a few days she is a freak-show for the first few days back and I attribute that to diet mainly
Copious use of the kennel when she couldn't sit for long and was acting badly. Now she sits well and if she starts acting nippy/jumping I have her stay in a sit until I have a chance to take her to potty or out to exercise. It's you job to keep yourself and family and the dog safe and if he just can't sit and won't stop biting he needs to be in the kennel.
Pugs seem to be very stubborn, so you will have your work cut out for you. My advise would be to think of him as a 200 lb. dog and allow/disallow behavior from that perspective. I know you are obviously frustrated with the biting, but is there something else he does that you would NOT be okay with a bigger dog doing? When I started looking at my dog that way, I saw a lot of just plain bad manners that I really didn't like, but kind of thought of a "cute". They weren't, and we are working on those now :-) (One example is that she would spin circles when she was getting ready to be fed and had starting doing this spinning/jumping thing in the kitchen. Can you picture someone letting a 200 lb. dog do that? LOL
I've had pugs for 15 years and it doesn't sound that out of the ordinary. Most dogs are very mouthy at this age and also do that play aggressive thing, it's part of normal puppy socializing and learning. Heck our current 7 year old pug once in awhile does that jump towards your face thing when he is excited. My suggestion is to keep him away from the face for now especially when he is excited, use the crate for time outs as was already posted, make sure he has chewy toys that are just his and the kids aren't allowed to play with, and do not play tug of war with him.
edited to add, ours was a crazy paper chewer when he was young. He grew out of it though.
Yep, puppies aren't for everyone. Our current pug we got as a puppy, but I have adopted adult dogs when I was at a stage of life where I knew a puppy wasn't appropriate. And honestly with small children, getting an adult dog is so much easier.
Have you considered having a trainer in? They would be able to tell you if the behavior is normal and see if there's anything you all are doing that could be changed to improve your results. There's only so much people on the internet can do, unfortunately.
That being said, I don't know if this is helpful or not, but I've often had good luck with removing *myself* from interacting with a mouthy puppy vs removing the puppy. It avoids interaction while moving him to his timeout space and makes it impossible for him to practice the behavior. Play pens are great for this as you can just step over the pen wall as soon as the pup mouths.
Every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every cubic inch of space is a miracle. (Whitman)
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