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Hi all,

i have an 11 month old male bc.

in the last 4-6 weeks he has started biting and reasonably hard, enough to break the skin and cause pain.

He does this generally as per the following;

- when you try to take food or the likes off him (understandably) not that I regularly do that but if he takes food he shouldn’t.

- cleaning a window he will jump at you and bite.

- clapping your hands he will jump at you and bite.

- Cutting hedges or plants outside or emptying the lawnmower catcher he will jump and bite to get what you have or get to what you are doing.

Any help on this would really be appreciated as I cannot have this occuring.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Eek! I hope that sounds worse than it is!

I am no expert and can not offer any advice on your dogs behaviour, however it might be helpful for the people who may be able to offer help if you explain in more detail:

5 hours ago, DavidT said:

started biting and reasonably hard, enough to break the skin and cause pain.

Often when dogs start biting to hurt, people consider them dangerous and start asking whether the dog should be euthanized. However, if I started flapping my hands around (I've not tried clapping near my puppy) my puppy would probably try to grab them, and in doing so might inadvertently catch my hands with his teeth hard enough to hurt. Obviously neither is acceptable but there is a difference.

You don't say whether your dog has been neutered, if this behaviour has got worse since you got a new puppy, if he's routine has changed much recently or how you've been dealing with it for the last 4-6 weeks. Maybe if you talk about what you've already tried people can offer new ideas.

Most of those things you can hopefully keep him away from until he's been desensitised to them and learnt some manners. The training never ends.

 

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If this is as sudden as it seems to be, the first thing I'd do is take him to a vet for a checkup to be sure it's not related to pain or an illness.

As far as food's concerned, I'm of the firm belief that all dogs that live with me must be taught to allow me to take food from them if I choose to do so. That doesn't mean I'm going to constantly be taking food away from them for no good reason, but they need to understand that I'm in charge. So I'd teach a good leave it cue for food and put a reliable wait cue in place so that the dog isn't permitted to start eating until I've released him.

Biting as severe and this sudden is definitely cause for concern, and if you're not confident you know how to deal with it I'd recommend looking for professional help pronto. I'd be looking for a veterinary behaviorist or a certified animal behavior consultant before this gets any worse than it already is.

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I agree with what Gentle Lake says above. And will add: While you are dealing with this issue, do not clap your hands, or do any of the other things that trigger him in his presence. Remove him form all of the things that set him off, because the more times he bites the harder it will be to train him out of it.

Secondly, start now with training a Give It command. Give him something like a toy he likes but is not crazy about. Offer him a tasty treat and give him the cue, and when he puts down the toy to get the treat he gets praised, and as soon as he swallows the treat he gets the toy back again. Do this a lot. It results in his associating the cue with a win-win situation. He gets something even better, and then gets the original thing he had back again. You can do this with toys of various values as well. Don't move to take his food from him until you have very thoroughly established the game using things he values less than his food bowl. 

I also recommend that you immediately seek qualified help from a positive reinforcement behaviorist to deal with the biting. It is a very serious problem which, if not corrected, may very well lead to lawsuits and worse to the confiscation and possible death of your dog.

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"Positive reinforcement"? To each his own, but an 11  month old dog that jumps me, bites hurtfully, breaking the skin as described, in those kind of situations? The germans have an expression "ein blaues Wunder erleben". That is exactly what my dog would experience if he would start such obnoxious and potentially dangerous  behaviour. 

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20 minutes ago, Smalahundur said:

That would look really good on a fortune cookie.

:lol:

Nah, too long for a fortune cookie. Maybe a bumper sticker. :lol:

There is some merit to it though, despite its sloganesque ring.

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57 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Countering violence with violence -- or aggression with aggression -- often leads to an escalation of the violence rather than lessening it.

Agree.

Reacting by slapping or other kinds of physical punishment could make it worse, or maybe it would work, but do you really want to risk making the problem worse? Also, if your goal is to have your dog view you as a safe person to be around and someone they can trust, slapping them upside the head and the like would be very counterproductive to this. 

