Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Still having a bit of trouble getting Duke over his ankle nipping...

Colubridz
November 21st, 2006, 12:02 AM
Hey guys,
As I've mentioned in past posts, Duke my 14 week old Rotti/German Shepherd/ Collie mix has begun his puppy obidence classes at a local indoor dog park with great results. Most of the stuff he already knew how to do but I was more interested in it for the socilization aspect which has helped him tons as he only gets to play with to older dogs and is very good with them however is absolutly terrified of puppies his size and gets very aggressive with them, so he has been enrolled in their puppy club program which is pretty much pure socilization/play classes once a week which just focus on reading dog body langauge while playing, and when to step in plus building confidence and teaching puppies how to play. All of my family members have been coming so everyone is finally on the same page and Duke has now mastered all of his basic commands besides down and stay both which he is getting better and better at every day. Also around the house our efforts at asserting ourselfs as pack leaders has helped amazingly as it took him a few weeks or so to get it into his stubborn little head that he wasn't top dog and he know he cannot sleep on the same level as us, knows that we eat before him and that we can eat his food while he's eating ( just stick my hand in or gently pet him) and that any nipping will result in him being gently but firmly grabbed by the collar and front paws lifted off the ground and mouth held firm until he stops resisting and once he complies with the sit command he gets lots of treats and a fun play session.

Almost all of his nipping during play has completely stopped over the last 4 weeks however ankle nipping, especially on walks is still a bit of a problem. I understand that because of the shepherd and collie in him he does have very strong herding instincts and know that is very common for these breeds to display such a behaviour on their humans until they learn better. He used to do it during almost every play session when he got over excited and as you can imagine, with those puppy teeth still in and those strong rotti jaws it hurt quite a bit and I've had a few teachers stare horrified asking if I have family problems at homelol. To correct the behaviour every time he would ankle nip we would do the same thing as when he nipped during play and firmly grab him by the collar off his front paws and as soon as he stopped resisting ask him to sit and the release and praise him like mad which pretty much over the course of a week cut it out almost completely in the house, and now the only time he does it is while were walking for maybe the first 5 mins of the walk he's absolutly insane and then the rest he'll be perfect. I've begun teaching him "by my" and "look" to distract him before the bite happens to teach him how to walk on a lesh and if the bite does occur, use the correction method described above and again over the last 4 weeks I've seen dramatic improvements and it's now only occasional that I need to intervene to save my poor skin while walking him.

I think what I'm doing should eventually root it out as he should just get the point that when he does nip it results in the pack leader putting him into a more submissive position by lifting him off his front paws and grabbing him by the collar where he cannot get his paws on top of mine of bite me and when he behaves well on walks and is "by me" gets lots of tasty treats.

However while at the offlesh indoor park after his training class one of the supervisors came over to tell me

a) that it was going to be impossible to socialize him with other dogs, because I had let it get so bad:frustrated: ( meanwhile I've only had him a month, in which time he has been socialized to everything possible including adult dogs which he plays fine with, and the whole point I wanted to enroll him in puppy classes asap was to ensure he still got alot of good experinces with them before his critical period is over) as she saw him playing with one of the 6 month old black lab that's in his puppy class that he's getting much better with but still occasionally half way through their play he will start nipping at it or snarling. Of course I always step in right away and grab his collar with and say a firm "NO" or "thats enough" and hold him up by the collar off his front paws until he stops resisting and then praised him after for approaching the lab again while sniffing and wagging his tail.

and b) that I was being to gentle and lient with him and instead of grabbing him by the collar and holding him off his front paws and then getting him to sit after he was done struggling and that I should be grabbing his flaps of skin by his mouth and holding him off his front paws by that to make him stop. I already wasn't extremely fond of her and wasn't putting a whole lot of weight into what she was saying as I found her comments on about how I had let my 3 month old puppy's aggressive behaviour, which I didnt even realise exsisted as he plays so well with older dogs ( I guess it's because they put him in his place) that and I'm not sure if I really like the idea of lifting him off by the extra skin. While I want most of his training to be positive reinforcement I'm not above things like chock chains or martengals and so on for some dogs who other lesh training dosent work well but that seemed a little extreme to me and I think my method still clearly demonstrates to him that I'm pack leader and that the temporary discomfort of being off his front feet by his collar ( which I know cant hurt much at all as the throat and neck area are so strong compared to holding a dog up by its gums) plus ive already had good results with it.

