- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


need help understanding odd behaviour

April 24th, 2005, 07:29 PM
We were told when we got Odin that he likes to suck on your fingers. Fine, no problem.

Well.. we don't like it, as he tends to nip and try and bite us to get us to let him suck on our fingers.

Today he has been a total devil dog, because it's been raining for three days and I've been sick so he hasn't had any long walks, just short ones. He is jumping and biting and nipping at us (he doesn't bite down enough to cause a bruise, he just grabs on), and as soon as he gets a finger or hand in his mouth he just suckles it. It's kinda cute and I'm wondering if it's a comforting thing for him, and maybe we shouldn't stop it?

We've had him for three months and used several methods (the "ouch" yelp and ignore, some things tenderfoot suggested, and even resulted to spraying ourselves with vinegar to stop him from liking to chew on us) for teaching him not to bite/nip/chew us (including the hand suckling) and we have consistently used the word "relax" but nothing seems to be working. Giving him a time out works for a short time, but then he does it again, and I don't think constant time outs will work. We want him to understand not to start, and not have to stop him once he starts. Using the vinegar on us works, but he sulks around and looks so sad and doesn't come near us for a bit after we do it (heck, I wouldn't if I could smell the vinegar, but since I'm sick, I don't smell it).

We really want to be able to have kids in a few years, and are really trying, but we are at a loss....

He has lots of toys and things to chew on, but he never takes a toy when we offer it in a trade.

He tends to start this when he gets close to us, then licks us, then jumps on us and starts to nibble at our arms, face, chest, and if we stand up, he will try and nip our legs. Because he has an underbite, he isn't that effective at the biting actually, which is nice, but it's annoying because I'm feeling like I can't relax at all (I can't sit on the couch, lay down, sit on the floor) and I have to stand all the time, as that is the only time he won't start to do it, but if we stand and he stops, as soon as we sit down, he starts again.

Sorry...I'm ranting...I'm just feeling like crap today (I'm sick and the rain gives me headaches) and his devil dog stuff is really getting to me today, when all I want to do is lay down on the couch and watch TV. I can't lay down because I can't trust him not to jump and bite my face....and I don't have the energy to correct him tonight by standing up each time he is bad.

Lucky Rescue
April 24th, 2005, 09:40 PM
You really need to stop this stuff. You seem to be using the kind of methods you would use on a little puppy and it's not going to work for this big bull headed bulldog!:p

I'm afraid you're going to have be VERY firm with him and let him in know in no uncertain terms that you are NOT going to tolerate this anymore. You certainly can't stand all the time for fear your face will be bitten!

Put his leash on and then do whatever you please. Any jumping, nipping, biting etc. gets him a real correction and and a loud "NO BITE!!!!" Put him in a down and stand on the leash if you have to.

Bulldogs have one track minds and Odin is doing what he wants and totally ignoring your requests and disrespecting you, so turn the requests into demands and "out bulldog" him. Pretend you're a drill instructor.;)

April 25th, 2005, 08:26 AM
Maybe lots more excercise and a good obedience class would also help.Find someone who uses lots of positive reinforcement and you feel comfortable with thier methods and them.It's never a good idea to allow a puppy to do things you don't want an adult to do,dogs usually don't understand why it was acceptable when they were little to use you as a chew toy but not at 80 lbs.Things will get better,with a bit of work even devil dogs can be sweethearts.Also don't work with your dog when you are in a vile mood,they pick up on it and nothing will go right.Remember they aren't puppies long enough!

April 25th, 2005, 09:19 AM
He usually does get more exercise, but I was sick since Thursday, as was my BF, and it's been pouring here, and our dog doesn't like the rain, so he won't go out for a walk. He goes out, does his business, then wants back in. In the house I have been trying to play with him to tire him out, but he hasn't been interested. He is already in obedience school, and he's not a puppy. He's a 1.5 year old bulldog from a rescue.

