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Still having biting issues

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My pup is now 7 months old. She no longer has her sharp baby teeth, but she still bites HARD!

She will grab my hand to get my attention when I'm on the phone. When she's excited and playful, she'll do a quick run-by nip at my hands or my clothes. She will jump on my son and nip at his sleeves. When I have treats, she will sometimes (not always) nip at my hands.

The past month or so, I've been faithful about putting her in her kennel for a nap when she gets nippy. I would lead her with a treat. But then she started catching on and would not follow the treat or she would come up to get the treat and then, as soon as I remove her leash (which she wears indoors), she would take off running. When this happens she runs through the house, jumping on the couch or the bed like it's a chase game.

I would sometimes be able to get her into a sit for a treat. As I'm feeding her, I'd hook her leash and lead her back to her kennel. But she's caught onto that trick and won't sit during this excited time, not even for a really tasty treat. When I'm on the computer, which is often, I keep her nearby by attaching her to a 15-foot leash that I've anchored to a piece of furniture. That way, she can wander a bit but not go far enough to get into trouble when I'm not looking.  She has water, a play toy and a chew toy at all times in here. But she will sometimes demand my attention -- usually when I've answered the phone -- and will grab at my hand with her teeth. When that happens, I ask the caller to wait a minute while I switch to a short leash and lead her to her kennel.

But things have once again escalated.

Now, when she gets to biting on me, she knows what's coming. She will go ballistic and start biting me hard as I attempt to swap out the leashes. She will lunge and bite the inside of my upper arm, my hands, my wrist the entire walk to her kennel. It's gotten so bad that I now hold her collar, pick her up and carry her to the kennel. Once she's in my arms, she will either calm down or bite with less aggression and then go right into her opened kennel door without argument. But getting hold of her collar is a big problem. I grab hold and she bares her upper teeth and snarls at me. I worry that  the next escalation will be when she no longer allows me to carry her into the bed and instead takes a chunk out of my face.

Please note: I work very hard to use a neutral voice and not treat her kennel time as punishment. I started with simple coaxing with a treat but have resorted to carrying her because her escalation has resulted in more hands-on approach to getting her in her kennel -- not vice versa.

Also, while it sounds like I'm describing a very aggressive dog, the truth is that she's actually quite a good girl. The only time she gets aggressive if when she's overly aroused (playfully or during a temper tantrum). But I need to nip this in the bud so it does not become an aggressive dog problem.

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You need to train a crate behavior at other times. 


I mean the biting issues are a big issue and I acknowledge that (and have little to no advice on that), but you need to teach her 'crate' and make it a good thing, not exclusively use it to predict 'you are in trouble and being put up/fun will end'.  Ask her to crate for two seconds when there is no biting, and toss a treat in and let her come out immediately.  Crate her with a kong for a nap when she's being GOOD.  Ask her to do crates in it.

If this crate is too posioned get a new one of whatever kind you don't have (solid, wire, whatever).

 

But you do need to be able to do the leash and crate stuff without her freaking out and that means she needs to not associate it with fun ending/stopping/bad things.   . 

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if you put a crate in the room with the computer, you could play an-and-out crate games with her from time to time whenever she's there with you (you'd have to get up to close the crate door sometimes, but on the whole, it wouldn't interrupt your work) which would make her feel much happier about going into the crate since 99% of the time she'd get a treat and not get long-term incarcerated... plus which, it would mean you don't have to take her as far when she DOES need a time out. Maybe even have several crates at different places in the house. I know it can be a pain in a small house, and inconvenient and not necessarily what your decorator would recommend, but think of it as a temporary thing to get her thru this stage!

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I think 7-9 months can be the worst! 

Just keep doing the good stuff. 

Some great advice we got was that when they are in that ‘full on’ mode you are wasting time trying to get a sit - you have to do something that moves them forward with you like ‘let’s go’ or ‘Find a toy’ and go with them. Once you get the play dealt with and their focus back it’s easier to get into training mode. 

It took us a while but ‘find a toy’ or if outside ‘find a stick’ has become soooo useful! 

Sometimes we also ‘go for a walk’, spend just five mins outside and then with leash still on we walk back inside to his crate and pick up cookies on the way. Our guy now pulls me to his crate lol! 

