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PrincessJenni

Will NOTHING stop the biting?

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Help! Molli (my BC) will be 15 weeks old tomorrow. I got her when she was about seven and a half weeks old. The first night she was here, I got up in the middle of the night to check on her. I put my hand out to her in the crate and she licked it through the bars, and I was totally smitten. Somehow, though, the sweet cuddly little puppy I brought home is SOOOO not the puppy I live with.

 

Molli is a biter. I think I have tried every suggestion I've read on this board, as well as a few others, and continue losing the battle of the bite every single day. I have receied more scratches, bruises, scrapes, etc., in the almost two months since I got Molli than I've had in 9.5 years with my cat (who still has his claws), and when she's biting, she's scary!

 

I have tried to evaluate the biting situation objectively (as opposed to viewing it from the perspective of a chew toy), and I've tried to convince myself that she's only playing, but I honestly don't believe that she is. I've tried to keep up with exactly what I'm doing when she starts the biting, looking for a pattern, but there doesn't appear to be one. Although the first snap often comes out of the blue, it's very evident when the subsequent snaps are coming because she wrinkles up her snout and the snaps. (But for the snapping part, I have to admit the nose wrinkling thing is hysterical, but I haven't let her in on that bit of information.)

 

I've tried grabbing the offended area, crying 'ouch' and turning away for a minute, but all that's gotten me is one pair of ripped pj bottoms, one pair of ripped yoga pants, and a tear in one of my sweatshirts. She starts jumping up and down like a jack rabbit, snapping her jaws all the way, and whatever's in her path is in serious trouble!

 

I've tried grabbing her snout and telling her "no biting", which only makes her snap harder the next time.

 

I've tried a gentle leader collar (our vet's suggestion) to get control of her mouth when she's snapping, but I felt so sorry for her trying to pull it off that I decided it might well do more harm than good. She's only had it on a grand total of 15 minutes two different days, and I don't even know where it is at this point.

 

I've tried redirecting her attention to an item that IS appropriate for her to chew on, whether that's a ball, a kong, or some other toy. Usually she takes the item in her mouth, chews it a couple of times, puts it down, and resumes trying to bite me.

 

I've enrolled her in Puppy Preschool (which brings up a whole separate issue I'll get to in a separate post), and the trainer suggested putting her in "puppy time-out," whether it's a couple of minutes in a room away from me, tying her to a door where she can't run about and play, or putting her in the crate for 30 to 60 seconds. She generally comes out of "time-out" with pretty much the same behavior as when she went in, so I'd have to call this ineffective, as well.

 

I can be sitting on the couch minding my own business, petting her, giving her her food (sit, earn a piece of food, down, earn a piece of food, crate, earn a piece of food, repeated several times before getting the whole bowl) which is not anything new, or just about any other activity that I might engage in, and on any given day, that activity might solicit a bite. I'm trying to look at MY behavior before I decide that Molli possessed or something, but I'm really struggling here because nothing I do seems to change what she does.

 

Before anyone says it, let me just say: Yes, some of you told me not to get a puppy. Yes, you told me to get an older dog from Rescue. No, I didn't listen. No, I'm not sorry for that. I love my puppy. I want my puppy to love me. I stand by the reasons we had for getting a puppy. I want my puppy to be a well-behaved little critter that I'm not afraid to take around other people, and who doesn't have just a ton of bad habits when she gets bigger. Sometimes, though I'm afraid of her. (This is particularly true when she gets in my face, since I never know when she's going to decide to bite.)

 

I'm not giving up on her, I'm not considering sending her to rescue or anything like that. I just want to figure out what I'm doing wrong, and if by some chance it's not ME, I want to figure out what the problem is with HER so I can get her to stop.

 

I've made SUCH modifications to my life/schedule for this puppy. Pre-Molli, I never went to lunch; Now I come home at lunch. Pre-Molli, I worked late nearly every night; Now, I'm out the door as close to 5:00 as I possibly can be (usually by 5:15; 5:30 at the latest, as compared to 7:00 and 8:00 before). I don't go to the grocery store or run other errands after work anymore b/c I want to come home and spend some time with Molli. I don't even fix myself anything for dinner anymore because I feel like I'm being selfish and taking time away from her. (My scale is LOVING me for this, by the way.)

