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PrincessJenni

Will NOTHING stop the biting?

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To be sure I'm not reading Molli wrong (remember, I've been strictly a cat person for the last decade), can someone please describe the difference in play-biting and biting because they mean it? I've mentioned that I think she means it when she bites, but it IS possible that I'm misreading her. I'm pretty sure she's serious, but the more responses I read, the more I thought I should ask...

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Jenni,

 

First let me say that I very much admire the attitude with which you're approaching this. Even the fact that you continue to seek help here despite some unduly harsh replies, IMO, shows how hard you are trying to do the best for Molli. I hope that we can be of some help. Also, I really enjoy the sense of humor that comes through in your posts.

 

As for how to recognize the difference between play-biting and "biting because they mean it," this is a hard thing to explain, as well as a hard thing for us to do via a description. When pups play like this, it's mock fighting, and so it's going to appear somewhat like real fighting. I've been writing as if the issue is play-biting, because play-biting is far more common in a pup this age, and because I've known lots of first-time pet owners who mistook it for "real" biting, so I know that commonly happens. But it IS certainly possible that it's not, and I agree with Melanie that the extent of her fear at the puppy class is a little worrisome. Some pups are neurologically wired wrong, and none of us can rule this out for your pup sight unseen. But this is far less likely than the alternative.

 

If you could have an experienced dog person observe her, or if you could observe pups of her age tussling, it would help. Failing that, the best you can do is try to observe her closely and try to assess her mood. If she seems happy or expectant when she does this, it's more likely a play bite designed to "get you going." The fact that you describe her as jumping up and down like a jackrabbit trying to bite you makes it sound like play, as well as the fact that when you give her a kong on these occasions she'll give it a few chews and then resume trying to bite you. This doesn't sound like an aggressive frenzy or a fear bite -- it sounds as if she thinks it would be more fun if you'd play with her the way another dog would, and she's trying to get you to do that. When you don't, she tries harder.

 

Maybe the best you can do is to try one of the methods we've suggested, or that you'll read about in the books you've gotten, with confidence and assurance, for at least a week. If it works, you'll know it was play-biting. If not, let's assess it further.

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Did anyone mention 1 pop with a newspaper? I'm new to Border Collies but, I've had dogs over 20 years, and I read along time ago that a pop with a very loosly rolled newspaper works because it doesn't hurt but the sound scares them. My relatives keep hunting dogs that bark all the time and always have. They use shocking collars which doesn't work at all and the dogs bark all the time. All the dogs I have ever owned ONLY barked when they were barking at something and I can knock on my bedroom window when in bed and they know thats enough. I always went outside and popped them once with the newspaper when they were pups and I never had to do it once they learned. My in-laws swear that a pop with a newspaper isn't enough to make a dog quit barking but they are the ones that have to sleep with a fan going even in the winter so they don't have to listen to their dogs bark all night.

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Oh, I didn't even realize that you were from Arkansas too until you posted that! I live close to Heber Springs. I just got my BC last Friday and she is 10 weeks old today. Where did you get yours from??????? We might have gotten the pups from the same people because I understood they had to different litters recently. I bought mine at Pindall, between Harrison and Marshall.

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jec - I was surprised when I noticed you were in AR, so I had to ask where. You are the first Arkansan I've encountered on here! I'm originally from Jonesboro, but have lived in NWA for most of the last eight years or so, excluding a two-year stint in central AR right after I got out of school.

We got Molli from a guy in Clarksville. How did you find your breeder?

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In thinking about your situation & reading the replies to your question, I remembered when you first posted to these boards, when you were considering a pup.

 

And if it wasn't you---my apologies & ignore this entire post.

 

Was it not the breeder of your pup who described border collies as being good guard dogs? That I believe sent a lot of red flags up here on these boards, because the discussion went on that while some border collies might be good watch dogs, they are certainly not good guard dogs. If the breeder's experience with this breed is limited to his own border collies who happen to be "good guard dogs", that might put a slightly different spin on your dilemma.

