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Bite inhibition

July 26th, 2005, 08:51 PM
As some of you may recall, we were having some bite inhibition problems with Odin. Well, when I was working from home, we worked really hard and it was basically no problem anymore. He understood "no bite" which we rarely had to use because he hardly ever tried to nibble on us anymore (he would "corn cob" us...and nibble and give little soft bites). He was doing so well. He was so calm and happy and cuddly, come up and slept on my lap and all.

For those who don't know his history, he is a rescue bulldog, we have had him since February. He has an unknown history (dropped at Toronto Humane Society), and has issues with his eyes (dry eye). He has been through Obedience school, passed with flying colours.

What was also great is we had found some toys and games he liked to do, as in the beginning he seemed to like biting and wrestling with us instead. We had some rope toys and such, and we trained him with "controlled tug o war" (as per our trainer, it's ok to play, as long as he understands "out" and stops, which he does).

So...about a month ago I went back into an office job, and then the problem with his teeth (had string stuck in his teeth, had to stay overnight at vet to fix it). Now he can't play tug o war or play with any toys with "fibres" (at least that is temporary, but we still have to be more carefull now), and he is reverting to wanting to bite and nip more, even more than when we got him. We got him some plastic rings to play with but he doesn't get it. He was doing ok at fetch too, but with the heat, that is out of the question also.

I attribute it mostly to the return to work, as I'm sure he's a little pissed at me about that. THen because we took some of his favorite toys away, and this heat doesn't help because there isn't many places we can take him or much we can do.

What really sucks is he has taken to biting legs and arms when we are standing, which he never used to do. He used to only try and nibble us when we were at his level (arms, face). Tonight while we were walking, he wanted to run a little, so I ran a few metres with him, then he turned around and bit my leg! Nothing bad (didn't break skin or anything) but I bruise really easily so it looks a lot worse that it is.

Would I be right assuming he trying to assert some kind of alpha roll over us because he is home alone more and feels abandoned? We are still being totally alpha boot camp on him. He works for everything, no sitting on his level, we are in control of everything. We are very firm with him, and he doesn't get away with anything. We are making sure to super praise him when he is a good boy, and generally ignore him when he is doing something wrong.

I'm just wondering if there is something I'm missing here that someone might be able to read out of the situation (so I'm basically seeing if there is anything I'm missing here that might help).

I figure with more time and persistance it will get better, just like before, but I am also coming to terms with the fact that he will probably always have a bite inhibition issue that will need constant work, and it's not something that will go away.

We love him to dealth and wouldn't dare getting rid of him, so no worries there. I guess he just caught me by surprise tonight. It rather embarrased me as we were outside and people were around when he nipped me, and I used our command "no bite". Sorta like a reality check.

Anyway..I'm ranting. I am running on sleep deprivation right now with new job and can't get in here much, so I might be day or two before I can get back to read posts.

July 27th, 2005, 05:33 PM
He's not pissed at you for going back to work but he is: bored, lonely, has too much recess time to himself, not enough opportunity for exercise and is under stimulated.
It is hard to read the bite situation without seeing it. Imagine what the situation would have looked like if he had done it to another dog. Was it aggression? i.e. "don't pass me and lead the way" or just enthusiasm gone wrong? He could have been engaging you into more play since the running was already happening he got too stimulated and nailed you. With another dog it wouldn't have left a mark (thicker skin) but with you it did. The grabbing your legs/feet as you are standing there is typically trying to engage you into activity of some sort. It is not meant to be mean but to get your attention (since he feels left out lately), it just happens to be with his mouth. He is desperate for some good games and is willing to take charge to get it.
I don't get the "We are making sure to super praise him when he is a good boy, and generally ignore him when he is doing something wrong.". Why not correct him when he is doing something wrong? Ignoring is great if he is doing something wrong in order to get your attention, but other that he should be corrected. Would you ignore a child who is doing something wrong?
He could do well to go to a doggie day care a few times a week. Great for socialization, exercise and stimulation. The next day he will sleep a lot from sheer exhaustion. Make sure it's a daycare who knows bullies - enough rest and not too much heat.
Instead of string toys can he have soft toys? He might like those better than the hard rubber.

Lucky Rescue
July 28th, 2005, 10:33 AM
I don't have much to add to Tenderfoot's excellent advice, but am also wondering about the "ignoring" thing.

Do you mean you ignore him when he bites you or merely say "no bite"? I know I've said this before, but - although sweet - this is a stubborn, hard headed and powerful dog bred to battle to the death and never give up. I would be correcting him VERY firmly for biting.

For chewing, I would give real bones.