 

I am happy to make these modifications because I want to spend time with her and I want her to be a happy, well-adjusted dog. I make sure I spend time each day (in several small blocks to keep her attention from waning) working on new commands with her) and I am absolutely delighted when she catches on to something new. I am considerably less delighted when she turns me into a chew toy!

 

Can anyone give me some new ideas for dealing with this? I know biting has been addressed in many posts before, and I don't mean to rehash the same topic again, but I've GOT to find something that will work to get this biting behavior under control!

 

As always, thank you!!!

 

Jenni

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have you tried screaming in her face to stop biting you? add in jumping up and down acting like a demon yourself when ever she does it....hey I really don't know, but thats what I'd be doing to try and get it across to Mollie that what she is doing is REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD BAD BAD!!!!!!!

 

Sounds to me like she figures she is the big boss,not you. We had a blue heeler/dauschund cross and we had the same problem...I was terrified he was going to bite my youngish nieces in the face, as he would jump and bite whoever...he bit two neighbour children who wandered into the yard...after the last bite my husband had him put down at the humane society. I talked to just about every trainer I could find, some who told me to do the big hard scruff shake, one who told me do do the yelling screaming in the dogs face thing, which did work when it came to biting me, but no one else...We just could NEVER trust the dog...

 

I went over and over in my mind what we could have done to make the dog that way...and I have never been able to come up with anything. Now we have our BC pup who is almost 6 months now. I didn't do anything different with her that I did with Sparky, but she is so mild tempered and kind..she would never bite or even growl except at maybe a stranger coming to the door unexpectedly. I think some dogs are just milder and some are aggressive, just like people....

 

hopefully someone here has THE answer for you...you have my best wishes...

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Thank you so much for the quick replies! I have not tried a water pistol, but did try a spray bottle. Inititally she didn't like it, but then she got where she'd try to catch the water in her mouth. Miss Molli is quite the little smarty...

 

I'm reasonably certain that while I haven't jumped up and down screaming, that during some of the more painful bites (i.e., the one when I mistakenly -- thankfully -- thought she had ripped my thumb open) that I got in her face and screamed something along the lines of "Bad Dog! Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Dog!"due to the pain! (It's also quite possible I included profanity, although that would have been more for my benefit than for hers. I sometimes find a good cursing helps to dim a bit of the pain!) I also curled up in a ball on the floor and cried out of both pain and sheer frustration. Then, of course, she wanted to head off the mascara tracks that were making their way down my face with her tongue. She also kept circling me and putting her chin on my leg or my arm looking at me like "are you okay?" The tears are a bit dramatic for every snap, so I'm not looking at that as a means to stop her the biting, but I really did do it once! If someone tells me that jumping up and down screaming would work (or worked for them), I'd SO try it at this point. Heck, if someone told me that standing on my head facing east and chanting would work, I'd probably try it! : )

 

The night I got her, I picked her because she was the most mild mannered acting of the females. Admittedly, she was the prettiest, too, in my opinion, but she was totally calm, and I swear she didn't move a muscle in the car on the way home. Didn't wimper or make a sound, either. Thought I'd gotten myself a really sweetie. Not so sure now that I didn't get satan in a black and white fur coat! Lucky for her, she got me hooked that first night, and even though she displays devil-dog behavior, I'm still smitten with her. The biting just HAS to stop!

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A short reply (unlike to your other post, sorry about that one!)

 

With Finn, I wrapped my hand over the top (usually) of his muzzle and pressed his little lips against his teeth and told him "No bites." If he bit down, he was biting his own lips, not me, and he quickly concluded that this game was not as much fun as he'd thought it would be and knocked it off. This also worked a treat with my Westie. If they didn't bite, the pressure was not uncomfortable; it was only if they bit down that it was ouchy, and they were ouching themselves. At first they just inhibited their bite strength, and gradually they learned that "no bites" meant not to start it in the first place.

 

I do have some worries about the "snapping" you describe; if you feel that your trainer can't help you since Molli doesn't display this behavior except at home, you might consider having the trainer come to your house for a consult (I believe some veterinary behaviorists will also do this.)

