Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition) - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

So I was at a new Dog Park this evening and a Lady freaked at me because my pup was "biting" her dog. I tried to explain to her that they were playing, and she totally lost it on me telling me my dog was out of control and aggressive. I'm not one for confrontation, but just before I left I asked her "how would you like them to play, a game of hopscotch perhaps?"

Anyhow, after reading some posts recently and my incident at the park I decided to put up something on biting verses mouthing.

All puppies will "mouth", a behavior that some people mistake for biting. Mouthing is a learning process for puppies while biting is usually a corrective measure that has more force than mouthing. Sometimes while playing a puppy will nip too hard and cause its playmate to bite back. This is part of how a puppy learns and is normal behavior. Sometimes the puppy will nip its owner too hard while playing, the same way it nipped its litter mate. Again, this part of the learning process and should not be confused with intended, aggressive biting.

The best way to prevent puppy biting and mouthing is to teach the puppy the correct way to interact with humans. It helps if the puppy is left with its mother and litter mates until it is at least 12 weeks old. The mother dog will teach the puppy its most important lesson – bite inhibition. Bite inhibition is when a puppy learns to control the force of its mouth and to refrain from using its mouth in certain circumstances.

Sometimes an owner will not be sure if the puppy is being just a puppy or if there are more serious aggressive tendencies. Most young puppies do not aggressively bite. Therefore if the owner is doubtful, that is enough of a warning to seek professional help.

When working with a mouthy puppy, keep in mind that the puppy does not know how to act around humans. The puppy has not had much life experience outside of its canine family. Many inexperienced dog owners will punish a puppy for mouthing. This is often harmful to the puppy's mental well being and teaches the puppy to use aggressive methods to solve problems. Puppies may bite too hard because they do not know better and need to be taught, not punished.

All dogs, and certainly all puppies, chew. They will chew almost anything that they can get into their mouth. Therefore the owner must puppy-proof the area where the puppy will spend its time. Puppies do not know what is safe and what is not safe to put into their mouth.

Providing proper and safe chew toys will teach the puppy what it can and cannot chew. The best products are ones made of rubber and nylon designed for puppies and dogs to chew. Anything else will look, feel and/or smell like the things in the home that the puppy is not allowed to chew. How can a puppy be expected to understand that to chew rawhide is correct but to chew shoes is not?

If your puppy should put any part of your person in its mouth, gently tell the puppy not to do this and give the puppy the correct thing to put in its mouth. The same applies to unacceptable objects that a puppy might try to chew. Once the puppy takes the correct object, praise it, so that it will know what is good.

Do not try to yank or otherwise pull objects from the puppy's mouth. You could hurt the puppy, even pull out a tooth or two. You will also trigger the puppy's grab reflex which is not what it should learn. Yanking things that are in a puppy's mouth could teach the puppy to have a pulling contest.

When the puppy releases the incorrect object and takes the correct object into its mouth, praise the puppy for doing what is correct. Remember, the puppy does not know what is right and wrong unless it is shown.

If a puppy shows genuine aggressive behavior, such as snarling, raised lips, glaring eyes and body language that is stiff and threatening, the owner should consult a canine behaviorist immediately. If the owner is not sure about the puppy's behavior, it is better to check with a behaviorist than to take a chance.

Many puppy and dog owners think that unwanted behavior will go away on its own, or they feel that, given enough love, the puppy will change. Some feel that the right type of punishment will cure the problem.

Aggressive behavior will not go away on it own, nor will the dog get better with age. The biggest mistake that owners make is to excuse away aggressive behavior and/or hope that the behavior will be outgrown. The behavior always gets worse with age, because of what the puppy learns as it is growing up.

To successfully raise a puppy to be a well adjusted adult, the dog owner will recognize the difference between mouthing, playing and true aggression. Mouthing is the way a puppy learns. All dogs will chew and carry things in their mouth. Some dogs will even use their mouth to show affection. And all dogs will play using their mouths.

However, the responsible dog owner will not tolerate aggressive behavior from either a puppy, a young adult or an adult dog. A properly socialized and adjusted puppy or dog will not feel the need to act aggressively.

A dog that chooses to act aggressively is a danger to itself and those around it. Aggression can also signal that the dog has a relationship problem with humans. Sometimes a puppy's owner has unknowingly taught the puppy to act in an aggressive manner. In other cases, the dog decides that aggressive behavior is needed when it is not. This is a misjudgment on the part of the dog, indicating that the dog needs training.

denparkin is offline  
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 12:05 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Most hunting breeds will play like they are in the WWF or extreme fighting arena! It's just how they have fun!
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 01:01 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

I agree with the rough playing. We go on a weekly playdate with two male V's (one adorable pup is a member on this board) and they all run into each other nonstop and it does look painful but they seem to enjoy it.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 03:02 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Originally Posted by denparkin
So I was at a new Dog Park this evening and a Lady freaked at me because my pup was "biting" her dog. I tried to explain to her that they were playing, and she totally lost it on me telling me my dog was out of control and aggressive. I'm not one for confrontation, but just before I left I asked her "how would you like them to play, a game of hopscotch perhaps?"
Again another reason why I cannot go to a dog park with Kian. He plays hard and likes to "be the boss".
I was with two members of this forum last summer at an off leash dog park when I got chewed out by a gentleman because Kian put his full grown Weim on her back... oh well. I believe that is the last time I have been to an off leash corral.

