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Help with Malinois puppy....

maplemalinois
September 30th, 2010, 10:55 PM
My Mal puppy is 12 weeks old and we are training with the Clicker method and positive reinforcement. I have questions for other Mal owners (or others who have experienced similar issues).

He is quite mouthy, but getting somewhat better with bite inhibition. He will grab pants (with skin or without) and lock on...using the "yipe" or "ow!" will only have him release and comeback harder. "Freezing" is not always successful. We can do time-out when inside, but when we're outside in the yard, this is not always possible. And we can't get away from him as he is on the leash, not tethered independently.

He does food guard and we have been working at every meal so that he will now sit and wait for each handful to be put into his bowl. He won't eat that handful until his release word. He has been good for 3-4 weeks, but tonight he growled when I pet his back as he ate.

We are being extremely careful with his upbringing as we are aware of the challenges of the breed. But I welcome any others experiences or information.

We started puppy classes last night and that went well, but the mouthing and biting (especially painful with puppy teeth!) is quite concerning. Any other Mal owners who may know that this is something the Mals outgrow a bit when they teeth? Or is it something we have to train to stop?

Thanks so much for any help.

luckypenny
October 1st, 2010, 07:31 PM
Welcome to pets.ca, maplemalinois :). I don't have experience with Malinois puppies specifically but, I do have some battle scars due to puppies practicing their ankle hunting skills :rolleyes:.

My Mal puppy is 12 weeks old and we are training with the Clicker method and positive reinforcement.

Excellent :thumbs up.

He is quite mouthy, but getting somewhat better with bite inhibition. He will grab pants (with skin or without) and lock on...using the "yipe" or "ow!" will only have him release and comeback harder. "Freezing" is not always successful. We can do time-out when inside, but when we're outside in the yard, this is not always possible. And we can't get away from him as he is on the leash, not tethered independently.

What do your time-outs entail? In my experience, it's not the puppy that has to be removed, it's the people that have to remove themselves immediately for several minutes. Is your yard safely enclosed? For indoors, you may find a baby gate useful.

He does food guard and we have been working at every meal so that he will now sit and wait for each handful to be put into his bowl. He won't eat that handful until his release word. He has been good for 3-4 weeks, but tonight he growled when I pet his back as he ate.

You may be moving too fast. A rule in our home is that if a dog is already eating, we leave them be. But, if you're working on conditioning him to not mind being touched while eating, you can drop a morsel of something yummier than his regular food (ham, chicken, liver, cheese, etc) into his bowl as you hold your other hand beside/above him. If he shows no reaction, repeat dropping a morsel and bring your other hand closer. With each repetition, you can continue to bring your hand closer until you are able to touch him. It should take you several days and only repeat 3-4 times per meal. If at any time he stiffens, growls, pulls his lips forward, go back several steps to where he wasn't reacting and end session on a good note.

We started puppy classes last night and that went well, but the mouthing and biting (especially painful with puppy teeth!) is quite concerning. Any other Mal owners who may know that this is something the Mals outgrow a bit when they teeth? Or is it something we have to train to stop?


I'd definitely suggest you teach to eventually stop altogether. Is there a question/answer period during your classes? It may be something you'd like to bring up as there are certainly other "students" who are experiencing the same issues.

Here are some links you may find useful in the meantime.

http://www.sfspca.org/sites/default/files/play-biting-in-puppies.pdf

http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/AFTER%20You%20Get%20Your%20Puppy.pdf

And a great video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c77--cCHPyU&feature=player_embedded

keliza
October 5th, 2010, 08:31 PM
I have a black lab & aussie shepherd puppy who is 4 months old and was a nasty ankle, ear, nose, chin, arm, hand... you name it, biter. The only thing I found that worked was enforcing the fact you are alpha. It sounds a little barbaric, atleast I thought so, but it does actually help. When puppy bites, quickly flip them on their back and hold them firmly but gently with your hand on their chest until they relax and give up. This might take several minutes, it took me almost 20 the first couple times, but once you do it a few times they get the idea. It helps too if you growl `no bites`at them while you`re holding them down and then just repeat `no bites`any time afterwards that they bite you. You could also look up alpha dog training tips, I found some other useful stuff that way.

If you figure out how to help the food aggression, please let me know! That, and housebreaking, are our last battles we have to win with this little beast.

Bailey_
October 6th, 2010, 11:05 AM
12 weeks is still quite young. Your puppy is still learning to explore his world with his mouth; your family has become his "playmates" in a sense.

Redirecting the biting will help your pup learn what is appropriate to mouth, and whats not.

When you go outside with him, is it possible to bring along a few top-choice toy items? When he gets mouthy, redirect his attention to the toy. He needs to start learning that playing with you is fine, but playing with you the appropriate way is what you expect from him.

using the "yipe" or "ow!" will only have him release and comeback harder. "

I have never seen a puppy that doesn't get excited when it's handler exhibits a high-pitched sound. Definitely don't continue with it.

He does food guard and we have been working at every meal so that he will now sit and wait for each handful to be put into his bowl. He won't eat that handful until his release word. He has been good for 3-4 weeks, but tonight he growled when I pet his back as he ate.