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AK Dog Doc -- Your post about applying pressure to your dogs' lips so that when they bit they were biting themselves kind of made me smile. I have tried that approach yet, but I have attempted to stick her tail or a paw in her mouth before her jaws snap closed in the hope that she might see just how badly those needle-sharp puppy teeth of hers are. This method has not proved successful for me, but your lip-to-teeth method sounds like it might do more to get her attention. I will give it a try!

 

Thank you!

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How would another dog handle an annoying little puppy that kept biting, even in play?

 

First he would growl and bark a correction.

 

If that didn't work, he'd snap back.

 

And if that didn't work, he'd flip the little darling over on its back and hold its throat in his mouth making damn sure the puppy knew that its life was in his hands before letting up.

 

(By the way, none of these corrections would actually hurt the puppy ... but they would get its attention.)

 

Those are essentially the steps you need to take with this puppy each and every time it snaps at you. You need to find a correction so shocking and so clear that the puppy a.) suddenly starts to think rather than just continuing to play and b.) understands that he is not ever to bite you.

 

It won't work overnight, and you really need to be persistent and not let the puppy's wimpering persuade you that you need to stop.

 

The other crucial thing is that you time it correctly. It doesn't do any good to correct the pup a second after the offense. It has to be while the offense is being committed.

 

What works will be different with every pup, but always try to think about how a dog would handle it. Your puppy is abusing your love of it -- you said she was smart -- and learning that she can play your heart strings and get away with murder. She's already trained you away from the gentle leader, hasn't she? (By the way, I think she was right to do so, but that's not the point ...)

 

The last litter of pups that we raised had a couple of really determined play biters. I did need to flip one of them over a few times until he got the point. The others simply needed a few flicks on the end of the nose.

 

The other critical thing about correcting a puppy is that you make the correction and be done with it. Keep right on playing as long as the play doesn't include biting. Correct the wrong, and leave the right. That means a correction is not a lecture or a scolding. It is very short and sharp, gets its job done, and is over with.

 

Puppy time out serves only as a chance for you to collect your thoughts, or to remove the puppy from a situation where it is overstimulated and wound up. It will not teach the puppy to stop biting you. Similarly, as you've already said, squirt bottles and water pistols just become part of the game to some dogs.

 

Your question is "will nothing sotp the biting?" The answer is yes. You will.

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On the note of Bills post-my friend has a husky puppy that acted the same way. When it snapped at her she would growl, flip him on his back and hold in down. She even went so far as to bite his neck. Only took about a week for the pup to stop the snapping.

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>

 

In a generally excellent post, this is probably the most important part. Never underestimate how much your attitude and outlook affects these dogs! They sense and react to your confidence or lack thereof. If you are feeling helpless, desperate, overwhelmed, resentful or uncertain, this will come through loud and clear to your dog, and she will respond badly to it on several levels. You have to work as hard at feeling and projecting confidence and competence as at anything else you do by way of training.

 

There are many traits humans value that dogs don't. Judicial temperament is bad in a dog trainer. Deliberation is bad. Long-suffering and self-sacrifice are not so hot either. A pup is totally incapable of thinking, "Oh, she loves me and has been so good to me--it's only right that I do as she asks." Do not expect this. Do not blame her for not acting this way. It is beyond her capabilities as a dog.

 

These are the things a dog respects and feels comfortable with:

 

Quick reactions -- You want to shock this pup the instant she gets her biting face on. The faster you act, the less force you have to use to get the "shock and awe" effect.

 

Decisiveness -- Know exactly what you want, and know that you won't tolerate not getting it.

 

Clarity -- Make it easy for her to understand the rules. Don't rely on words--compared to people, dogs are very non-verbal. Give a lot of thought to how you can communicate to her totally without words. Then you can add on a word, but think of it as an add-on.

 

Fearlessness -- If you are afraid of her, she will sense it. You can't let that happen. She is far more likely to bite if you are afraid of her than if you're not.

 

Unemotional-ness -- The thought of whether she loves you or not has no place in dealing with this biting issue. Put it out of your mind. Love will grow from a good relationship. Stopping her from biting you is necessary before you can have a good relationship.