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We resorted to time outs in another room or conservatory just for a few minutes. We then played ball with ourselves, or if it was just me at home, I would throw the ball in the air and catch it. My boy didn’t like missing out playing ball so got the message soon that biting meant no ball. I also sprayed deodorant on my hands and ankles, this helped as he didn’t like the smell. He is 1 year old now, and is so much better.

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I agree with Cpt. Jack that you need to use the crate for many other things, not just for a time-out. Feed all her meals in the crate, for instance.

However,

If she is biting hard and snarling at you in an aggressive and not a playful way, you should consult a good positive-reinforcement behaviorist and trainer to get specific tips on how to manage that and train it out of her now, rather than waiting for her to grow out of it. The thing is that without actually observing the behavior first hand, it is impossible for someone to advise you on what is going on or how best to handle it in specific ways relevant to that dog, and that is what you need. A good behaviorist would be able to do that. A dog may be expressing a number of different things with that behavior, and sometimes it really takes another pair of eyes to see something that you, being so close to the situation, don't see.  I wish you the best of luck!

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Yeah, not to cop out, but I agree with D'Elle that you need professional help with this before it gets any worse -- someone else who's experienced and qualified to observe and advise you.

It's possible a really experienced and excellent positive reinforcement trainer could help, but because this has escalated to the degree it already has and the dog is so quickly adapting and changing her behavior in response to your efforts I'd be inclined to recommend a certified animal behavior consultant.

Wishing you the best.

 

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I had mentioned the biting to our trainer a couple months back but didn't tell her about the recent escalation, mostly because I was embarrassed and feeling like a doggy-mama failure. I should note that while some things are worse (my pup's reaction to her biting "time outs") other things are better (biting is much less frequent, she has longer periods of calm, she will lie on the bed with me while I take an afternoon nap).  

I am fortunate to attend training classes at a center owned and overseen by a woman who is a certified dog behavior consultant. This weekend, I again mentioned the biting issue. We had a good discussion about my pup's daily routine, her at-home training sessions, etc.

Straight away, the trainer warned me that I have a lot of work ahead of me. Border Collies, while smart and "easily trainable," are more easily bored and need lots of mental and physical stimulation. This was not news to me but, to be honest, I was not as prepared for this pup as I thought -- especially now that I've recently been diagnosed with a balance disorder. It's not easy to do a lot of training with limited bending and head movement. Also, my girl just turned 8 months (not 7 as I originally posted). She is an adolescent. We have a full year and a half before her mental maturation catches up with her almost adult-size body, our trainer said. 

In addition to our three/four times-a-day Frisbee play, I need to play her to exhaustion three times a week. Unfortunately, she means Doggy Exhaustion, not doggy-mama exhaustion. :o

I need to continue our previous training exercises (puppy push-ups, name recognition, stay and "zen" aka: leave it) many, many times a day. I need to make sure the zen practice includes a full 1-minute wait for each treat drop. Although she is completely house broken, I need to entice my girl to go in and out of her crate many times a day, not just when it's time for bed or a nap -- something I should have done a LOT more when she was a small puppy.

Finally, our trainer suggested a transfer from basic dog training class to the tricks training class, which should give my pup an additional brain workout.

If we continue to have problems, I will ask about private behavioral sessions. I know she offers them because I've seen them on the website. They are a lot more costly than our weekly group classes, though.

Also, I still plan to pick up a copy of Control Unleashed Puppy Program and add some of those exercise to our training routine.

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I think your instructor has given you some very good advice, especially regarding having your dog go in and out of the crate frequently every day for very brief pleasant bits of time.  Some dogs are fine with spending extended time in a crate pretty early on.  But for many pups, if the only time they are crated is for what seems to them like a very boring eternity, then it's not surprising that they will join the resistance when you try to send them to their crate.   So, a minute of crate time  here, five minutes of crate time with a stuffed kong there, throughout the day should help with her attitude toward the crate.   Enrolling in a trick class should be fun, and is probably at least as helpful as enrolling in a basic training class.  At this age your goal is for your pup to learn how to learn.  She might as well develop that skill doing something more fun than just doing sit/stays and walking on leash.