How much time do you spend with your dog? Is it possible he's not getting enough attention from you, or maybe he hasn't enough to do during the day and is bored?

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3 hours ago, Smalahundur said:

"Positive reinforcement"? To each his own, but an 11  month old dog that jumps me, bites hurtfully, breaking the skin as described, in those kind of situations? The germans have an expression "ein blaues Wunder erleben". That is exactly what my dog would experience if he would start such obnoxious and potentially dangerous  behaviour. 

Um, have to agree here. If he's jumping up, I'd be catching a bit of rough , collar, body, anything, while he's in the air and giving a good scolding. At 11 months he's not a baby anymore. Not a vet, but if the behavior only happens in certain situations it's highly unlikely something is medically wrong, sounds like more of a lack of mental control and some lack of leadership. Yes, I'd want my dog to go suck his thumb and be upset, when corrected, as I'd want to extinguish this behavior right away.

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I think it's very odd that he responds so strongly to these varying stimuli. Reacting aggressively to food being taken away is the only one that seems 'normal' to me. And by normal, I don't mean something that should be allowed, but trained out. Understandable, though.

The others, clapping hands, washing windows, doing yard work are not the usual things that drive even an anxious dog to bite as hard as you say he is.

So, yes, get yourself and your dog to a veterinary behaviorist. And maybe even a veterinary neurologist, if such a thing is available where you live. If you're close to a university that has a veterinary school there might be one there. 

Good luck and please let us know how you get on.

Ruth & Gibbs

ETA - it might be that he's simply overstimulated by these motions, and you need to teach him to remain calm. That would be your best outcome. But it still seems way 'outside the box' to me.

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21 hours ago, urge to herd said:

ETA - it might be that he's simply overstimulated by these motions, and you need to teach him to remain calm. That would be your best outcome. But it still seems way 'outside the box' to me.

That is what I was thinking, which is why I suggested making sure the dog is not exposed to any of those things for now.

Reacting aggressively to a dog who is being aggressive is counter-productive and will only increase the aggressive feelings in the dog and damage the relationship between you and the dog. A good leader never needs to assert him or herself by using aggression.

If the source of the biting is not aggression but fear or anxiety, reacting with a slap or other physical harm makes it worse because it means that now the dog is also afraid of or made anxious by you in addition to the first fear, and it teaches the dog that he or she cannot count on you. Not good at all.

That doesn't mean I would passively allow a dog to bite me or someone else if I saw it coming. I would put up my knee to bump off the dog just as I do if the dog tried to jump on me, or I would grab the collar or scruff the dog if possible and I would say No. But not with anger, not aggressively, not to punish, only to prevent.

The idea to me is first to prevent the trigger from occurring, then to work with much milder versions of the trigger, at a distance, so as to condition the dog out of the reactive behavior. Not just to pop the dog one every time he bites. That is not likely to be very effective, and will certainly change the relationship between the owner and the dog in a negative way. I have seen this happen. The owner did not end up with a calm, friendly dog and a good working relationship. 

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On 9/10/2018 at 10:30 AM, GentleLake said:

Countering violence with violence -- or aggression with aggression -- often always leads to an escalation of the violence rather than lessening it.

Fixed it.

For those countering violence with violence on their puppies, I'm interested in hearing the positive effects. Those who recommend kicking their dog on leash when they won't stop pulling or react out of fear obviously haven't any experience with reactive dogs.

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David are the object he is biting and grabbing always moving??  Does he react the same way to other moving objects - balls, tires, birds maybe?  If he is jumping and grabbing moving objects I would leave a leash and collar on him and correct him for this with a correction that makes him stop and think, talk to him and redirect.  This correction could be a simply AH or a leash jerk or loud noise...The more times he practices the behavior the harder it will be to correct.

I would set up sessions where you are prepared to deal with this, correct it and move on to something else.  Then come back and see if he repeats the behavior. Praise for thinking and hesitation, correct for wrong behavior.