 

What you do is actually less important than how you do it. What Bill suggests should work fine. Another thing you could do -- since this seems to have progressed well beyond the "ouch!" stage -- is to grab the back of her collar (wear heavy gloves if that will help keep you from fearing a bite) and propel her fast to her small crate, shove her in and shut the door. Leave her there, ignoring her, for 20 or 30 minutes. Then matter-of-factly let her out and go back to what you were doing before she started to bite (taking her outside briefly first, perhaps, because of the housebreaking issue). Give her a chance to bite again, which (if she does) will give you a chance to correct it again (not necessarily in the same way -- I would say "Ahhp!" in a warning, reminding way first, and see if she processes that, being ready to shock her with a sudden correction if she doesn't think twice). Think of this as a training opportunity, not a training failure. You can't expect her to be trained by one instance. Very rarely does anyone learn anything--even the hot stove lesson--from one incident. But she will learn it eventually, because she is a dog, and you are her person, and you are smarter and more determined and more motivated than she is, and so you are going to teach it to her.

 

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

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I have to say I agree with Bill. The snapping is scary and should be nipped (so to speak) at the bud. I think all of his advice was excellent.

 

I am agressive by nature and would let Molli know, in no uncertain terms, that snapping is unacceptable. I would also make it clear that I was not playing around and would not accept any back talk from her. Bill is also correct to say discipline her, if necessary, immediately and afterwards move on.

 

I think it is easier for men with low and loud voices. Your husband is in the military, he might be familar with the "command voice". This is a very sharp, crisp tone of voice meant to carry its intent over a distance. It is the tone I would definitely use with Molli.

 

Whatever you do, be consistent. Correct her over and over at every time the behaviour occurs. Never waiver or give in to Molli's cuteness. You might start with a mild correction, but escalate it to whatever level necessary to get the message across.

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

Another thing you could do -- since this seems to have progressed well beyond the "ouch!" stage -- is to grab the back of her collar (wear heavy gloves if that will help keep you from fearing a bite) and propel her fast to her small crate, shove her in and shut the door. Leave her there, ignoring her, for 20 or 30 minutes. Then matter-of-factly let her out and go back to what you were doing before she started to bite (taking her outside briefly first, perhaps, because of the housebreaking issue).

Won't that hinder the crate-training process? If you're using the crate as a punishment instead of a safe haven, won't the dog associate it w/ punishment and therefore not want to be near it? I mean, I know Jenni is already having crate-training problems, but I can't imagine that this would help...just a thought. someone please correct me if I'm wrong. This was just the impression I got from different training pamphlets/books/advice...

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It's good that you don't let on that you think her crinkling her nose in a snarl is cute. It might be cute at this age, but picture this behavior or any objectionable behavior at this age in an adult dog. When you put adult teeth and jaw strength into the equation, not only does it cease to be cute, but becomes downright dangerous.

 

I've had a couple of pups in my house, bc's & one GSD with issues like this. Positives did not really work these these particular dogs either. Ineffective corrections only reinforce the behavior.

 

This is when you turn to a no nonsense method like Bill's.

 

I've turned the tables on these little shits. "if it's my hand you want......."--I would shove my hand in their mouth, down their throats---and keep it there for a few seconds, even though they're struggling. A couple of times of this, you could see them thinking twice before deciding it's not worth it. With these pups, a good part of their handling by me, once we overcame that behavior, would then be around the mouth---handling the lips, gums, teeth. As a rule, this has worked for me. BTW, I wouldn't do this with an adult.

 

If it was my leg they were coming after, a quick grab by the scruff of their necks, off their feet and up into the air, growling something like "shame on you" or whatever words work for you, and putting them into a time out is another method.

 

I would also not give this dog unearned praise or attention. Don't dote over her. No praises---nothing, unless she has earned it. It's hard to do with a pup, but better to get a handle on the situation now than when she's older, adult teeth in, and a lot stronger than she is at this age. Then you have a liability.

 

The GSD pup I referred to was given to me as a 6 mo. old, adult teeth in, and was a holy terror. Her owner had scars up and down her arms. (Her owner was also someone who shouldn't have had that breed of dog)---and created this monster herself. Within the first few days, this dog squared off with me under the dining room table. I flipped the table over to get to her, picked her up by the scruff of her neck and mopped up the kitchen floor with her. She urinated and emptied her anal glands, but never challenged me again and when she went back to her owner, she was a different dog.

