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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! Hopefully, this will be my last question. At least for awhile.
So Casey is doing well but she has an awful bite on her. We'll be walking her and then all of a sudden she attacks our ankles. And I mean attacks. It's like she can't get past it. All she focuses on is our ankles or if we're playing fetch our hands. Does anyone have any suggestions of what we can do. We've tried the positive reinforcement where when she stops we give her a treat but it doesn't seem to be helping at all. I would appreciate any suggestions (as would my ankles!).

Jenn
 

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we have been going through this lately with Kian. We have resorted to putting him on his back and pinning him until he submits.
I tried doing it in the past but he always wiggled out of it and lately, since he is bigger I have not given up. The other day I gave him a hard pin and it took me a better part of 10 minutes to calm him down. He let out the craziest sounds and panted like crazy, but then he relaxed and submitted. Now, ever so often when he tried to get into a nipping session we just throw him on his back til he stops. It gets easier now.
Maybe this could work for you or try stuffing a toy or chew rope in Casye's mouth or put her in another room as a time out.

Good luck.
 

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Time for some negative reinforcement. This can be a powerful tool in your arsenal as well if you use it wisely. The submission thing can be good for calming them down but a smack on the snout will wake them up to the idea that that is not desireable behaviour. I have only had to do this a couple of times for various misdemeanors but it can be affective. I wouldn't make it a habit though or the dog will start to avoid you.
 

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Jenn,

You are not alone! We got reassurance from the instructor at our puppy class who said this was a normal developmental phase (across breeds) but they need correction to learn not to do it. I think it's best to view this as something that won't go away quickly, but they learn gradually over time. Rosie is getting better, now at 12 weeks, but she still does it, especially at certain times of day (most often at night). Longer exercise sessions are now helpful more than they were when she was littler. The instructor supported what we were already finding most helpful through trial and error, standing with your back to the dog like a statue with arms folded and refusing to interact until the dog stops. If she continues, put a door or gate between you. This is hard to do on a walk, but you might try standing still with your back to her and refusing to continue the walk to see whether she settles down. Rosie is spooked by that statue thing and will often stop for a little while, if not we separate her. If she goes back to it, we repeat the same "time out." When she's in that mood, she usually does try again after a while and we have to repeat our response. We found other forms of correction only excited her more and she would bite harder, reacting as though the correction was part of the "game," as though now we were "into" playing rough. She seems to need a total "time out" to get the idea we don't find it fun and aren't playing. You'll have to figure out what of the various methods works for your dog.

Sarah
 

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Our v did that as a little puppy as well. One thing that helped was letting her roll around and play with other dogs (which we didn't do until she had all her vaccines - 16 weeks). They don't realize that they are hurting you when they are playbiting at your ankles that way. However, after they play with some other dogs/puppies and feel what teeth feel like on their own skin they start to figure it out. Another thing that has worked for us (not necessarily this problem, but jumping up, countersurfing, etc.) is a squirt bottle with water in it. Just a quick squirt did the trick for our girl!
 

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Jenn

There's "biting" and then there's really biting. It sounds as if you are in the biting phase of puppyhood. If Casey is damaging clothing, and breaking skin though, you have an issue that needs to be corrected very quickly.

Biting to me is the one "cardinal offense" a dog can commit. I just don't tolerate it.My solutions and techniques may seem a little over the top to some, but I have always conditioned my dogs to the point that a toddler could walk up and take the food out of their mouths.

When you tried the "soft touch", by rewarding Casey after she stopped, it may have confused her because she is still young. She may actually be increasing the behavior to get the treat because she believes that this is a behavior you desire. In her mind when she "worries" your hands and feet, she gets a treat.

The trick now is to convince Casey that this is no longer a fun game that will be rewarded. I do this the following way, but I will warn you upfront that you need to be careful about what you are doing here. This isn't "punishment". It's just making the biting game not fun.

When my dogs bite(play bite, nipping, to establish dominance). I do the following;
I get my thumb, or a few fingers into the back of their mouth and push down on the tongue, while simultaneously pushing the lower jaw down toward their chest. This is not done in a harsh manner it must be very controlled. I am not trying to punish, or inflict pain. I am only trying to make this an unpleasant experience for the dog. I only apply enough force to hold my fingers and thumb together with their tongue and lower jaw between them, and only apply a slow deliberate force to push the lower jaw towards the chest.
Two things happen here. The thumb and fingers are in the back of their mouth creating enough size to make closing the jaw difficult. When the lower jaw is pushed toward the chest, it makes it even more difficult to close their mouth. While I do this I am telling them "No Biting" over and over again. The entire evolution lasts only 5-10 seconds. It's not punishment. I just want them to associate biting and nipping with an unpleasant experience.
I know this may be a little over the top, but the intent is never to inflict pain, or use it for punishment. It has to be done in a very controlled, deliberate manner so as not to hurt the dog.
I recently acquired a one year old female vizsla that needs to have the biting thing brought under control. So I can definitely understand where you're coming from. She's starting to "get it" now. I'm also working through some other issues with her to get her overall behavior under control. Some were medical, some appear to have been dietary influenced.