Would you ignore a child who is doing something wrong?
Right - especially if the child was bonking me on the head with a toy or kicking me in the shins.:p

July 28th, 2005, 06:23 PM
Sorry, should have clarified. We ignore the "attention bad behaviour" but correct other bad behaviour. He gets the no bite command and other commands when he does bad things (no bite for nipping, enough for barking).

I agree that he may be understimulated, but he just doesn't seem to get along with toys all that well, or games. And with the heat, we haven't been able to take him anywhere outside. We don't have a yard, so that doesn't help. I would love to be able to take him out in the cooler evenings and let him just run around and have fun, but there is no where we can do that. He is OK at dog parks with bigger dogs, but he chases smaller dogs. If the park was empty later, we would go then, but it's right beside a stream and there are TONS of mosquitoes!

He has soft toys which he will "wrestle" with (take in his mouth and shake around) for about 1 minute, but then drops them. He will do about 3-5 tosses of "fetch" and loose interest. He has a rubber bone he loves to chew, and will chew it for an hour some times, but that's about it.

We tried giving him a real bone but he didn't like it. He sniffed it and then burried it for later. He wouldn't eat it (even after several tries).

And it's not like he is super active when we get home. Most of the time he just sleeps. He will go through an active phase around 9 pm for about an hour.

I wish there was something we could do to capture his attention and really tire him out each night. We can't afford doggy day care unfortunately (can't even afford a dog walker right now) and we don't know anyone else with a dog who he can play with. We give him lots of attention, and brush him nightly, give belly rubs, toss the ball...he just loses interest fast. He is more interested in us humans as toys!!

Oh well...we got to an equilibrium before, we will just have to again. Might take some time.

Lucky Rescue
July 28th, 2005, 07:26 PM
Yes, it's hard to exercise dogs with this summer-long heat wave, and particularly a bulldog.

What about this new toy from Kong? It's on the principle of the Buster Cubes, which my dog likes a lot. I put some "Pounce" cat treats in it, and she'll push and roll it around til she gets them out.

July 29th, 2005, 11:27 AM
Already has one. We got him one of those before we even got him!! He doesn't like it so much. I think there is a peice of cookie in it from months ago that none of us can get out!

he also has a "treat ball", but that doesn't occupy him long either. He played with it for about 30 minutes last night.

He is very food motivated, which is hard because we don't want him to get fat, and for him to play with a toy on his own, food almost always needs to be involved.

I guess I will have to do some looking for something new for him to play with maybe.

July 29th, 2005, 11:39 AM
Raingirl I'm with you on ignoring bad behavior, he does this because he wants your attention and even if it's negative attention, he's the one in control of the situation if he's determining when he gets attention, positive or negative.

You can teach fetch to a dog, it's very useful. Some dogs may not retrieve as naturally as others but it's there in any dog. If you build them up, rile them up every time they grab, they'll grab more (the ball I mean); they will keep upping the game. It's a valuable thing to have a dog that loves to fetch as it's easy to tire them out even if you're too pooped to run them.

July 29th, 2005, 11:40 AM
Play hide and seek in the house if you can't take him out. Dogs usually won't play with a toy for hours at a time, 30 min is good. I had one of my classes playing it last night. The dogs love it. Set up short (15 min) training sessions several times during the day, great for stimulation, teaching who in the house is top dog, reinforce cues.

July 29th, 2005, 11:55 AM
Hiding his meal around the house - ie bits under a chair, behind a plant etc. will put him in hunting mode and entertain him.
He sounds very interactive - would rather play with you than by himself.
Massage could be a great way to give him calm attention and let his muscles get a work out. Imagine how good it feels when someone works on your shoulders when you are all wound up. Deep massage could feel great and give him the one on one he is looking for - while helping him to calm down and relax.

Lucky Rescue
July 29th, 2005, 05:48 PM
Dogs usually won't play with a toy for hours at a time, 30 min is good. I had one of my classes playing it last night. The dogs love it. Set up short (15 min) training sessions several times during the day, great for stimulation

I agree that 30 minutes is good - MY attention span isn't that long these days!:p

I too find that obedience drills are good for stimulation and tiring a dog out.

I also play a game with Chloe on rainy days called "Find it". I put her in a "sit stay" in another room and then hide tiny treats all over the kitchen. I then call her in and tell her to "Find it". She really enjoys hunting for the treats!

July 29th, 2005, 06:48 PM
Yes, teaching a dog to forage for food is great but I would start it off in one room. Around the area where you usually feed. If you make it too difficult in the beginning they may give up too quickly. Play along with them until they catch on. I would also only do it during regular feeding times.