 

How are you feeding her? Is she on a schedule or free feed?

 

Vicki

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Gosh you really have your hands full there. My pup 18 weeks was with his brothers until 15 weeks and was used to playing with teeth! I also tried the ouch and cry thing that worked with my previous collies at 7 weeks (no nips after a few days). But with Gil he just doesnt calm down the same and thinks a really good game involves a bit of play biting!

 

I flicked his nose...he wasnt at all impressed but would come back at me with another nip after the intial "Hey! what was that for?"

 

No, No, NO turn away, ignore him..if really excited he would just try and nip my leg..(no curling his lips, or wrinkling his snout, or meaness in it...he just seems a hooligan and is teething too.

 

In the end Id had enough and he is 31 lbs and his new teeth are sharp! So I grabbed the scruff of his neck and rolled him to the floor on his back (gently but firmly) and growled in his face. He turns away and wont give me eye contact and when I let go he grovels and we go back to playing. No hard feelings on either part.

 

If you try this, it sounds like your pup means it! I agree with the person who said wear gloves, if she wriggles and kicks off apply pressure to her chest..until she stops kicking and fighting. I dont agree with trainers who slam dogs on their backs, there is no need to hurt them at all..you can show your strength without hurting her. Use even pressure as you roll her over and the same when you place a hand over her chest. Practise a really deep growl..low and quiet is very threatening and she will know she went too far.

 

Gil has is finally realising thats not the way to play with humans..but it was frustrating for a while.

 

If noones suggestions work, I would find an animal behavourist who specialises in agression. Patricia B Mcconnell who wrote "The other end of the leash" (great book) would have some advice I am sure.

 

She has a web site: Patricia Mconnell

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In regards to the question of using the crate as punishment and it being problematic....

 

Maybe this is just my experience but I have always used the crate for "time outs" with my two dogs. And they both still love their crates.

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Hi Jenni,

You know, after reading a couple of your posts here a thought came to me...Molli might be "feeding off your moods" and that might explain her trying to fight to be the top bitch in the house (no pun intended).

 

Let me explain, and this also might make me sound a little wacko but really I'm not. I swear, Piper picks up on my moods, she is very sensitive to my moods. When my friends dog died, Amilia, I came home just hysterically crying and Piper came right too me and just sat there. Later that night, we were just moping around and she wasn't leaving my side.

 

Also I've noticed this before when I've been upset about stuff and talking to my husband (I don't really argue-I'm much too passive agreesive :eek: but am trying hard to communicate...)Anyways, here's an example, we need to come up with $X,XXX to fix our boat (and you need a boat here in SE Alaska)and so were talking about it last night, obviously upset about finances and Piper picked up on our tones and started doing her little "devil dog act".

 

Anyways, not sure where I'm going with this but this was just my thought about your struggles with Molli and the fact that you might also be worried about your husband too. Everyone here has given you wonderful advice and you sound like a really loving, dedicated mom to Molli and so am sure that things will look up shortly.

 

Oh, try adding a touch on vinegar to the squirt gun...I used this mixture on my cats to stay off the counter and it worked. Molli won't like the taste of that. Oh and what AK Doc did with Finn is what I did once to Piper and she never bit me again.

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I had refrained from using the crate for punishment because of various things I read that said basically that the crate should be a happy place, and should never be used for punishment. I asked the trainer about this after she suggested using the crate for time-out. She indicated it was okay, but said if I was concerned about the anti-crate sentiment I could always put her in another small confined place where she would not have interaction with anyone for a few minutes.

 

I started with confining her to my bathroom. You should have seen me tossing EVERYTHING out of there - toilet paper, gone, scrubing brush, gone, bath mat, gone, decorative towels, gone. Basically anything that could be fun for her was removed.

 

Because I have been working to build a better "relationship" between Molli and her crate, I did not use the crate for several days. However, as her relationship with the crate has improved, I've started confining her in the crate for time outs, and it does not seem to be adversely affecting the progress we've made toward better Molli-Crate relations. Don't get me wrong -- she still doesn't love her crate, however, she knows if she's going to eat, she's going to eat in her crate, and she gets treats when she goes voluntarily. I am still a little unsure about using the crate to punish her, though...