Lucky, I'm having trouble understanding how the leash in the house would work, as it would be the same thing as we are doing now. If he bites, we get up, say "relax" loudly and firmly, ask him to sit, and when he does, we wait a few seconds for him to calm down, and we praise him. I don't understand a "real correction", should we jerk the leash? Should I have him tied to me all day?? (I'm working from home right now). He usually only does it at night when both my BF and I are home, and are in the same room. Could it be a jealousy thing? As he tends to stop when we are separated (not always, but sometimes. Sometimes he does it to me when I am home alone with him, or to my BF when he is alone with him as well). It's almost like he wants to show affection to us, but doesn't know how. I don't mind him licking us, but after a few licks, he starts to nibble. Why do you think he does it. Sometimes he and I are sitting on the floor and I am brushing him. Then he will turn around and lick my arm, then he starts to nibble. It's not a bite so much, but it's like when you see dogs dig for fleas, and they have their teeth close together, it's like that on us. I was wondering if he is trying to groom me. Once he starts the nibbling, I stand up and tell him relax, but that's when he gets all devil dog like, as I think he wants to play, so he tries to bite me...

I'm so's like he wants to do something good, and he gets so sulky when we stop.

Lucky Rescue
April 25th, 2005, 10:45 AM
It's not a bite so much, but it's like when you see dogs dig for fleas, and they have their teeth close together,

We call that "corn cobbing" and many dogs do it. Some people don't mind it, as long as it doesn't progress to biting.

There's no way of knowing why your dog does these things, since you don't know his history. Could be lack of socialization, taken from mom too soon, or just the product of very crappy breeding.

Not having enough exercise for a few days is no excuse for this behavior (biting, "devil dog")

He is already in obedience school, and he's not a puppy.
Exactly, so there is really no excuse for his actions. Having his leash trailing will make it easier to control him without touching him and exciting him further.

If you do not take charge and let him know you mean business, then he'll take charge. You have to toughen up. He's got to learn he can't win. This is a breed that will take a mile if you give them an inch.

I'm really afraid if you don't stop this now, it could get ugly down the road.

April 25th, 2005, 12:33 PM
Hello raingirl

I was reading this thread and the one about the puppy misbehaving (not yours but you commented that Odin chews on your shoes in front of you) I have to agree with Lucky, Odin needs to know his place in the home. I think he's got you all smitten and he thinks he's the king of the household :)

Have you tried the Alpha Bootcamp? Maybe something like that would help? In my adult life, I've had a pit, a rottie and a lab... All lovely great dogs, all stubborn as heck! I learned quickly that you have to be in charge - one of my friends actually bought me an "alpha *itch" t-shirt :) Otherwise they are. And it's in the little things that you show your place at the top of the pack. And theirs at the bottom. I haven't read all your posts about Odin but does he have to work for everything? He really should. That's part of his job as a dog in your house. Want attention? Want food? Want to go out? Work, work, work. And I would start with a lot of "downs". A lot. I think it's Brian Kilcommons that actually calls it "doggy push-ups" :)

Anyways, just my opinion.


April 25th, 2005, 01:42 PM
Oh Yeah, he works for everything. He has two more weeks in obedience school. We have been making him work for everything since we got him. He has to work for food, treats, door openings, toys, games, everything.

The shoe thing, that's new just this week. Don't know where it came from! I think he is just trying to chew new things (other than his toys) because we finally found something that stops him from chewing (vinegar). All the things he tried to chew before (books, chairs, etc) he doesn't anymore, so the shoes were new. Unfortunately, I'm not willing to spray vinegar on leather, so we put all our shoes away. He learned how to open the closet though, so when I get paid this week, we are going to get a child lock for the closet. He has a lot of toys, but totally ignores them. We even put them away, so he doesn't just get used to seeing them around, but we bring it out, he looks at it, and then goes back to chewing something he shouldn't. At least the vinegar works on most surfaces!

