New Puppy Bites Too Much

Young puppies have a lot of energy they need to get out. Satisfy these urges to stop the behavior.

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Q. My husband and I recently adopted a Rottweiler-shepherd mix puppy. He keeps using me as a chew toy – and it’s really getting old.  He is still little -- 8 weeks old -- but I'd really like to get him started from the beginning.

While he's just 13 pounds I can deal with the chewing, but I’m a little worried about when he gets to be my size. For now, when he gets too rambunctious, I wind up bringing him to his crate for a time-out. Please help.

 

A. Though you may feel his rambunctious behavior is “really getting old”, your 8-week-old puppy is still just a baby and his behavior and short attention span are typical for his age. At 8 weeks, your puppy is only marginally old enough to leave his mama and his littermates, but it sounds like you may have adopted him a couple weeks ago (for your patience to already be wearing thin).

If he had stayed with his mama and siblings a few more weeks, he would have been learning, during that time, to inhibit the force of his bite. When pups bite mama or siblings too hard, they’ll either retaliate (in a non-harmful way that mama dogs become very skilled at doing) or they’ll refuse to play and shun the rowdy pup until he calms down a bit.

We can use a time out, as you’ve been doing, to convey the same lesson. But a time out should be quite short (about three to five minutes) with a pup this age or it will be useless. Young pups have short attention spans and after five minutes the pup may not actually remember what he did that earned him the time out.

Sometimes pups get rowdy and bite when they’re hungry. A snack stuffed into a rubber chew toy is a good way to deal with a hungry-rowdy pup. It will both ease his hunger and give him something to keep busy with for a while.

Sometimes the behavior will occur when a pup is tired and needs some quiet time. The rubber food-puzzle toy is good for this, too. Often the pup will chew the toy for a while, then quietly take a nap.

Sometimes biting behavior is a sign that the pup is feeling frustrated. He may want to run, but the leash forces him to walk at the slower speed his handler is walking. He may be eager to explore around him, but the leash keeps him from doing that. He may also be confused about what his handler wants and not understand why the handler is scolding him. When there’s barking along with jumping and nipping, confusion and frustration are the most likely causes.

It’s very good that you’re beginning his education now, as pups this age are like sponges, soaking up all the information about life that comes their way. But you need to readjust your expectations and be willing to learn a bit more patience while he goes through the developmental stages of toddlerhood through adolescence.

It sounds like he’s asking you for more exercise of the play kind. Puppies can learn a lot by playing.

If possible, arrange a play date with the pup’s mama, a littermate, another pup his age, or a gentle adult dog who likes pups and knows how to deal gently but firmly with a rowdy puppy. A chance to play with other dogs will give him an outlet for the kind of play he naturally wants to do, and will help him learn to inhibit the force of his bite.

If there are no other dogs around that could play appropriately with your puppy, you’ll need to give him more age-appropriate exercise. This might involve fetch and gentle, controlled tug games with you.

Also, this would be an excellent time to enroll with your pup in a good puppy class, taught by an instructor who is knowledgeable and experienced with energetic large-breed pups like yours. There your pup will have a chance to socialize and play with other dogs, while learning skills like Sit, Down and Come that build good manners and cooperation.

So, take a deep breath and resolve to find more patience for your puppy, while you fulfill his need for exercise, social interaction with other dogs and people and gently teach him good manners.

 

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Bec&Maya   Edmonton, AB

10/11/2012 10:30:44 AM

This sounds a lot like my puppy girl! She has to be getting frustrated with us and not getting enough interaction with other dogs.

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Leslie - 233329   Lakeside, AZ

10/8/2012 9:31:19 AM

Good points in this article. I have a large breed energetic 6 month old puppy. I try to run and play with her in our yard to get her puppy energy satisfied. It's a lot easier to walk her after the play time. I also play with her again after we get back from our walk.

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Unknown   Unknown, AL

11/23/2011 11:54:17 AM

To that dog, your pup, it's a game.

Check his body language.

Is he stiff legged and staring at you,

Or leaping and
nipping?
He is still a young
pup.
Try training him. Ignore him if he does that, and stop playing, turn around, and don't pay attention until he is calm and not nipping.

If it is true aggression, and you cannot get a professional, I'm sorry.

But most likely, it is not.

It might be a dominace issue, in which case you can try the nothing for free type of training.

(you can google it)

I hope I helped!

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Deloris   Greensboro, NC

3/1/2011 12:33:24 AM

I have a Boxer/Bulldog 8 1/2 puppy who starts to play, then growls and Bites with
aggression.
I'm afraid that i wont be able to control his aggression he will even jump just to bite in the face and i bought the bitter apple spray but he got it as a game,as soon as he tries to bite he will run and hide anywhere because he knows that he will get sprayed and will start to bark and growl.I love my puppy a lot and have bought him toys and treats to reward him for good behavior,he is crate trained for housebreaking which he does good when in his crate but once out in the house he will go anywhere please i don't got money for a trainer they are expensive,I had a full breed boxer before and never encountered these kind of problems with him,he was a fast learner and loving dog.please help with some advice as to what to do to make this dog stop the biting.

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