 

By the way, someone asked if she has free access to food or if she is fed on a schedule. She is on a schedule. Additionally, she has to "work" for the first several bites (currently by practicing "sit", "down", "crate", "take it" and "come"), before I let her have the bowl in her crate.

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Oh, and I ordered "The Other End of the Leash" a couple of weeks ago. Two of other Patricia McConnoll books I ordered at the same time have arrived, but that one and one other (the two I REALLY would like to have had first) just shipped on the 13th, so I am still watching for their arrival...

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>

 

I've heard/read that too, deafbat, but in my experience it just doesn't seem to be true. Think of it this way -- if you were confined to your room as a punishment when you were a kid, you probably didn't like the experience, but that wouldn't make you unwilling to go into your room to sort through your collections or to sleep at night, would it? It isn't the room that you'd dislike, it's the deprivation of life outside. I haven't seen any signs that dogs associate their crates with punishment or it becomes the enemy because they were put in there in connection with discipline.

 

Typically, my dogs as puppies go through a stage early on when they don't want to go in their crates because they realize it's an interference with their freedom. Which it is, of course. This provides an excellent opportunity for the dog to start learning the all-important basic lesson that if I tell him to do something, he has to do it whether he wants to or not. Why excellent? Because it's so easy to structure and control. If I make sure the door to the room is shut before I tell him to go in the crate, then there is no way he's going to avoid ending up in the crate in fairly short order. I will probably have to get him and put him in there a few times. Maybe quite a few times. But each time he's learning that when I say to go in the crate, he has to go in the crate. One way or another, the result is going to follow the command, without either coaxing or punishment to dilute the lesson. In a relatively short time, he is going in the crate immediately when I tell him to (or when I even just gesture toward the crate). And it won't be long before he'll be going in on his own at other times too, because dogs generally seem to like being in crates.

 

I should probably say that I think Bill's suggested correction for puppy biting is better than the one I suggested, in general. I'd certainly deal with it his way from the start if it were my pup, with a quick physical correction that surprised the pup and got her thinking, "Uh, oh -- I guess that's a bad thing to do," followed by an immediate resumption of whatever game we'd been playing. But in this particular situation I suggested an alternative for two reasons. First, the behavior has been going on so long that I thought the quickly-made, quickly-over correction might not be enough. Second, and even more important, if Jenni is not able to make the physical correction forcefully and decisively enough, Molli may take it as an escalation of the rough-housing, and bite all the more persistently and aggressively. It sounds as if this is just what's been happening, so she's already in the habit of reacting that way. And of course, that would not be good. So I thought I'd suggest an alternative which Jenni might feel more able to pull off, or even just more comfortable with.

 

I'm a big believer, BTW, that there's no point using a correction method you're not comfortable with, because the dog will sense your ambivalence and that will deprive it of any effectiveness, no matter how well it might work for someone else. So if you have doubts about putting a pup in his crate as a disciplinary measure, that's a good reason for you not to do it.

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Tess is still a nipper (mostly with my husband) and she was always biting and nipping me and none of the positive training suggestions that I got worked, so whenever she used her teeth (she rarely does it anymore with me) I would scream, shout WOOF!!!, go berserk and wave my arms around, and flip her over and pin her (gently) to the ground and growl at her. I only had to do that about 5-6 times and she stopped trying to nip me. I tried EVERYTHING before that and nothing worked. Not the ouches, the ows, the time-outs, the clicker, the "no bite," the closing of her mouth, etc. Tess apparently did not think I really meant business.

 

I used the 2-second rule that I use with my horse--you have 2 seconds to tell them exactly what you think of what they did. After 2 seconds, they have forgotten all about it and moved on to other things.

 

Allie & Tess

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Real quick -

 

first impression from your post - you seem really smitten with her. Torn between the "damn pup stop biting!" and the "ohhhhmygodisn'tsheCUTE!!"

 

I think you need to STOP the "cute" part right now and establish that you are the top bitch and won't take any of her attitdue -EVER. I think she's playing your emotions real well.

