Puppy Biting -  Your Questions Answered
Puppy Biting Problem - Stop This Early Sign Of Aggression Before It's to Late.....

Below are questions from puppy owners like yourself.  These conversations have been collected
from a popular
Dog Training Forum where a team of professional Dog Trainers offer their advice
and answer your personal questions.     
"Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer"
A Pit Bull Puppy Biting
can be a major challenge.  

You bring home your little
bundle of joy and discover
that his or her only mission
is to rip your finger clean
off your hand....
This kind of behavior can indicate an early sign of aggression.  It's important to follow Proper Puppy
methods to prevent potential problems as they become an adult dog.  

"Phyllis Has a Pit Bull Puppy Biting Problem That She Needs Help With!"...

Phyllis Writes:

Today my 14 week old pit bull puppy, Patches, and I start puppy training class at our local pet department store. I
know the trainer is keen on clicker training, and each participant will be given a "free" clicker. After reading your
book, and doing some research into what clicker training is, I must say I agree with your take on the matter. If I just
play along during class (I don't want to disrupt class), but avoid using the clicker when we are not in class, will it
just confuse the heck out of my puppy?

My real issue is Patches' biting. I have read and followed the recommendations in the book, and the biting
incidents have subsided. When we work on the down command, she has started turning her head to nip at my
hand when I touch her shoulders. I give her a stern NO when she tries to bite, and I continue with the exercise. As a
pit bull/malamute mix she is head strong. I don't want her to get the idea that biting at me will make me back off (I
apply minimal pressure), but at the same time I am worried that giving her a stern NO while trying to teach her
down will only confuse her. (She isn't really trying to hurt me; it is more like she is just telling me she does not like
being touched in that way.)

Maybe my mistake is she is just still too young; I noted that you recommend 4 months to 6 months for obedience
training, and Patches is just 14 weeks.

I look forward to your response.

Dog Training Advisor Responds:

There are a few different ways to go about fixing the biting, especially in your case where it more of a warning than
an actual CHOMP.

When she turns around to nip you, instead of giving just her a verbal NO, give her a scruff shake as well. This is
how Mom would have corrected any pups that got too rambunctious with her, and since you can vary the degree
you apply it (slight pinch to a deep "muscle" bite), the puppy will tell you at what level it finally takes you seriously.
Remember to praise and tell her what a good girl she is when she calms down and lets you handle her.

Second, remember that a lot of puppy training is supposed to be based on positive reinforcement, but if you feel
that you would benefit from using the pinch collar, 4-6 months is generally the minimum age we recommend using
it. At Patches' age, you should be correcting behavior problems (which seems to be the main problem anyway)
and not missed commands. Have you tried using any food treats in training to help her understand what you
want...or am I missing the point and you're past the point of her 'understanding, and it's up to the 'doing' part? Lure
training can be useful with pups since they are more reward-motivated, so a treat or a favorite toy (try the toy first)
might be something that she will work for. This will teach her what you mean exactly when you say "down," and will
eliminate the confusion for when you go to touch her. And if she does go for you before she does the command, I
would make sure she follows through first so that she doesn't learn that throwing a temper tantrum will get her out
of it.

Third, use this as an opportunity to start teaching her that it really shouldn't be a fight to handle any part of her.
During quiet times, you can pet her all over, tug her tail gently, play with her feet and nails, muzzle/ears/eyes/teeth,
etc...just so that she learns to accept all types of handling over any part of her body. (The vet will really appreciate
this too!)

Phillis Replies:

I have done the scruff shake, but it seems the more I attempt to correct her in such a physical way, the more she
wants to bite at me. I feel as if I am being very stern with her, but clearly she does not think so. I follow all the pack
leader advice. I do not play games that I know will encourage her biting; she just gets so excited. She loves the
ball on a rope, and it is a game we can play without her biting me. I also know the problem is me; all my husband
has to do is point his finger at her and look mean. She is immediately on her back. (Interesting: In life my husband
is a leader, a manager, and his people respect him. I on the other hand I am the kind one, every one thinks I am so
nice, bla, bla, bla.)

I do use treats and a ball when training. (Like I said, I read the book.) She is very smart; she's been sitting on
command since the day after I brought her home. She knows the down command, but challenges me, guess she's
making sure I am serious. She is good about coming when called. Handling her is the real problem. If I pet her,
she turns to nip at me. I handle her 3 or 4 times a day. Perhaps the scruff shake is not "motivational" enough. I
have always wanted a well-trained dog who thinks the sun rises and sets on me; I think I am too worried she'll hate

No worries about the puppy classes. Apparently I paid $95 so we could spend the first 30 minutes of our first class
touring the store while the trainer pointed out items we could buy! I am not spending $25 on a gentle lead (we
have been working on loose leash training for a week now, and Patches is doing well); nor will I buy a $10 treat
holder. My 77 cent apron, from our local builder supply store, does just fine, plus there is room for her ball on a

I'll just keep being persistent, and see if I can be a bit more stern with the scruff shake. Is it on video?

One more thank-you comment. I also have a ten-year old Shiba Inu who has always pulled on her leash, to the
point that she does have a bruised trachea, and I rarely walk her; it isn't fun for either of us. She is a stubborn dog,
but not stupid. It took just one bite from the pinch collar for her to figure out she had to watch me, and stay with me.
Now we both look forward to our walks. Wished I had understood the value of the pinch collar ten years ago.

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