Biting puppy

Posted by
Sep 20, 2007
Our new addition is a (now) 16 week old Siberian Husky, which we got at the age of 8 weeks. We've previously owned 5 other huskies (one at a time), so we're familiar with the breed.

This pup, though, is different. He "bites" on the entire family. The weird thing is that he has no food aggression, he walks on the leash with no problems, and he is gentle right after he wakes up and right before he goes to sleep. HOWEVER, when he's "up", he tends to bite or nip at any of the family.

We've tried just about everything: time outs in the crate; holding his snout closed and saying "no!"; lightly pinching the inside of his mouth (the vet said to try this); making a "yelping" sound when he bites; and even making loud noises with the "rocks in the can" or smacking a rolled-up newspaper in our hand. The "noise" treatments make him jump back for a few seconds, then he's at it again. The other methods appear to have no deterrent effect at all.

We've never had a pup do this before. And, I might add, he is as friendly as can be with other humans, other dogs, etc. -- no aggressive tendencies at all.

This is obviously something we need to correct now. ANY suggestions appreciated!! Thanks.....
Posted by Emma
Oct 7, 2007
Hi there

The first and most important thing that you need to do is ensure that you are alpha to your puppy. Your puppy has to respect you before he will follow your commands.

First of all, I would encourage you, and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of weeks.

If you treat your dog as an equal it may well see it as an opportunity to challenge your position. For example, be aware that allowing your dog onto the couch, bed, etc will give it the leeway that it needs to be able to challenge your position as the alpha dog in the relationship. This behavior change may occur quite gradually, without you even noticing it, until your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies when you try to move it!

Adolescent Dog

Most dogs go through an adolescent period when they reach 6 months old and this usually lasts until they are 14 months of age. However, the exact age of adolescence does vary between breeds and individual dogs. Be aware that this adolescent period can be characterized by behavior changes in your dog.

Reprimanding Method

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dog’s poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

Techniques to reinforce your status as alpha dog

If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilage of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.

Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go. Note that this technique doesn't apply when house breaking.

When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands.

Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?

It is really important that when you are trying to train a puppy that you are really really consistent. By this I mean decide what you want from your dog and ensure that you follow the commands every single time so there is no confusion with your puppy about what is expected from him. It may take some time to understand and follow what you are wanting from him but over time with consistency he will get it.

There are several techniques that can be used to put a stop to biting, nipping and mouthing. Some of the best ones are outlined in the section "Biting and Nipping" in SitStayFetch. However if you have limited success with these techniques then a more forceful method may be required.

You have to let your puppy know that its biting is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by demonstrating yourself as the alpha dog by growling menacingly, the way an alpha dog would.

Sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If the puppy bites growl sharply, say "AAHH" rather then "NO", and do not yell it, growl it; make it quite gutteral (even if this gives you a sore throat).
Hold out your hand again, and if your puppy goes to bite it again, growl again but stand up suddenly at the same time. Walk away for a few minutes.
Then come back and sit down to play again, hold out your hand once more. If the puppy goes to bite for a third time be ready for it and give the puppy a little thump on the nose and growl once more (thump hard enough for the puppy to actually feel it) with the hand you are holding out. Generally, I do not recommend you hit your puppy, however, in your particular case this may be the only thing that will get the message across.
Hold out your hand again, and by then your puppy should be wary of your hand (be aware that the hand biting behavior is probably a habit by now).
That should do the trick.

Be sure not to let any visitors or strangers encourage the hand biting. I have found that many people think a puppy biting hands is cute because it does not hurt. And they are rewarding the puppy for biting, this is neither fair to the puppy or the owner who has to deal with a puppy who, grows bigger and stronger every day, and bites.

A word of warning: Be careful with young children practicing this kind of behavior modification. A child's first reaction to being bitten is to push the puppy away with their hands. Your puppy is likely to interpret that action as being play, which in turn causes the puppy to nip more.

I hope that these suggestions will help you.