I also don't agree with turning your back on the dog. I understand the intent, but I face them and stare them straight in the eyes, and if anything rapidly advance forward while shuffling my feet and sending dirt at them. I'm the alpha in this situation.
 

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Gunnr said:
I also don't agree with turning your back on the dog. I understand the intent, but I face them and stare them straight in the eyes, and if anything rapidly advance forward while shuffling my feet and sending dirt at them. I'm the alpha in this situation.
I understand where you're coming from, and you clearly have much experience. It strikes me though that it depends on whether you are focusing more on operant conditioning principles or dominance/pack model. I think either could work; the purpose of the back turning as an operant conditioning strategy would be to deprive the dog of the reinforcement it gets from bite-oriented play.
 

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Hi Gunr

We have a 17 week old male V who is a handful and constantly wants to play bite, bark and cause chaos! We have tried many things to try to discourage the biting, none have had any effect so far. From what you have written your method seems to have worked for you - can you tell me what age this started to take effect from - Floyd just doesn't seem to get that it's not the behaviour we want.

Thanks

Fiona
 

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Fiona,
My GF tried Gunnr's method last night and she had success with our 6 month old.
Like I said in my other post to you, it could be he's teething right now too. Their mouths are just uncomfortable to them right now.
 

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Hi Gunnr & all,
The day that you posted we actually met with a personal dog trainer. My fiance and I wanted to nip this in the butt before it got worse. Well sure enough he had us do exactly what you had said and it worked like a charm. If she bit our hand we held her mouth shut and said no very firmly. We then let go and put our hand in front of her mouth again. If she bit, the same thing happened. After one or two times, she started licking our fingers and was praised heavily for it. We only had to correct her a couple times after and she hasn't been nipping at all. At first I thought it might be too harsh, but she responded immediately and respected us more. There's no more biting or nipping and when she's about to she stops. You can actually see her thinking that it's wrong. He told us to make sure she knows whats okay to bite and not. This has worked very well for us and we're going to hire him to help us train her in obedience. Thanks again for the post. I'll keep you updated on her progress.
Jenn
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oh, the other thing we're doing is letting her roam around the room we're in with a collar and 6-8 foot leash (with the loop cut off so it doesn't get caught on anything) attached. If she tries to bite the furniture or anything else she shouldn't we pull on the leash fairly hard and say no firmly. We don't move her at all from the situation. If she bites the couch again, the same good tug and a no. We've only been doing this for 2 days but she has been improving so quickly. She's really smart and wants to please us. This is working really well for us so far.
 

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I understand where you're coming from, and you clearly have much experience. It strikes me though that it depends on whether you are focusing more on operant conditioning principles or dominance/pack model. I think either could work; the purpose of the back turning as an operant conditioning strategy would be to deprive the dog of the reinforcement it gets from bite-oriented play.
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Sarahaf

One thing is guaranteed. There is no one single answer, book or method. Each dog is different and unique, as are their owners. If there was one method, or book it would have been developed long ago. ;) Everyone samples from varying techniques and philosophies to derive the system that aids them in achieving their end goal, no matter what it may be.
If you are getting results with the operant conditioning strategy, stick with it. Each person has to find what works best for them. I use that same principle when my dogs commit "lesser offenses". Vizsla's definitely respond to be excluded from their owners good graces. Biting, other than puppy nipping, is just a big deal with me.
If I could clarify my position a bit, it may help.
Bird dog hunters always use the expression "I trained my dog to hunt". Well, this isn't really true. A dog is born with the ability to hunt, and the hunter is actually the limiting factor in their relationship. Simply put, the dog doesn't need the hunter to succeed. A more true statement would be that" I trained my dog to hunt with me".
In order to accomplish this I have to convince my dogs that I have better ideas than they do, and that my way is the most successful way, or that at least we'll have more fun doing it my way. I become the alpha, if you will, in our relationship and the dog doesn't really care that he/she isn't top dog and will adopt a more subordinate position. They're just asking for the relationship to be fair and predictable which is why I always try to establish very black and white boundries for them. I have to assume the alpha role in order for them to accept that we are together, as a team/pack and that we all have our roles.
I was influenced by the writings of authors like George Bird Evans, Havilah Babcock, Delmar Smith, Richard Wolters, and others like them. Their position was always maintained that a person and a dog are a team when hunting. There has to be trust both ways. A bird dog is just under control when in the field. Too much control on the part of the hunter and the dog shuts down and stops hunting. Too little control and the dog is out of control. It's a very fine line that can be influenced by different variables on any given day, but at the core the dog must accept that it is not the alpha on the team. So I guess this is why my position is one of meeting the issue head on. I don't want my dogs to get mixed signals.
The best dogs, in my opinion, are the ones that make you prove it. Not by brute force, or harsh treatment, but by controlling the situation in a manner that is clear. I'll take the dog that says "prove it" over the wallflower any day. I'm not referring to dogs with dominance issues here, but independent, forward minded dogs that are confident in themselves.