But I STRONGLY disagree that you have to be doing training sessions many, many times a day, and I REALLY STRONGLY disagree that you should be physically exercising your pup to physical exhaustion on a regular basis.   First of all, you can't do that.  You will keel over from physical exhaustion yourself before you manage to physically exhaust a healthy adolescent border collie (or lab, or golden, or aussie, or springer, or beagle, or....). And even if you manage to hire someone training for an ironman triathalon to exercise your pup, all that you will have accomplished is that you will now have a nice healthy adolescent dog who gets antsy if she doesn't run ironman triathalons every other day.  Won't that be delightful.  On top of that, it's not good for adolescent joints to be exercised to the point of physical exhaustion on a regular basis.   So, you'll have a healthy active dog who expects to run 26 miles a day and then go for a swim and run along beside a bike for a few more hours, but she'll also be in chronic pain.   Swell.  Likewise, if you give your dog "many many" training sessions, then she will grow up expecting your active attention many many times a day.   Every day.  For the rest of her life. Take your dog for a couple 45 minute walks every day, and throw in a couple 15 minute physical play sessions/pee breaks  in between.  Spend another 15 minutes or so a couple times a day training.  The rest of the time, she can be loose in the house under your supervision, or tethered to something immobile with supervision, or in a crate, or in an X-pen if you want to give her a bit more room to stretch out. 

I think what often happens is people think their pup needs this enormous amount of attention and exercise, and so they provide that.  And lo and behold, after a couple years of devoting their life to fulfilling what they perceive to be the needs of their pup, provided both dog and owner survive, the pup does finally mellow out and start to learn to relax.  And the proud parent attributes all that to his/her hard work.  But 75 % of it was just that pup and owner managed to survive until the pup reached maturity.  I'm not advocating that you neglect your dog, and certainly regular mental and physical exercise and socialization are important.  But raising a dog, even a border collie, shouldn't require your undivided physical and mental attention every waking moment, and if you provide that to puppies you'll end up with adults who demand that. 

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Hooper2 is right: if you give your pup too much exercise it is bad for her physically. If you give her training and other attention many, many times a day she will expect that forever. You run the risk of creating a monster; a dog who will be demanding of your time and energy beyond what you (or anyone else) can reasonably be expected to give.

What I do is just ask for one thing at a time. So, when breakfast is to be served, the dog has to do one thing to get the bowl put down. Then, maybe 2 hours later, one thing to get a little treat.  One thing before we go on the walk. One thing to get bedtime biscuit. And so on. But not training sessions many times a day. This is in addition to daily routine training such as having to sit and wait politely before going out the door, standing to have feet wiped, and so on. 

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D'Elle and Hooper:

Hmmm . . . I think you may have touched on something our trainer missed. I'm retired now so I have the time to be with her and I give her a LOT of attention. Perhaps I've spoiled her.  It's quite likely that I've already started down the path to creating a monster. I hope it's not too late to undo the damage.

 

 

 

 

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It might be helpful if you think of giving her lots of attention as simply an 'oops' on your part, instead of 'spoiling her'. It's not the end of everything. You undo it by training an alternate behavior, such as lying quietly for longer and longer periods of time. Part of raising a mentally healthy border collie, (IMO) is teaching an 'off-switch'.

Do you leave her behind when you run errands? That is trainable, too.  Mentally healthy dogs have learned that they are not being deserted forever when their human leaves them at home.

I've made my own errors in having dogs and have had to 'fix' them. It's not as difficult as you might think.

Ruth & GIbbs

 

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Urge to Herd is right. This is only an oops, and is correctable. Dogs can learn new things at any age, and your is only a pup. If you change things now it will turn out fine. Believe me, we all make mistakes!

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Just correct the bad behavior. The amount of time and effort you've put into getting her to the crate is wasted as the behavior has already happened. Corrections go a long way. Do it once, do it right.

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I personally found that at 10 months old, our energetic, crazy pup turned into a calm, quiet dog. Firstly I changed his food from a commercially made puppy to to a freshly made food. I cannot say this is the reason, but it seems to coincide with the changeover. He is now 13 months old and apart from waking up earlier and earlier each day, (3.45 am today,); he is very chilled in the day. He gets 3 good different walks each day, a couple of 10 minutes play with ball, tug or fetch. Plus I do regular sit, down, stand and wait. He is still a bit wild when my 2 adult sons come in from work in the evening, as he sees them as playtime.

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