 

If what he meant by good guard dog is a dog that would nail someone--well I would expect that from my caucasian mountain dog, a GSD, Rottweiler or any other breed bred to guard----but not a border collie. Temperament, good, bad, flaky whatever, is also inherited. That's probably what you're dealing with here and it's probably nothing that you have done wrong, IMO. In fact, it seems that you are trying to do everything right, but you're dealing with genetics here as well, and not just a spoiled brat.

 

The fact that it appears that she was probably not well socialized exacerbates the behavior you are dealing with.

 

If all of the above is the case, and you are committed, then role up your sleeves for the long haul. Temperament can be modified, but the genetics of it cannot and the sort of temperament I suspect, requires a lifetime of work.

 

If the temperament you are experiencing here is because your pup came from a long line of border collie "guard dogs", then it might be a lifelong committment on your part to preventative dog ownership, even more so than the average dog owner---observing her body language, not being able to trust her completely in certain situations, and this might never be the type of dog you can get on the floor and cuddle & wrestle with.

 

Your work with her be might very well be ongoing, perhaps not new challenges but just to maintain the ground that you gain with her. Socialization, socialization, socialization. At times you may find it easier to just leave her to her own devices at home, but don't. With work, you can keep her "issues" at bay, but I suspect they'll always be there to a greater or lesser degree, sort of on the back burner, waiting to resurface, if the opportunity comes up.

 

Nix on the rolled up newspaper theory, especially on this kind of dog. The only thing a rolled up newspaper should be used for is to whack yourself over the head when your dog has done something bad and you realize it's not the dog's fault but yours.

 

Lastly, I don't mean to sound negative. A dog like this can teach you a lot.

 

And I wish you nothing but the best with her. Hang in there.

 

Vicki

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Hmm play biting and real biting. I have only ever seen one young pup who really meant it. Unfortunately it was a pup my sister chose from a litter :rolleyes:

 

She brought him to my house at 7 weeks and we walked him out to go to the toilet. My 12 year old doberman was eating her dinner and he just went for her...snarling, growling, snapping really ferocious..my dog backed away from her dinner for him! I grabbed his scruff and told him no and took him away from it and called my dog back to her dinner.

 

We went back in the house and my ex husbands coffee cup was on the floor, he went to it and my ex said NO..and off he went again snarling and snapping.My ex grabbed the dog the pup drew blood on his wrist! I had never seen a pup behave so badly.

 

She lived a few hrs away from me and I told her to enrol him at puppy class...he bit the instructor who told her not to come to anymore classes! He grew up into a danger with other dogs... eventually she couldnt cope with him and asked me to take him (because he did listen to me to some degree...I did pin him to the ground as an adult for attacking my doberman again!) He knew I wouldnt take his crap! He did however bite my sister on the face and she was way too soft on such a dominant dog..they were not at all well matched!

 

I couldnt take him for fear of what he would do to my dogs ( had 3 bc and my rescue dobie), none of my dogs were dominant and I didnt want them terrorized by him. He bit 2 of the collies too..no injuries I was on him in a flash. (She told me he was playing nicely with other dogs at the park and I gave him a chance with mine, to my regret)

 

But I did find a no kill centre for him and told him of *all* of his problems. They found a home for him on a large farm with no other dogs or kids and he and his new owners got along fine.

 

My sister was heart broken and it is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Because something wasnt wired right with him, it wasnt his fault..he needed an experienced dog handler who wasnt afraid of him and he did get that eventually.

 

There was no mistaking the biting as play biting from day one, he meant it! His eyes were a hard stare and he bared all his teeth like an adult dog going into a fight at 7 weeks!.

 

I truly hope Mollie doesnt mean it, but I am sure you do know if she is menacing. From what you said it sounds to me like she might mean it and it is fear based. In my opinion she really needs a leader...its a stressful life for a dog thinking she has to be the top. Clamp down on her, it really is the kindest thing in the long term.

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Originally posted by sea4th:

 

Nix on the rolled up newspaper theory, especially on this kind of dog. The only thing a rolled up newspaper should be used for is to whack yourself over the head when your dog has done something bad and you realize it's not the dog's fault but yours.