 

And, my pup with my 4yr old. I learned from my older dog. If he had enough, he would wrap his WHOLE mouth over the pups mouth - growl a very firm woof/growl (short and very LOUD) and hold the put down for just about 2 seconds. Then walk away and ignore the pup. It worked. Usually the pup sat there with a look of "whaaaatttt????" on her face...took a minute to reflect on what had happened and acted like she had planned the WHOLE thing. (sort of like a cat that has fallen from a counter or something)

 

That is how we took care of her biting. Thus she never got to a stage where she would agressively bite us. She can - sometimes - get too playful and run at us looking for a mouthful of clothing - but if she does, the play stops witha firm no as she's forced to the ground with our hands over her muzzle. She will back off right away. At first she didnt' and we just got bigger and deeper into her face. Firmer and meaner. She got the hint.

 

Now - at a VERY firm "No!" she will crawl to us for reassurance. It's amazing what the cold shoulder will do.

 

You must be firm, you must not take ANY crap - cute or not - or you will be asking for a new home for this pup. Be very persistant with all that you do.

 

The water gun - squirt when the dog doesn't see it coming. At the same time you bark a "No!" Only once! More thant that and the dog expects it and will start to "play" with it. The vinegar is GREAT!!! One squirt of the mixture and our pup is sneezing for 10 minutes. Totally confused about life. Only had to do this 1 time and "whoa to the water bottle god!"

 

Good luck and don't back down! There will be time for cuddles and love when she learns to behave.

 

Denise

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Reading your post about Molli's fear outside the home, and the issue of her biting which you can't control lead me to a bigger picture question.

 

I realize you love Molli, but are you showing that love in a way she understands? If she is that young and feels she must take charge of the relationship (because you aren't - in a way she understands) then it is understandable that she acts so nervous outside the home. She is to young to be the alpha so she gets nervous when she has to face the whole wide world without the usual leadership a young pup would have.

 

Puppies that age don't usually want to be in charge, but if you are not acting as their leader then they are forced to "take point" in the relationship. I don't like comparing dogs to humans because so many people do this without making a clear line between the two species, buuuuuuutt imagine being a three or four year old and having to take on the world by yourself. By not drawing clear lines for Molli about your alpha position, that is what she has to do.

 

So what the heck am I trying to say? I am saying Molli's two behaviors may be much more closely related than you realize. Of course, her fear might be from a lack of being socialized, but it may also be because you are not establishing pack roles in a way that makes it clear to her.

You said in one of your posts that you are afraid of Molli sometimes - how can she see you as her leader when you express fear OF her?

 

The world of pet dogs is much easier to handle than working dogs. Through selective breeding, professional pets have been dumbed-down to something easy to live with. They don't require much work or dog savy to live with. Since BC's have not been "just pets" for very long, JQP hasn't had a chance to breed strains of dumbed-down ones. In case this is still confusing:

JQP sees Rin-Tin-Tin on TV. "Wow, GSD must be the perfect dogs so I have to have one." JQP goes out and buys a GSD. His neighbor buys one, and soon lots of the neighbors have GSD's. Well, those dogs weren't cheap, so JQP will make a few bucks by breeding his dog to his friends dog and sell the pups. Pups are sold to more JQP's. A year later half of them are in the local shelters (read PTS) because they have to much drive to live like local pets. They need jobs. The lower drive pups are bred by their owners to make a few bucks, higher drive pups end up in shelters (PTS), etc. Generations later the GSD has been dumbed-down so JQP can handle the average one in their home. Pick any breed that has become popular and see if you can find the trend.

 

What does all that babble have to do with Molli? Well, if you choose to get a breed that the general public hasn't had a chance to mess up, then you must always be one step ahead of them. It often means changing your life, relearning all you thought you knew about dogs/puppies, and toughing through the hard times while you learn how to handle such breeds. I am not saying "I told you so" 'cause you asked me not to, but I am saying you might need a crash course in "BC's 101" from a decent BC person in your area. We can offer you all the cyber advise in the world but we don't see Molli so we are only getting your view of the situation. Our advise could be way off since we can't see exactly what is going on with you two.

 

I do not mean to sound harsh or attacking, so please don't take it that way. I am trying to show you another possible piece of the puzzle so you can take all these pieces (advice) and see which one might fit best to fill in the big picture. Thing is, my piece places the blame on you and not the dog.Two of my favorite saying to live by: "Our dogs never do something wrong - we have simply failed to teach them properly"

"Never set your puppy up for failure"

 

Off my soapbox and on to agility class.

