Out of control Puppy

Posted by Kai
Jan 3, 2008
I adopted a 3 month old mixed breed puppy from our local vet and what seemed a wonderful thing at the time is turning into a nightmare! I grew up with dogs and love them to bits, but I'm exhausted after only 2 weeks of having her. It is impossible to play with her for even a few seconds as she only wants to bite. My hands, clothes, shoes, legs, anything she can latch onto. I've tried so many things, toys, water spray, bitter apple, treats, nothing seem to get her to stop. She eats everything she can get her mouth to and refuse to let it go. Just now I watched her drag everything out of her cage: toys, blanket, pillow, newspapers. I know it's something I'm not doing right and will take any advice at this point. I've bought the sitstayfetch program and are following the advice, but it doesn't seem to work. I do work long hours, but she never stays in her cage for longer than 4 hours as I come home lunch time to feed her and try to play with her and we're usually home by 4 pm. It's gotten to the point where the only place we can put her to contol the biting is in the cage. I've been told she can't go outside yet as she hasn't had all her shots yet, so she has to be in the apartment all the time. I really want to keep her, but I don't want her to be like this either. I really hope someone can help me as I am defeated and very discouraged at this point.
Posted by Todd
Jan 3, 2008
Hi there
Thank you for your question.

I know from personal experience that puppies can be very hard work and very frustrating. At times it can seem as if you are going nowhere if not backwards. But trust me when i say that your puppy will be learning, and that she is a puppy.

I am very glad you asked for advice as changing their behaviour is much easier at an early age, and you are much more likely to succeed
What i think you should do if it is at all possible is to take some time off work, this will make things a whole lot easier. I know this may be too hard so try and get a monday or a friday off to give yourself 3 solid days with her.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort. Being the alpha is THE MOST important training aid you can have.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-
1) If you come across your dog while she 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.
2) 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.
3) At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.
4) Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.
5) Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.
6) Whenever your dog wants attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.
7) 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.

Now im going to give you advice about nipping at your hands and clothes as this is usually the easiest thing to deal with and will give you the confidence and experience to deal with the other issues.
It sounds as if your puppy has gone straight past all the usual ways to treat this so lets start a bit further on. This is the advice i give as a quicker fix and is mentioned in other posts.


*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 gutteral (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).

Your puppy sounds a little confident so you may have to make the thump a little harder, but not so hard as to hurt her. You just want to get her attention back to you and tell her NO.
This method won't work the first time, it requires time and effort.

You can use this method for any sort of chewing, nipping etc as the principle is the same. Reprimand and reward.

Some important points in curbing chewing!

1. You will have to spend quite a lot of time doing corrective training with your dog.

2. You will need to reprimand your dog effectively when you can catch it chewing (or performing any other destructive behavior)

3. You will also have to restrict your dogs access to chewable things when you are not around to control it. The cage is brilliant for this. You may have to remove some of the things from the cage. This may make things a bit messier but until she has learnt it may be required. When you are home she can have her blanket etc but when you leave take them away if possible.

There are 2 basic ways to stop chewing when you are around.

Reprimand Technique

*Spend some time every day, quietly following her, so that she believes she is alone and free to do as she pleases. The aim being that you want to catch her in the act!

*Startle and reprimand her as soon as she starts to chew on something. The best way to do this is by shaking a can (like a soda can) of pebbles, and barge in growling menacingly. She will (if the startle has been performed correctly) slink away, tail between her legs, or roll onto its back submissively. Make sure the growl is a harsh guttural growl like "AAHH!" rather then "NO!" as this makes a sharper noise.

* Give your dog time out in another room or an area where there is nothing for it to chew.

Aversive Substance Technique

Use an aversive substance to make the taste of the object unpleasant for your dog. The best way is to restrict your dogs access to the object (if that is possible) and only let it have access after you have used one of the following substances sprayed or applied to the object to deter her from playing with it.

*Bitter Apple or a similar spray available from your vet or pet store,
*Cayenne pepper,
*Aloe vera gel,
*A hot Tabasco sauce or similar.

At the moment the bad taste method seems to not be working but stay with it and you may find she eventually gets sick of it. Most importantly try and play games with her (but not tug of war games) as the less energy she has the better. Play should always be on your terms, your the boss not her!
Also i would encourage you to have a number of chew toys that you can direct her to after you have reprimanded her for chewing.
Please don't despair as she will be a lovely dog, just give her time and patience. Good luck and please let me know how things go with her

Kind Regards
Todd Field
Posted by Kai
Jan 4, 2008
Thank you so much for replying so quickly to my message. I was very low last night, but after reading your post, I feel it is possible to keep trying. I really want to make this work and have her become a wonderful part of our family. I'm reading Alpha Dog again and have tried some of the ideas already today. It could be my imagination, but I think she was calmer tonight than last night and responded a little better. I have been able to teach her "sit" over the last 2 weeks and she does that pretty much when I say it. I reward her with a little treat, so it could be she's expecting that and is using it? I'm also very strict with the sit and stay so that I can enter rooms before her and that seems to be working so far. She also has to sit and wait for me to put her food down and it is possible for me to put my hand in the bowl while she is eating without her biting or growling at me. I hope these are possitive signs and if they are, I would love to here from you.
Posted by Todd
Jan 4, 2008
This all sounds brilliant, see she isn't as bad as you thought
As for the food rewards they only work as a training method if you slowly increase the interval you use them at. Slowly start rewarding her every second time she does it, then slowly go longer and longer. This is the only way to properly train and reinforce.
Things sound great, keep up the good work.

Kind Regards
Todd Field