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Hi all, thanks for the great responses. I'll answer some of the questions asked in point form.

 - He mainly reacts this way when there is an object that he wants or thinks is his. The other night I was wiping off the filter of the heater and the clicky noise from rubbing the cloth down it made him jump up a few times trying to grab it and in turn bit me on the side. The same when cutting branches outside, he wants them so jumps and bites. The other day I was wiping water off the floor with a towel spilt from his water bowl and he walked on it and declared it his and when I went to go and take it he attempted to bite my hand, no contact made, but attempted none the less.

- I generally tell him off in a loud stern voice and say "NO  BITING" and maintain eye contact, he generally is submissive and lays down on the ground and then turns his eyes away, knowing he's done something wrong. If severe enough I will grab him by his collar and put him outside, whilst I have hold of his collar and pulling him outside he is trying to bite at the same time.

- I do not think this is neurological, It's more behavioural.

- He has been desexed.

I have made contact with a behaviouralist and will look at the options to train this out of him as I will not accept it.

Thanks again for everyones comments.

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14 hours ago, DavidT said:

I generally tell him off in a loud stern voice and say "NO  BITING" and maintain eye contact, he generally is submissive and lays down on the ground and then turns his eyes away, knowing he's done something wrong.

The behaviorist will likely tell you that this isn't an acknowledgement of wrongdoing on his part but rather his offering avoidance behavior (aka calming signals) in response to a perceived threat from your yelling at him and making eye contact, which in dog language is threatening. So he's asking you not to follow through on your threat.

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I would correct till he 'gives ground' - backs up, moves off ect.  not just appeases you.  If he is still repeating the behavior he is not believing your correction.  Putting him outside will not fix it.  

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I agree with Gentle Lake that his behavior in no way indicates that he "knows he has done something wrong", but is avoidance behavior. Dogs don't think the way human beings do and don't have the same ability to know right from wrong until they are trained. Grabbing him by the collar and dragging him outside is not effective. He may see it as an aggressive act on your part and he may be afraid, hence the biting. Or, he may be a dog who hates to have his collar grabbed. I had one like that. In any case, I advise that you stop this behavior on your part because it is clearly another trigger to him to bite.

If he wants the stick, wants what you have, etc, as soon as he looks interested and before he starts jumping around I would, instead of letting him ratchet up to biting point, grab a toy or treat and distract him from the object, lure him with nice voice into a different part of the house or yard where he will not get back to where that object is. From what you are describing it is not aggression that is making him bite at all. It is over-stimulation, lack of impulse control, and lack of training. There also may be a fear element when you grab his collar. All of this can be trained effectively away, but not by the use of violence, leash jerks or other heavy handed physical corrections, or physical coercion on your part.

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48 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

I agree with Gentle Lake that his behavior in no way indicates that he "knows he has done something wrong", but is avoidance behavior. Dogs don't think the way human beings do and don't have the same ability to know right from wrong until they are trained. Grabbing him by the collar and dragging him outside is not effective. He may see it as an aggressive act on your part and he may be afraid, hence the biting. Or, he may be a dog who hates to have his collar grabbed. I had one like that. In any case, I advise that you stop this behavior on your part because it is clearly another trigger to him to bite.

If he wants the stick, wants what you have, etc, as soon as he looks interested and before he starts jumping around I would, instead of letting him ratchet up to biting point, grab a toy or treat and distract him from the object, lure him with nice voice into a different part of the house or yard where he will not get back to where that object is. From what you are describing it is not aggression that is making him bite at all. It is over-stimulation, lack of impulse control, and lack of training. There also may be a fear element when you grab his collar. All of this can be trained effectively away, but not by the use of violence, leash jerks or other heavy handed physical corrections, or physical coercion on your part.

Could you give some examples on how to train a dog that has a lack of impulse control? I would find that very helpful.