 

 

Vicki [/QB]

Loved this! No offence to the poster who suggested it, but that would freak alot of collies out who are often sound sensitive anyway.

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I'm not a fan of the rolled up paper pop method...My mom adopted a 7 year old beagle a couple of years ago, L.C. pronounced Else, but stood for last chance (my mom's humor). L.C. lived out her years with my mom, fat, happy but cautious because she had been in an abusive situation before. It turned out that whenever she would see a wrapping paper-cardboard roll she would run and hide and be litterally shaking. We had decided that she might have been hit with it in her other house. She also didn't like men with beards and especially if they drove big red trucks (we laughed about it but it was also pretty sad too).

 

So anyways because of that I would never consider that as a form of discipline.

 

Also, Jenni-I thought about your situation last night on my walk with Piper and in our house, my husband is mainly the one that hands out the discipline to her and I'm mainly the playmate-it is funny because if I tell her not to do something or to go lay down if she is in the way she will ignore me but if I say it like I mean it, she'll immediately do what I ask and then also come to me begging for forgiveness and licking my pantleg, shoe, you name it. I've learned that it depends on my tone of voice that will determine what she'll do.

 

I'm not a BC expert, I too had had cats for 8 years prior to getting Piper...that aside, my advice is to establish who is the boss in your house with Molli-let her know that you are the top Bitch!

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Vicki - Yes... sigh.... You're right... That was me... sigh... The one who had to learn the hard way! : ) Although I think what breeder told me was that they were "protective". This didn't alarm me because it was consistent with what I had already read about BCs from a good number or sources. We actually WANTED a dog that would be somewhat protective (and by protective I mean I wanted a dog that would alert to unusual bumps in the night, and that would be somewhat reserved/cautious with strangers, -- watch dog-ish -- which again, is consistent with what I read about BCs). I did NOT want a traditional "guard dog" or a dog that would be big and scary and try to tear a limb off of anything and everything that moved.

 

When I told Mr. Breeder what I was looking for in a dog he made his BCs sound like they fit the bill, and I was thrilled. At this point, I am wondering -- as I suspect you are -- if Mr. Breeder just said what he thought would sell puppies...

 

I will say, though, that she was very sweet to everyone the first few days -- particularly compared to now. I took two friends with me to pick her up and we all handled her without so much as a squeak out of her, and she was pretty okay with my husband, too, although it was obvious that she was a little frightened and/or intimidated by her new surroundings. She pretty much seemed to prefer me to my husband, and would follow me anywhere I went. She still follows me everywhere, for the most part, although soemtimes she stands in front of me and tries to PREVENT me from going anywhere, and she has no qualms about streaking through the house on her own now.

 

There were a couple of issues in the beginning, with the largest one I can recall now being housebreaking, but I think now that the biggest problem there were the unrealistic expectations on my part. I had read so much about how smart and trainable BCs are and how mischievous (and manipulative) they can be, and I was giving her credit for knowledge and a frame of reference that she obviously could not possibly possess at that point. I remember thinking she was being spiteful, which seems totally laughable to me now.

 

This whole biting issue with her has really evolved and taken on a whole new life of its own, despite my best efforts to curtail it. Your point about hardwiring and genetics is part of why I am considering trying to track down the local person who purchased one of Molli's littermates. I am wondering he/she is having similar issues with her pup... I realize the other pup is only ONE of the other pups, and they could be completely different personality-wise (like my sister and me, for instance), so it might not be terribly helpful, but on the other hand, it could be very telling...

 

I know it is going to take lots of work, but I am hopeful that I can I get this figured out and correct this behavior. You're right that it may end up being a constant correction, but if I can just figure out HOW to correct it, that would be something!

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Except for the newspaper (I agree, hit yourself!) advice, everything else here is right on.

