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At wit's end, advice please

December 28th, 2007, 02:44 PM
Hi folks, I'm having some trouble with my 4 month old malamute/lab pup (Sola). For a while when she was younger she had a biting/growling problem which we tried endlessly to correct with good reinforcement and a multitude of advice we found on this and other reputable sites and in books (e.g. shouting OUCH, NO BITE, ignoring puppy on one side of a puppy gate until she would play nicely, etc.). I really felt that we were making some progress. I think she was taken too early from her mother but I suppose there's nothing much that can be done about that at this point.

The behaviour basically starts as play, she appears to want to be petted or have some attention. Then she starts to growl and bite pant legs, forearms, sweaters, socks, ankles, etc. When I say NO BITE loudly, she barks at me (or my husband) and keeps going, sometimes more aggressively than before. She'll keep doing this until we just walk away. We have tried also to distract her by using commands (sit, down) and replacing with toys, and DH has tried to hold her down (not quite an alpha roll, just trying to get her to calm down).

Other than these "temper tantrums" she is overall a good dog- she is friendly with other dogs in her puppy class and on walks, and also with children and strangers. She obeys some commands we've taught her (sit, down, come). She appears to be teething-- could that be the source of the problem? I am worried that we aren't correcting her properly (although we seem to have followed a ton of advice already). How can we show her that she is not the alpha in our home?

Can anyone help? I am pretty frustrated and need some reassurance or advice...

December 28th, 2007, 03:53 PM
Teething could definitely be the source of your current problem with Sola...our pups were transformed into Demon Puppies from Hades when they began to teethe. Unfortunately, teething seems to go hand-in-hand with the barking...does it sound like a temper tantrum? :D I remember that... And all that energy! :eek: Yep...Demon Puppy

The trick is to remain consistent with what you were doing before, and step up on distractions and redirections because you'll have to accept that a teething puppy is not always going to be able to resist your succulent and oh-so-satisfyingly-chewy hands, arms, etc. :D

We found some chew toys that were meant to be frozen--the cold seems to soothe their gums and keeps them chewing longer. Also, old washclothes, dampened and thrown in the freezer make good teething chews--just make sure you supervise her carefully so she doesn't shred them and eat the pieces. Keep a number of cloths in the freezer so that when the one being used is thawed, you can replace it with another. And invest in a pair of bicycling gloves--leather palm and back, but with the fingers cut away. They'll save a lot of wear and tear on your hands.

And then, grab hold of your patience, correct her consistently (keep up with what you know worked before), and ride out the storm. :D This, too, shall pass... Nothing of what you describe sounds out of the ordinary from what I've experienced...and generally, once teething ends, they regain their senses :p.

December 28th, 2007, 04:10 PM
one thing I found with Bree when she was in her biting stage, is that she would bite my husbands arm leg whatever she could find, she also did this with my younger son.. I too was at my wits end cause she would not do that with me.. When she started doing this with hubby or son I asked them to stop everthing that they were doing and walk away.. or when she started it we would gentaly hold down her nose until she stoped and let go when she did this we prased her... we eventuly moved on to word command "be nice, play nice" no bite.. instead now she will lick until you have chapped hands arms you name it she will lick you until ends of time. lol lol lol I also can use the word uh uh like no no, (hoping you understand that) just remeber that not all dogs react the same way and until you find what works the best for Solo you have to keep trying...

the growling could be ger way of saying lets play, I know with Bree she will start barking and gowling when in play mode..

you are doing everything right..

December 28th, 2007, 05:59 PM
Thanks Breeze and hazelrunpack...

I am/was worried that I am dealing with a total demon puppy/dog, that she has really awful behavioural problems since she was weaned early (6 weeks). And the fact that this seems like such a setback was really disappointing; but I have heard that setbacks often happen at this stage- one step forward and 10 steps back :frustrated:. Hubby and I have found that holding her nose firmly but gently seems to make her really mad and likely to keep biting and growling! I gave her some ice cubes (of course supervised to make sure she wouldn't try to swallow them-- she just plays with them, puts them in her mouth, spits them out, repeat until melted). She doesn't seem to respond to my or hubby's verbal commands like NO, STOP, UH-UH (and yes I get that one, I use it too ;)) very much which is kind of odd, we both say them firmly and low. She doesn't respond any better to his deeper man voice either :shrug:
I should have mentioned also that her behaviour is often worse when we are playing outside. We built a long dog runner for her so she can run pretty much all over the yard, but when we approach her she has a tantrum, barks, and bites! :yell:

So basically, I should just take a deep breath and literally not take her behaviour personally (I almost had a breakdown complaining to hubby that Sola "hates me"). Probably silly but my feelings got kind of hurt. I've never had this kind of experience before and wasn't expecting it.

I will try the washcloth idea though, sounds like that might help :thumbs up :pray:

December 28th, 2007, 06:16 PM
I have a question... you say she has the full yard to run in?? and she is 4 months old??

This is just my option, ok... but when Bree would act up outside towards hubby, she was on a very long leash about 40 ft.. we had to shorten the leash until she relized that he was calling the shots not her and her "tanturm" got less and less.. when she would bark non stop outside we would pull in the leash with protest, and keep her there until she would calm down.. then we let the leash out slowly so instead of 40ft we would only give her 10 to play.. then a couple of days or weeks depending on how long it took her.. we continued this until she could listen not bark until she reached the 40 feet..

so what I am saying is maybe you are giving her to much freedom??