How old to alpha train?

Posted by AbroadWithPuppy
Mar 25, 2008

I recently have adopted a four month old puppy (a little mutt that was orphaned and brought to me starving in a box) who has a SERIOUS problem with her nipping/biting. She bites hard and constantly at my ankles, jumps up and bites me and my face as well if she comes upon me napping and can break skin. It is starting to scare me how she is play biting because her mouth can be snarled back to show her teeth. I know I have an alpha issue but am wondering if four months is two young to be to worried or start serious obedience interventions and to do the alpha training in the book:eek I’m also wondering if there could be a more serious problem…I currently work for a non profit in Africa where she was brought to me from the village at two months…starving without food for two days and even scars from worms living in her skin so she was living in horrible conditions.

Please help! My dog is a really great addition to my life: she is clever and a great and needed companion… I have the time to train her correctly and the desire, but seem to be falling short of being a good dog parent. Any advice or support would be appreciated!
Posted by Blue
Mar 25, 2008
No age is too young to start alpha training - the sooner you start with dominant dog or puppy, the sooner you are leader and the faster potential problems are avoided
Puppies are prone to testing boundaries and pushing limits - including with biting.

*Get you or someone to sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If the puppy bites both you and your guest should growl sharply, say "AAHH" rather then "NO", and do not yell it, growl it; make it quite guttural (even if this gives you a sore throat).

*Hold out their 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.

*Hold out their hand again, and by then your puppy should be wary of their hand (be aware that the hand biting behavior is probably a habit by now).

*Any time during a play session if the puppy nips or mouths you, reprimand and end the play session by standing up or walking away.

*When the puppy goes for your ankles, don't laugh or run away, turn to face her - even move towards her, reprimand and ignore her for 5-10 minutes.

You should also be giving her plenty of exercise and obedience training, the sooner she learns sit and down, you will be able to redirect her bad behaviour with a 'sit' and reward her for good behaviour!

Always reward calm behaviour/non biting behaviour with ample praise and a treat or two if it was really good!

Hope this helps, definitely follow all advice in the sitstayfetch books - obedience/alpha routines you should follow etc. With sitstayfetch and a young puppy you should be well on your way to a well behaved dog

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Mar 25, 2008
Hi AbroadWithPuppy!

I want to thank you for rescuing the starving dog. I am sure she will be a wonderful companion with appropriate trainings.

In addition to what Blue suggested, I wonder if your puppy has any doggie friends that she can play with? It is very natural that dogs use mouth to play or invite to play so I think it will be nice if she can play with other doggies too. It will be a wonderful training for her to learn how to interact with other dogs and socialize in the dogs world. She will also learn how hard she can bite other dogs because she will know it hurts when other dogs bite her too hard.

However, I don't think she should bite any people. Even play biting is not acceptable as far as I am concerned. She will soon learn the difference of doggie play and human play if you are consistant and firm about the rules you want to set.

Good luck!!