 

One other little note for the Princess (who IS trying very hard....good for her!): it may take 500 times for something to sink in. Count! That is a HUGE number! OK, maybe because its a border collie, it might be only 400....but more than a dozen - which would be enough to teach many kids. Consistency, repetition; consistency, repetition. Don't expect overnight miracles.

 

Good luck.

 

diane

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PrincessJenni,

 

I too am very impressed with your attitude and determination. If I ever sound mean or harsh, it's only because (a) I'm writing a dissertation and have forgotten to take my "science writing" hat off and (:rolleyes: I am allergic to smilies and cutesy sayings.

 

It is very difficult to describe the difference between playbiting and real biting. The only thing I can think of is that when I see puppies playbiting, they always look like they aren't thinking about what they're doing, sort of like they can't help it, and like they don't really have much of a purpose in doing it. They mouth your shoe, then your hand, then your elbow, then they bounce around and knock over a floor lamp. True aggression is normally (but not always) preceded by a warning of some sort (growl, snarl, bark) and either a hard or panicked (pupils dilated) stare, although fear bites can sometimes look quite opportunistic. The main thing, though, is that when dogs mean it, they are more likely to cause damage. If Molli is biting you all the time and not causing any damage I doubt she means it. Dogs need to learn the finer nuances of bite inhibition, but they're hard wired with a lot of mouth control anyway (Donaldson has a great discussion about this) and you could say they tend to know what they are doing. That's why they can engage in prolonged bouts of bitey-face games with each other and never cause any damage.

 

No matter what ends up working for you, start McConnell's "leader of the pack" program right away. It will give both of you the structure you need and is the foundation for all the other behavior modification or training programs. It's something you'll keep doing for the rest of her life. I'd be interested to hear your take on this pamphlet and also The Cautious Canine. These two pamphlets outline a program very similar to what I have used with my fearful dog, Solo, with excellent results.

 

I think Vicki's advice is right-on. Even if Molli is not biting you out of aggression, her other fear issues are plenty enough to deal with. Hopefully she will outgrow them -- I know many people who acquired skittish puppies that they successfully socialized into well-adjusted adults. My own dog, in addition to probably being just wired wrong, didn't come to me (and therefore get help) until he was well into adolescence and had already gone through several homes. Even so, he's managed to learn and grow, and does a good impression of normal most days -- even though he isn't normal and probably never will be. I do my best not to put him into certain situations that I know he can't handle, but he lives a pretty normal life, in the middle of the city, doing agility and working sheep (obviously not in the middle of the city) for fun. Vicki is right, dogs like this are a huge responsibility, and sometimes a burden -- but he's taught me more than fifteen normal dogs could have, and our bond is incredibly strong because of all the work we've done together to get him to where he is. He continues to learn and improve every day. I hope that Molli isn't like Solo, but if she is, it doesn't mean she can't be your heart's dog and something very special. Solo is mine.

 

Please keep us updated to Molli's progress.

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The line between play biting and agressive biting is pretty gray, even without wiring problems. If you watch a couple of puppies playing, there are times when one will decide that some line has been crossed, and the play fight will turn to a real fight very quickly.

 

Usually these tussles end pretty quickly because either one puppy asserts dominance or the owner or bitch breaks it up.

 

-----------

 

I agree that the newspaper is not a good idea for several reasons. First, unless you *always* have a properly rolled newspaper close at hand, you won't be able to use it to effect. If the puppy gets away with biting you sometimes, it will continue to bite you. (This is another reason that I don't like squirt guns, or any device other than your hands, your voice, and your brain. I don' t know about you, but I have enough trouble keeping track of those three things, particularly the third one, and I really can't rely on myself to keep a gadget at hand.)

 

Second, with a fearful pup, you might do more harm than good. You don't want to scare her -- you want to get her attention.

 

Third, you want her to respect you, not a rolled up newspaper, squirt gun, or some other gadget. From what you've said, this puppy is smart enough to realize whether or not you can respond in your desired manner and to take advantage of the situation -- in other words, to see that you don't have the newspaper, and to go into Tasmanian Devil mode.