So while I'd rather stick to what I've been doing for the ankle nipping and just nipping behaviour in general and not really go to the extreme of having to lift him off his front paws by his gums, I'd like to get some other opinions. I should note the lady was mearly a supervisor for the dog play area and not my instructor at the training class whos style I like much more which is based mainly on positive reinforcement and only mild corrections like what I've been doing. That and do you think if we stick with the training and displaying our dominant positions around the house it will nip the problem in the butt before it can develop. I did tons of research and reading before taking the plunge I guess I'm still a little worried I might be doing something wrong and having the supervisor at the park telling me I was doing it all wrong didn't really help, I love Duke so much and am willing to work on whatever needs to be done with as much consistancy and patience nesicary ( luckily I've had experince training poorly adjusted parrots and learned a ridiculous amount of pain tolerance and patience from them). He's my first puppy and I just want to make sure I do everything right to raise a well adjusted, socialised, trained dog.

Oh one other fun side note, it only took Duke two obidence lessons to learn the "over" for jumps and "through" for enclosed tunnels commands while playing on the agility equipment after his lessons in the offlesh park:). I know he has tons of potential in him as he learns new commands in days and has a huge vocabulary, ranging from "in your bed", "go potty", "wanna go for a walk", "dinner time", "by me", "sit", "down" ( he'll only hold it for about 5 seconds but were working on it), "come", "stay" ( again can only do it for about 5 seconds at the moment but will build, "off", "leave it", "over", "through", "get in the car", "look" and of course, "Duke". Just being my first puppy hearing such negative comments for such an impractical reason really started making me question if I was somehow doing something wrong.


What do you guys think, any things in addition to what i've been doing that I could add to help or any new trick commands that we can try building on top of his fundamental ones, once he has them down in stone to try teaching him as he gets boored so quickly?
Thanks
Kayla

jessi76
November 21st, 2006, 08:29 AM
a common thread through that whole post is "firmly grabbed by the collar and front paws lifted off the ground and mouth held firm until he stops resisting"

I have to say, I whole heartedly disagree w/ this. Personally, I think it's bad practice, could potentially cause damage to your dog, physically and emotionally. I don't see this as creating submission. I see it as creating a potential problem. there may come a day when you need to quickly grab your dog by the collar for his safety, at which point he may think he's being reprimanded. this could result in an unpredictable response, not being able to get hold of him, as he may grow to avoid you when you reach for him.

whenever I grab my dog by the collar it's ALWAYS positive. I say "gotcha!" in a happy tone, and praise/reward him. this way he's never shyed away from me, and I've always been able to grab hold when necessary.

I urge you to think about the long term on this. you may feel it's a justifiable reprimand now, but down the road it could be dangerous. what if someone else tried to grab his collar if needed? he may turn around and bite.

Colubridz
November 21st, 2006, 09:22 PM
While I don't completely agree with what you said, I do agree about the need to associated being touched or grabbed by the collar with good experinces which is why I will ensure when he is behaving well to give him lots of treats while touching or holding his collar. Again I'd like to emphasis I don't rip him up by the collar and it's very gentle. I tried the can/ scare method with pennies in a can however unfortunatly he just thought it was a game and though I use majority postivie reinforcement to reward good behaviour and try to distract the situation before the bite occurs I need some type of correction, a gentle but firm correction to ensure he dosen't think it's acceptable behaviour. I really liked Dr. Stanely's method of standing up and looking away from them when they get excessively nippy especially in games however he kept going at it, excitedly running around thinking it's a game. Holding him off his too front paws via the collar is very similar to how a mother dog would gently grab the pup by the scruff and hold him slightly off the ground to get him to calm down, which is why I originally tried it. Does anyone else have some alternative suggestions however? I also tried a combo of yelping and standing up and ignoring him after he bite me however the yelp just excited him more and after trying it for a week or so consistantly, I realised it wasn't working well for him as he has such a domineering personality and I don't want it to develop or get worse.