Maybe I'm overreacting about the nibbling thing. If I just stay calm and let him do it, he just stops after a few seconds, but if I try and stop him, he gets all worked up and excited and wants to play and bite. And he almost always starts to nibble us after we have groomed him. And he only starts it if we are sitting on a chair or the floor (which makes it hard to correct him, because we have to stand up first).

We are always firm with him. That's why i figured out it would have stopped by now. We have worked on most of his other issues, and at least they showed improvement, but this one just is at a standstill.

Should we just stop sitting on the floor, and not letting him on the couch or on our laps?? Because it only happens when one of those two things are happening. He must sit before he is allowed on the couch. I've been correcting him (not using "no bite" but "relax") multiple times a day sometimes, but it doesn't get through to him. After he tries to bite, I get up, say relax very firmly, wait a few seconds, and praise him for just relaxing for a few seconds. Then I go to sit down and he does it again, and again, and again. Eventually he gets a timeout behind the babygate in the hall away from us, and he doesn't whine or anything, he just looks at us for a few minutes, then lays down and sleeps usually. After that he is ok most of the time (he's worse at night, so we usually just walk him if he is being a butthead, and then it's off to bed).

the problem is I can't correct him from where he is when he does it. He's usually climbing on me or on my lap when it happens. I was hoping he would understand relax by now at that stage, so he would stop when on me, but he doesn't. I don't think he is linking the two because we have to get up and get him to sit first, so he doesn't understand the connection. How can I correct him with a leash on my lap?

(I also notice it happens more when my BF is home, as I don't think he's firm enough with Odin. Odin tries to challange me for Alpha, but I don't let my guard down, whereas my BF does...)

Lucky Rescue
April 25th, 2005, 02:59 PM
Think about what a bulldog was bred to do. Face an adversary as dangerous and powerful as a bull, and not only not give up, but win! If you think of that, you'll know why your "relax" is not going to work.;)

You should not have to cover your house in vinegar or be afraid to sit down for fear of bites.

If I just stay calm and let him do it, he just stops after a few seconds, but if I try and stop him, he gets all worked up and excited and wants to play and bite.
What do you do then?

This situation may seem annoying, but it can become dangerous. Get a prong collar. Put it on him. He tries to "bulldoze" you or bite, give it a yank. He has to know this will NEVER be tolerated and that you make the rules.

I know many people will not agree with this, but we are discussing a powerful and determined dog who was bred to be a gladiator and who WILL ride roughshod over you if allowed to.

I would never suggest this if Odin were a 4 month old puppy, but he is not. He is a 1 1/2 year old dog who is treating you like an inferior and you need to stop this now.

April 25th, 2005, 04:26 PM
If I just stay calm and let him do it, he just stops after a few seconds, but if I try and stop him, he gets all worked up and excited and wants to play and bite. This is the behaviour of a dog who believes he's in charge.

Should we just stop sitting on the floor, and not letting him on the couch or on our laps?? Absolutely! No lap, no climbing on you, no couch, no bed, no going through the door ahead of you... Only when his behaviour has changed will he be allowed back on. And only if he is perfect. As for the sitting on the floor: do you do it to be near him or were you doing it even before he joined your family? If it's for him, stop it. You are at his height, you are his equal. If you just like sitting on the floor (I know I do), then I would still suggest you stop for now. Eventually, when he's better, you should try it again but be ready to correct immediately if he misbehaves.


April 25th, 2005, 05:03 PM
This may not work in your situation, but I've found that the best way to get my dog to back off and give me some space, is to growl at him.

I can shove him and say 'get', 'move', 'go away', 'quit it' or anything in my most pissed off voice, and he thinks everything's playtime. But when I growl at him, he immedietly stops whatever he's doing and backs away about a foot, looking at me a little worried. I'm just tapping in to what he already understands.

Just pretend you're another dog guarding food. Immedielty go stock still and try to curve your neck to glare down at Odin. And then just kinda open your throat and rumble as low down as you can go, you don't even have to open your mouth really.

I rarely do this (usually now only if he's getting too close to my dinner) and I caution you not to overuse it, or Odin may realize you don't really mean it.