 

I haven't ever read Patricia McConnell's writing, but I have heard her advice on the radio and seen her on television. She's not the person I would go to for herding instruction, but she knows dogs very, very well. Short of getting some expert help locally (which would be the next step I would recommend) I think her books must be pretty good.

 

It's clear that you want to make this work, and understand that you are the one who has to make it work. That's at least 85 percent of the battle, and the part that most people with a problem puppy aren't willing to fight. The last 15 percent will seem hard as well, but it's just a learning curve for both you and the puppy (presuming that there is no wiring issue, but as Eileen rightly points out, that's much less likely than a simple problem with pack dynamics).

 

Just so you know where I am coming from. I have a dog that was poorly socialized and is terribly shy of people. She'll turn five next month. When I first got her at 11 months of age, she was so shy that I couldn't have her off a lead outside because she would run away if any person other than me came within 100 yards of us.

 

Now, nearly four years later, she has a small but growing cadre of people who she trusts (about six are allowed to actually touch her) and when she gets nervous about strangers, she simply backs away and inspects them from a distance of 10 yards or so.

 

These improvements are huge for her, and I think they are directly tied to the confidence that she has built as she has become a working sheepdog.

 

Once you get your pack dynamics sorted out, start working on her confidence. Her confidence will flow from you, so don't take her into situations where you can't be confident for a while. If you need to keep her on a lead to feel confident, do it. You may need to stay at home and present her with new situations in very controlled, limited ways in order for you to feel confident and for her to accept them. (Men in hats comes to mind here.)

 

But perhaps the most important thing you need to do is to get control of your own emotions about this puppy and start handling her in a way that she understands. As has been pointed out over and over, it's your perspective that needs to change. She can't change hers.

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I am having the same problem with Madi as you are with Molli. Have you had a chance to try any of these suggestions? Which ones worked and which ones did not?

 

I have a six year old son who Madi a 3 month old BC is very aggressive towards and we need to stop the biting now.

 

I will try the flip over on the back thing and see how that works

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I will try the flip over on the back thing and see how that works
The "flip over on the back thing" isn't like a recipe in a cookbook. You have to know what you're doing. I would advise seeking the help of someone who knows how to read a dog.

 

Vicki

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If I tried the flip the dog over on its back thing with Piper when she was a puppy, I think she would have needed counseling. I'd try the other suggestions first before doing that method. Piper is an extremely sensitive gal.

 

We never had to resort to that but I know that it does work with other dogs but Piper usually got the message that she was doing something bad, i.e. biting, but just me holding onto her muzzle tightly enough to cause some discomfort and after a couple of times of doing that it seemed to work. I realize after reading through other postings that we were lucky in this regard.

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I did the flip on the back thing with my first pup. It did help with the biting. But let me tell you I would never do it again. It created a whole host of other problems. NOT worth IMO.

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Originally posted by jvw:

I did the flip on the back thing with my first pup. It did help with the biting. But let me tell you I would never do it again. It created a whole host of other problems. NOT worth IMO.

I think that so-called "Alpha roll" is best reserved for very serious infractions. Puppy biting is not what I would call a serious infraction. I think that if you use a harsh method of discpline for a minor problem, you have very little room to move if you need to discipline for a REAL problem.

 

It's kind of like beating the shit out of your 2 year old for throwing oatmeal on the floor. What are you going to do when he's 11 and stealing the neighbor's cars?

 

At the risk of offending whoever posted that piece of advice, I have to say that despite my quick temper, I still have the ability to discriminate between normal puppy behaviour that is pretty easily modified and really bad and / or dangerous behaviour that needs some serious correction. I really don't think flipping a young puppy on its back for doing normal puppy things is good advice to give a novice owner.

 

RDM

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Madi -- i hope things are improving with your puppy. I don't want to sound discouraging, but thus far, nothing has really worked. This week has mostly been about holding her mouth shut, getting into her "personal space" and growling, followed by a sharp NO! I might as well dealing with a silk plant, for all the effect it's having. For the most part, she doesn't even acknowledge that her behavior is being interrupted. She just continues trying to bite when I let her go, so my next move has been to scoop her up as quickly as possible and deposit her in the crate. She's not happy to be going in the crate, but other than that, she's not terribly impressed.