I appricate your comments though just curious what you would recomend in light of the above info since you disagree with my current method?

Cheers
Kayla

MyBirdIsEvil
November 21st, 2006, 10:12 PM
Holding him off his too front paws via the collar is very similar to how a mother dog would gently grab the pup by the scruff and hold him slightly off the ground to get him to calm down, which is why I originally tried it. Does anyone else have some alternative suggestions however?

Similar and the same are 2 different things.

If you're holding him up by his collar you're putting pressure on his throat which impedes his breathing and can cause tracheal damage. This does nothing to make him associate what you're doing with the kind of tactics dogs use to get submission out of other dogs.
In general it's a bad idea to use tactics such as choking on ANY dog, and this would especially be true of such a young puppy which is more prone to injury.
Also, holding a dogs mouth shut, stop this behavior IMMEDIATELY. Holding a dogs mouth shut can cause aggression and it can cause them to become aggressive when people put hands near their mouth. In other words it will only make the nipping worse and can actually result in all out biting when he gets older.

If you MUST use submission tactics on your dog when he bites (I personally don't find this necessary), grab him firmly by the scruff off the neck and hold until he backs off (do NOT lift him off the ground). Now you can continue to give him attention. If he continues to bite you, firmly grab the scruff of the neck again and hold. After he backs off repeat giving him attention. If he continues, pick him up so that he's facing away from you, don't say anything, don't give him any attention (don't act disappointed or angry) and carry him to his crate, or an area where he can't get to you and continue his behavior, and allow him to calm down before taking him back out. Make sure he has plenty of toys to chew on in this area so he's not bored and begging to come back to you the whole time.
Don't say anything, don't act angry or disappointed. Do NOT grab hard enough to hurt your dog or make them yelp, the point of it isn't to scare your dog into submission, or cause them enough pain and discomfort so they stop, which is esentially what you are doing when you hold him off his front feet by his collar.

Personally it sounds like you're expecting too much of him too soon. Up until about a year old (sometimes a lot older in many breeds) puppies are EXTREMELY hyper and can be nippy. Just because they don't suddenly stop nipping doesn't mean they're not learning.
Everytime you ignore them for nipping, every time you channel their behavior into appropriate items such as toys, they are learning.
I think the best tactic for dealing with nipping is to channel behavior into appropriate items.
Don't play wrestle with your puppy, this only encourages him to nip.
Don't play chase with him, this only gets him excited and teaches him to chase and nip people.
Don't play games that involves your hands and make your hands or other parts of your body look like fun items.
You want to teach your dog to chase and nip toys not people, so teach him fetch. He'll learn that running after and grabbing his toys is appropriate and fun, running after or nipping people is NOT fun or appropriate. If he won't release the toys at first trade for another toy. Every time he brings back the toy trade for another more exciting toy. You could also give him a treat for releasing, I just don't use treats to train my dogs much.
Fetch also teaches him to run away from you and grab something else when he feels the need to nip, instead of coming towards you and biting.

MyBirdIsEvil
November 21st, 2006, 10:22 PM
Oh and I also meant to mention, it's fairly obvious that you've read a lot about asserting your dominance and showing that you are the pack leader.
Much of the information you've been using is targetted to older dogs and there's no need to use it on a puppy.
Holding a dog up off his front feet by the collar is actually a method called "hanging". Most trainers have abandoned this tactic and only on the most EXTREME cases of aggression in dogs is this method ever used anyway. A 3 month old puppy does NOT need to be treated in that manner.

Any trainer or book that tells you to use those kind of tactics is either suggesting they be used on older aggressive/problem dogs, or the book/trainer has NO idea what they are talking about. There are many inexperienced trainers who will tell you to do things in the wrong situation, which doesn't help your dog.