How did you react when he growled? LP gave some great advice as to conditioning him.

luckypenny
October 6th, 2010, 11:51 AM
When puppy bites, quickly flip them on their back and hold them firmly but gently with your hand on their chest until they relax and give up. This might take several minutes, it took me almost 20 the first couple times, but once you do it a few times they get the idea. It helps too if you growl `no bites`at them while you`re holding them down and then just repeat `no bites`any time afterwards that they bite you. You could also look up alpha dog training tips, I found some other useful stuff that way.

Keliza, please please do your research carefully before giving this potentially dangerous advice to others. You're communicating to your puppy/dog that your intention is to kill it :eek: which can lead to all sorts of owner-directed aggression based on self-defense. If it works for you, it's not because puppy respects your "alpha" status, it's because she's terrified :(.

Bailey_
October 6th, 2010, 12:03 PM
I have a black lab & aussie shepherd puppy who is 4 months old and was a nasty ankle, ear, nose, chin, arm, hand... you name it, biter. The only thing I found that worked was enforcing the fact you are alpha. It sounds a little barbaric, atleast I thought so, but it does actually help. When puppy bites, quickly flip them on their back and hold them firmly but gently with your hand on their chest until they relax and give up. This might take several minutes, it took me almost 20 the first couple times, but once you do it a few times they get the idea. It helps too if you growl `no bites`at them while you`re holding them down and then just repeat `no bites`any time afterwards that they bite you. You could also look up alpha dog training tips, I found some other useful stuff that way.

If you figure out how to help the food aggression, please let me know! That, and housebreaking, are our last battles we have to win with this little beast.

Keliza, do you know where this training technique comes from? It's a result of people watching a mother dog discipline her pups, it's how she will essentially keep all eight of her puppies in line.

The problem with a human being reinacting this particular situation is that we as owners are not our puppies 'Mother'; nor could we ever hope to establish our leadership with a dog in this manner.

The ONLY time I will ever turn a puppy onto it's back (which by the way, I would never reccomend anyone EVER doing on a hard surface - it's generally not natural for a dog to lie directly on it's spine, especially when pressure is applied to their belly) - is when doing a puppy temperment test; and even then, I don't enjoy it. The point of putting a puppy on it's back during one of these tests is to assess how quickly it will either shut down, or challenge the handler - and how it reacts. (Whining, avoiding eye contact, or biting to be released). It in NO way is an enjoyable moment for the puppy - they don't understand the situation the same way they understand it when their mother does it - and I agree with LP - it's very scary for the puppy and should be avoided.

Choochi
October 6th, 2010, 12:10 PM
DO NOT do puppy rolls, they are misguided and don't actually teach the pup any thing.


You have a mal... one of the most prized breeds for police work because of their biting and high prey instincts. What you're dealing with is perfectly normal and what these dogs were in fact bred to do. They are supposed to be obnoxious little nippy alligator puppies. You can't stop that instinct, but you can redirect it and eventually teach the pup some self control.

By squeaking you're only encouraging the pup to bite more, you're adding fuel to his prey drive. You need to have appropriate toys to redirect that biting energy to, that will be your best hope at this point. Something like an old rag will do just fine, even have it on a string. Play with it with the pup like you would use a cat toy. The idea is for the pup to try to catch it and bite it. When it catches it, praise the pup and play tug with him. If he goes back to your hands or body, ignore that as much as you can and try harder to make the toy more appealing. If the pup is getting overworked, give him a time out until he quiets down and then bring the toy back out right away and encourage him to chase and play with it. Eventually you can channel that drive and desire to bite the toy into very valuable training motivation. As you progress, you should start to train some control into the game. So get the pup to sit before giving him an ok to go after the toy, and of course teach the very invaluable "out".

If you're feeling overwhelmed, can you get some support from the pup's breeder? Training a mal is a must, they do not make good pets when they have no job. I hope you know what you got yourself into.

BenMax
October 6th, 2010, 02:25 PM
DO NOT do puppy rolls, they are misguided and don't actually teach the pup any thing.


You have a mal... one of the most prized breeds for police work because of their biting and high prey instincts. What you're dealing with is perfectly normal and what these dogs were in fact bred to do. They are supposed to be obnoxious little nippy alligator puppies. You can't stop that instinct, but you can redirect it and eventually teach the pup some self control.

By squeaking you're only encouraging the pup to bite more, you're adding fuel to his prey drive. You need to have appropriate toys to redirect that biting energy to, that will be your best hope at this point. Something like an old rag will do just fine, even have it on a string. Play with it with the pup like you would use a cat toy. The idea is for the pup to try to catch it and bite it. When it catches it, praise the pup and play tug with him. If he goes back to your hands or body, ignore that as much as you can and try harder to make the toy more appealing. If the pup is getting overworked, give him a time out until he quiets down and then bring the toy back out right away and encourage him to chase and play with it. Eventually you can channel that drive and desire to bite the toy into very valuable training motivation. As you progress, you should start to train some control into the game. So get the pup to sit before giving him an ok to go after the toy, and of course teach the very invaluable "out".

If you're feeling overwhelmed, can you get some support from the pup's breeder? Training a mal is a must, they do not make good pets when they have no job. I hope you know what you got yourself into.

Great insight and good advice.:thumbs up