 

The two books I ordered and was waiting to receive did not show up until Wednesday of this week, and are goign to be my weekend reading. I have been trying to implement the program in the Patricial McConnell pamphlet 'How to be the Leader of the Pack.' For the most part, this has been a week of one step forward and two steps back.

 

On a positive note, Molli did MUCH better in class Monday night. She was still skittish and shy, but she was better than she was the previous week. She didn't do so well when we went to practice "sit" and "down", but then we lined up and played a little game where we had to get our dogs to "sit," and later to "down." She followed my commands almost instantly. I was so pleasantly surprised. She also appeared to be making friends with Murphy, the Yorkie standing next to us during the game. He was less sure about Dirty Harry, the Welsh Corgi on our other side, but I was delighted to see her warming up to one of the other pups.

 

When she shows a little progress, I become pretty encouraged. I am working on setting up additional situations where she can see other dogs, people, etc., so that she'll hopefully overcome some of the shyness. Now if I could just win the battle of the bite!

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Originally posted by jvw:

I did the flip on the back thing with my first pup. It did help with the biting. But let me tell you I would never do it again. It created a whole host of other problems. NOT worth IMO.

I really think this tatic totally depends on the dogs disposition and the owners. It's not like slam dunking a basketball, done gently and firmly on a dog with a tough confident attitude my experience it has been VERY effective, creating no problems at all.

 

The important things is NOT to hurt or terrify the dog..so if it is done in temper I can see it having adverse effects.It is dog language, that pups do instinctively understand..when an adult dog reprimands a pup this way he doesnt shake it or slam it against the floor and niether should we. Its a gentle roll and a firm pin..causing no stress.

 

Patricia Mconnel stated in the other end of her leash she pinned her great pyrenesse ? when choosing her as a pup to see how dominant she was. IMO thats not necessary with a BC pup..its pretty obvious watching a litter of pups who is sassy, quiet, shy etc and if people found someone expierenced to help them choose a pup to fit their lifestyle I really think there would be less rescue cases :rolleyes: and if breeders weighed up owners temperaments and needs to their pups rather than allowing people to choose which pup is prettiest.

 

I used the roll/pin/ growl twice on Gil at 18 weeks because he was starting to hurt me and nothing else was working..since then "no bites" is enough to remind him to be gentle, because I do play rough and tumble with him.

 

Everyone he meets remarks on what a wonderful temperament he has and I can guarantee I have not caused him any emotional problems. He is one of the most well balanced Border collies pups I have ever known.

 

I had one BC who was so sensitive that a soft "no" would devastate her, because she lived to please ( I had to give her a love and reassure her she was a good girl, if I ever reprimanded the others infront of her)..Gil is my 4th BC and they are all so different and I would suggest Princess Jenni gets some proffesional help...this really needs sorting out before she is an adult. Without experience of the breed it would be hard to evaluate her for yourself from books and what we all write to you.

 

Is there a Border collie rescue place in your area ? Most rescue places are happy to help novice owners.

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I had one BC who was so sensitive that a soft "no" would devastate her, because she lived to please ( I had to give her a love and reassure her she was a good girl, if I ever reprimanded the others infront of her).
Yep, that is my Piper too. Again, I shudder if we had ever rolled her, because it would have devasted her. When we do say "NO" to her she instantly scampers over for condolences and kisses... I'm watching one of my mom's beagles right now (they're in Hawaii..lucky butts) and she is constantly getting in trouble, but it almost doesn't care because she has the attitude of a cat "yeah, so...what are you going to do about it" and also when we discipline her, we'll look over at Piper and she is down, flat on the ground, ears back looking extremely guilty like she was the one who did it...so our solution is to take Piper out of the room while telling Kanga that beagle that what she did was baaaaaaaaaaad....

 

Thanks for the update on Molli-glad to hear she is making friends at puppy class.

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