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On 9/12/2018 at 12:27 AM, DavidT said:

I have made contact with a behaviouralist and will look at the options to train this out of him as I will not accept it.

Thanks again for everyones comments.

You might ask the behaviorist about teaching a "leave it". I teach it via positive reinforcement, and it has come in very handy for me with my dogs. For example, when I'm hosing down the vinyl siding to my home, Hannah's response is to want to play in and bite at the water. Instead of putting her in the house, I can tell her "leave it" and she will leave it alone. 

Even more importantly, there was a black rat snake in my backyard yesterday morning. I was trimming vines off my back fence, and I backed up along side the rather long, fully stretched out snake. Now I'm not afraid of rat snakes, but I really just wanted him to go be creepy somewhere else. I could have stepped on him. So, I poked the snake in the tail with a pooper-scooper (hard plastic, not metal) and told Jan to "leave it". I was able to get the snake to go under a bush without Jan running after him (which she clearly wanted to do), or worse, grabbing him.

I think that in some, though not all, of your described situations, a "leave it" might be of some help.

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On 9/12/2018 at 12:27 AM, DavidT said:

I have made contact with a behaviouralist and will look at the options to train this out of him as I will not accept it.

Assuming they are well educated and actually qualified to work with dogs, consulting a behaviorist is the most helpful thing IMO and I'm glad you are able to do so. Best of luck. 

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Impulse control begins with anything that runs counter to a dog's doing what it wants to at the moment. Sit and lie down combined with a stay begins building impulse control, because the dog is expected to stay where it is rather than going off to do what it wants to do. Teaching the dog to sit and wait while you put down his food until she's given the release to eat is another good beginning exercise, as is a leave it cue for food and anything else the dog would like to engage with. Begin slowly with few distractions, then gradually work where there are more distractions to cement the behavior.

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^ what she said.

Make sure you start out with the easiest thing, not with his food bowl. A short sit stay of a few seconds, then praise and treat. Short down stay the same. Then, sit and stay for a few seconds longer, and so on.

Then....Doggie Zen. Sit on the floor. Put a treat on the floor with your hand over it. As soon as the dog stops trying to get the treat, praise and reward with the treat. When the dog figures out that he has to refrain from mugging your hand to get it and as soon as he backs off he gets it, you have started on impulse control. Very, very slowly increase the time the dog waits for it, and add in your "wait" or "leave it" command, then release him with another cue and lift your hand.  When this is really good, you can start lifting your hand a bit so that the dog can see the treat while he is waiting. If he lunges for it, back down goes the hand and you back up to several steps previous and make that solid again.

The idea is that eventually you can put something down on the floor, even his food bowl, and say your cue and he will wait to get it until you tell him it is OK. This also teaches him that the food bowl is not controlled by him, but by you. 

I taught this to one of my dogs, who bolts his food. Slowly built it up to where now, I can say "wait" and he stops eating and sits down. I can then put something extra in the bowl, pick it up, whatever, and then release him to eat again.

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1 hour ago, D'Elle said:

Then....Doggie Zen. Sit on the floor. Put a treat on the floor with your hand over it. As soon as the dog stops trying to get the treat, praise and reward with the treat. When the dog figures out that he has to refrain from mugging your hand to get it and as soon as he backs off he gets it, you have started on impulse control. Very, very slowly increase the time the dog waits for it, and add in your "wait" or "leave it" command, then release him with another cue and lift your hand.  When this is really good, you can start lifting your hand a bit so that the dog can see the treat while he is waiting. If he lunges for it, back down goes the hand and you back up to several steps previous and make that solid again.

You can also do this with a treat in your hand. It's especially useful for dogs who take treats roughly as they learn to control the impulse to be grabby and learn instead to take a treat nicely.

You can also teach the dog to leave the food in your hand to the "leave it" cue. When the dog successfully ignores the food in your hand, praise and give a different treat held in the other hand as a reward. This is especially useful if the dog will be around small children, who often walk around with food in their hands.

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