HKM's Mom

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Something that struck me is the fact that you don't seem to think Molli is really playing when she bites you. A puppy her age who is truly aggressive (regardless of the motivation -- fear, dominance, whatever -- I don't think anyone can say from an online description), rather than just being mouthy or generally inappropriate in play, is not normal. If something in your gut tells you that this is honest aggression rather than just a puppy who needs to learn better manners, I'd get in-person help, pronto. The fact that she is so very, very fearful outside the home also worries me.

 

That said, it is normal for baby puppies to explore the world with their mouths and it is also normal for them to not understand what is appropriate to do in this fashion and what is not. That's what they learn through environmental feedback, from you, from other dogs, etc. One would like to see a puppy Molli's age with better bite inhibition, but if she has not had a chance to learn properly then she won't have it. Jean Donaldson has an excellent section on teaching bite inhibition in her book -- I'd suggest reading it closely. When you have a program to follow I suspect you'll do better.

 

One of the big problems I see in what you've done so far is that you haven't been confident and consistent in your approach to the problem. Very often, training techniques take time to have an effect -- it is rare that results are instantaneous when trying to train a dog out of undesired behaviors. It sounds to me like you have tried things and then discarded them if they didn't work after one or two tries, and it also sounds like you know this isn't a very good approach. So stop.

 

A friend of mine has a new puppy who is about ten weeks old now, and naturally a terrible playbiter -- hands, cuffs, limbs, whatever, he would chomp down on, and hard. She put a small crate in every room (cat carriers) and the second he started with the biting, she would, without comment, pick him up, put him in the crate, and leave the room. He caught on in quick order and no longer acts like a piranha. You could avoid using her own crate as a punishment device, since you are worried about this, by buying a couple of extra crates and putting them in different areas of the house so that when you give Molli a time-out, it isn't in the same place she eats and sleeps.

 

Dogs like consistency, and they like rule structures. Patricia McConnell's pamphlet, How to be the Leader of the Pack, has a great program to follow in this regard. Molli will be more likely to look to you for cues as to appropriate behavior if you make the rules extremely clear to her. This doesn't mean being punitive -- it means being consistent and requiring her to work for everything she wants. She is quite old enough to do this. She works for part of her dinner now -- make her work for the whole thing. If she wants attention, she has to sit first, every single time. If she wants to explore, she has to recall and lie down to earn the privilege. Ask for a down-stay before you let her go out the door for a walk. If you play fetch games, make her comply with a command before EVERY time you throw the ball. Use environmental rewards as well as treats and games -- just make sure you control everything that is good. Establishing a simple rule structure like this is the necessary foundation for any program of training or behavior modification, like the one described in the other pamphlet, The Cautious Canine.

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Right on HKM's mom. All you said and double. No one is picking on Princess Jenni but the blame is not on the dog, but on the human. We need to be in charge. The benign dictator as it were...

Caroline

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I appreciate all of your comments and constructive criticism. The main reason I sought your advice is that I recognize that I am clearly doing SOMETHING wrong, or NOT doing something right, and I'm trying to figure what that is so I can fix it. My first assumption is that MY behavior is the problem, so I am looking there first, rather than declaring Molli a "bad seed." Sometimes when a person is struggling to improve a situation, they overlook things that others can see so clearly, so it's wonderful to have you all to bounce things off of. I've gotten tons of suggestions from other people I know, but b/c they are not familiar with BC's (other than to say, "oh, they're the ones that are so smart, right?" or "Aren't they the ones they use to herd sheep?") I am not so inclined to follow their advice. I want to find an appropriate way to resolve this issue so that Molli and I can move on to bigger and better things, as well as things that are more fun.

 

I am reading the "How to be the Leader of the Pack" pamphlet this morning while I dry my hair (ahhh, multi-tasking, ha!), and will read "The Curious Canine" tonight. Hopefully the other two will come in today or tomorrow so I can read them this weekend.

 

I really, really appreciate everyone's taking the time to respond to my questions, and giving such detailed and well thought-out responses. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

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