Come and join us and the other Toronto and GTA V crew.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 10:44 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Love your response, denparkin! I have had a lot of people get worried about our dogs playing and I tell them to watch the tails and listen for yelps. If one is yelping and the other one isn't accepting the signal, I intervene. If nobody's yelping but one dog has his/her tail down, he/she may not be having fun anymore. To their credit, I guess it is shocking to watch at first...
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 11:00 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Sophie too takes down bigger dogs including a big, black lab by "biting" their ankles. But it's all fun and games, and I haven't heard any remarks yet! Sophie's best friend GSP Mia makes these awful growling noises when they play together, and many mistake them for "aggression," but Mia is the sweetest dog and it's really just how they play together - so much fun to watch!

My personal observation - people are a lot more judgmental in dog parks, and it is almost like a competition about whose dog is the best behaved. People in dog training school playgroups seem to be a lot more informed and only intervene when there is an actual potential threat for a dog to be hurt.

[size=12pt]Vizslas are my favorite people...[/size]
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 04:30 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

So we just got our vizsla puppy two weeks ago (she was only 8 weeks, and now I realize that was too young, but too late). She is a lot of work, but clearly wants to make us happy. The problem is at night when she gets out of control. She seems to have "sun-downers", where she can't stop running around and biting us. If I pick her up and try to cuddle her, to calm her down, she just gets frantic trying to grab my hand or anything she can get a hold of. It's not mouthing, it's biting and it hurts. My kids just scream for help when she gets like this and I usually have to put her in her kennel, which works sometimes but others she just whines and cries. Smacking her on the nose immediately after a bite doesn't seem to do anything except encourage more biting. Will she grow out of this stage? I've found that at other times of the day I can put her in my lap and hold a rawhide chew for her and she'll gnaw on it like a baby with a pacifier. So it's just something about that time of day. Also, no amount of exercise during the day makes any difference.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 05:07 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Hi Mishka,

I got my new V pup just over 3 weeks ago (also 8 weeks old) and we are experiencing the same situation. About 8:00 PM Copper is crazy. Running biting anything in sight etc. It has gotten much better the last week though. I have a trainer who comes to the house and her suggestion (which goes against most of what I have read but seems to be working) is to put puppy in his crate when he bites. No talking, no eye contact completly ignore puppy. The timeout should be short 30-40 seconds but make sure you wait for him to stop whinning/barking before you let puppy out.

Copper is pretty managable the rest of the time but once 8:00 roles around it's crazy time. I am told this is 100% common and they out grow the behavior, most likely once you start exercising them.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 06:09 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

Odin was like this at about 10 weeks. We just kept shoving a toy in his mouth when he tried to go for us or anything else. We had especially good luck with stuffingless toys made by Skinneeez.

He got over it by about 13 weeks, but now we're at 16 weeks and teething like crazy, and he's back trying too get his mouth around anything he can whilst running around the house like a madman.

We have a puppy kong, that we stuff with a piece of dehydrated lamb lung, which gives us about 15 minutes of calm puppy, or alternately peanut butter which he's mastered and only lasts about 5 minutes. A frozen face cloth only seems to keep him occupied if I am holding it for him, or if he can rip it to shreds. His bed is now a source of fun as he tries to rip out the stuffing, and he is obsessed with going outside and digging up rocks to chew on. (one night he asked to go out 14 times in one hour alone.) We put up a baby gate to aid us in containing him to one portion of the house where we can keep an eye on him, and he tries to eat the gate. Then the baseboard, and yesterday he tried to chew the fridge. YEP... the stainless steel fridge. Looked yummy apparently.

Any hope watching of 8pm television shows has went right out the window!

I am hoping it gets better? But WHEN?! :

Odin - Male bundle of trouble. Born: 2011-08-13
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 06:15 PM
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Re: Biting VS. Mouthing (bite inhibition)

"Eat it first, worry about consequences later!"

I love that on your posts Suliko.

We have a friend with a 7 yo male vizsla (Whiskey) and they attack each other and Summit relentlessly tries to dominate the older dog. They just go at each other until it's time to go home. We monitor the action and make sure the tails are up. It's pretty amazing to watch. We can't bring them in the house because they will tear it up. At six months Summit is already 44lbs and he is fearless of other dogs. I only get him around friends dogs because he plays so ruff with them.

Following what Ian Dunbar teaches to stop a puppy from biting has completely worked for us.
He went from a little terrorist at 10 weeks old, to not biting at all at six months, even when I ruff house with him.

Sometimes he seems to test his limits like when you are drying him with towels or cleaning his feet with a towel and he gets really excited and will mouth our hands too hard, but just saying "Aww!!" will stop him.

Our neighbors in our duplex must have though we were nuts for a few months, constantly yelling Aww ... Aww. Aww that hurts ... Aww! :-\

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