I have a dog that actually is dominant and none of these tactics really need to be used on her, so there's no reason you should be using such rough training on your puppy.
He's too young to have dominance problems at the level of an older dog, so using training meant for dogs with severe dominance problems is the wrong route.

Colubridz
November 21st, 2006, 10:24 PM
Hmm yes I see your point about how grabbing the mouth probabaly will make him more prone to nipping in the long run. I guess I should of been more clear grabbing him by the collar is a distraction which i immediatly ask him to sit to get his mind of the behaviour and then when he does I release him and we go back to playing, I just find it easier to grab the collar then the scruff but I don't want to hurt him and the intention of the correction was not ment to be as such, or to instill fear or pain to make him listen, on the contrary I strongly believe in positive reinforcement for every aspect of training however didn't want the nipping behaviour to go uncorrected. I'll deffiently switch to the scruff method though when distractions and all else fails.

I wanted to ask about my original question though is the ankle nipping more of a herding behaviour as he only does it when we begin our walk and he notices my feet look fun to play with, at which point i whip out one of his tennis balls for him to play with or just keep the lesh short and away from my ankles. Regardless thanks for you imput, both of you and I realise what I might of been inadvertinly teaching him without meaning to.

Will keep working at it and like you said I dont expect immediate results as obviously he's just a happy little puppy full of energy but wanted to make sure I got off on the right track to start working on making the next 10 plus years togther as enjoyable as possible for both of us.

Cheers
Kayla

MyBirdIsEvil
November 21st, 2006, 10:31 PM
Please reread my 2nd post, I edited and added some information that most people should probably know when reading or listening to training advice. I was a new puppy owner once too, and there's a lot of stuff I did wrong and I didn't know about, so don't feel bad. Sometimes we go looking for advice and inadvertently think that advice applies to younger dogs when it doesn't.

I wanted to ask about my original question though is the ankle nipping more of a herding behaviour as he only does it when we begin our walk and he notices my feet look fun to play with, at which point i whip out one of his tennis balls for him to play with or just keep the lesh short and away from my ankles.

It may be herding instinct or prey instinct. Dogs with high prey instinct will want to attack anything that moves. Teaching fetch often allows them to learn that toys (using seperate toys for fetch would be the best route) are the only thing that should be chased. You can even take a toy with you (such as the tennis ball) and hold it next to you so he pays attention to that and stays away from your ankles.
Young puppies get distracted easily, and a walk is an exciting thing to them which gets them riled up, so that is why when he notices your feet moving he goes after them.
You also may want to try playing with him heavily before you go for a walk (give him time to calm down afterward though) so he won't be so excited and feel the need to chase feet.

jessi76
November 22nd, 2006, 08:23 AM
Does anyone else have some alternative suggestions however? I also tried a combo of yelping and standing up and ignoring him after he bite me however the yelp just excited him more and after trying it for a week or so consistantly, I realised it wasn't working well for him as he has such a domineering personality and I don't want it to develop or get worse.

I appricate your comments though just curious what you would recomend in light of the above info since you disagree with my current method?

thanks for understanding my commments. I don't do the "scruff" thing that a mother dog would do because of this... I'm NOT a dog. believe me, my dog was mr. nippy too! all pups are! I simply got up and left when my dog got too nippy. I really ignored him! I got up, left the room, and went to do other things (laundry, dishes, etc... ) paid no attention to his crazy behavior. if that wasn't enough - I gave my pup a "time out" in his crate. scooped him up, didn't say a word, popped him in the crate, 2-3 min MAX, just enough for him to calm it down a notch or 2. let him out, fogive & forget, and focus on a toy!

pups learn when you're consistant. if you are consistant about denying attention when he's nippy, he will learn. as my dog grew, I incorporated a command "NO BITE" - said in a stern tone. not yelling, just stern.

MyBirdisEvil gave you alot of good tips!

Another good resource on this forum is Tenderfoot. look up her posts - it's a wealth of information on training & correction techniques.