Vfloyd

There really is no specific age. It starts very delicately when they are puppies. I'll actually use a rag or something, possibly even just gently wiggle my finger down their tongue to their throat. Their mouths and jaws are just way too delicate at this stage. I'll take the nips rather than risk injury to the puppy.
At 4 1/2 months he's still pretty delicate, even though it doesn't seem so at times, I would go slow. I used to have a thick, soft cotton chew toy. When they would start biting I would put the rope in their mouth to bite on and then not let them spit it out for a few seconds. Make 'em hold it for a bit. Another thing to try is to just gently clamp their nose and mouth shut, sternly tell them no biting, and put them in their crate every time they bite ( when you're sick and tired of having to put him away for the umpteenth time that day, then you know you're being consistent about it). You have to work on it everyday, and everyone in the family has to enforce it.
To be honest though, at 17 weeks he should be **** on wheels. It's the age. Let him grow up, but try to stop/limit the nipping now by having him associate it with an unpleasant after effect, like the stern voice and being put away.

Jenn

It's great that you're achieving results. Biting is a real pain in the rear end, literally and figuratively. There is also nothing wrong with having a short leash n the house. It will put an end to the "catch me if you can game" fairly quickly in the house. ;)
Pay attention to everything the trainer does, and exactly how it's being done. The clearer the picture, the quicker she'll "get it". Ask lots of question so that you are able to reinforce the lessons, and understand the "whys".
 

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Gunnr said:
I was influenced by the writings of authors like George Bird Evans, Havilah Babcock, Delmar Smith, Richard Wolters, and others like them. Their position was always maintained that a person and a dog are a team when hunting. There has to be trust both ways. A bird dog is just under control when in the field.
Gunnr,

Thanks for your comments and info. I'm definitely way out of my league in this discussion:) I'm a novice at training puppies, new to vizslas, and afraid I was mainly influenced by psych grad school (I'm a psychologist). I did also read The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. But it was a while ago. Meant to read it again but things got awfully busy with the little biter. She's a delight, though, when she's not chomping or emptying the dishes from the dishwasher...At any rate, thanks again, you give a lot of useful guidance. What we're doing helps, but not miraculously. As you say, you have to keep repeating the correction; at this age, they keep trying.
 

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Hi Gunr

Thanks for your reply - he certainly is **** on wheels at the moment! We had started putting him in his crate when he nips or gets too rowdy, so will carry on with this - i'll try anything at the moment.

Thanks
Fiona
 

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We followed the method described by Dr. Ian Dunbar. His book was called something like Before and After you get your puppy.

When Catan came home he was biting everything and everyone. We all have clothes with rips in the sleeves or legs. Anytime Catan bit us or our clothes we yelped like he'd just inflicted the worst injury of all time. He would immediately stop and look at us. In maybe three weeks he just stopped biting us.

Catan's now 8 months old and now I find he's mouthing us alot. He just likes to put his teeth on you as he plays. There's no pain or intent to hurt us but I really don't want it to continue - especially with young children visiting the house. Last night I told the kids it was time to start our yelping again. No sooner than I did that Catan wrapped his teeth around my dd's hand - she did as insturcted and screamed as if there was blood gushing. Catan immediately stopped and got this really worried look on his face. It was priceless. He seem so up set and then started licking her hand.


Now if someone could just tell me how to stop him from barking at us and constantly chalanging us to come after him then life would be good.
 

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Sarahaf

Not familiar with the Jean Donaldson book. I'll try to see of I can locate it at the bookstore next time I'm there. I'm always looking for new resources.
I've always found it ironic that there are so many books, magazines and articles that are very specific about how to train a dog to hunt. They go into very detailed, explicit written explanations, often accompanied with photos, so that a novice trainer actually has a chance of meeting with success. Yet for the person that just wants an all around companion dog to put a bandana on , take to the beach and play frisbee with, there isn't nearly as much written material available to help them, and these dogs are far and away the majority population of dogs. ???
I've always advised people with hunting breed dogs, that don't hunt, to pick up some books on training the dog to hunt. Let the experts with decades of experience that have trained hundreds of dogs guide them, and train the dog to be a hunting dog. Skip the part where they would actually have to shoot something, but the rest of the process is applicable. A well trained hunting dog will do everything most people want out of their dog.
By the way, no one here is out of their league,we all just bring something different to the table to offer. ;)
 

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Hi Lisa,

What you decribe is exactly what we went through. Most of the ripped shirts were the kids as they were lower to the ground. However with discouragement she grew out of it as she grew out of that puppy stage. I like to play fight with my V and she loves it. There is a lot of mouthing and hand holding but I wouldn't call it biting. Even when its getting pretty heated she won't bite hard. And if I tell her NO BITING she goes really soft on it.

As for the barking you can teach them to bark on command and be quiet. Police teach their dogs to TALK. They do this by teasing them with a favourite toy and maybe they are tied to the fence at the same time. As the dog barks they positively reinforce this with the TALK commmand and then give them the toy. When they learn to TALK on command you can then teach them QUIET. I teach all my commands with hand signals as well so you can siliently give the dog commands. QUIET is finger to your lips. If the dog is whining outside the door this is a really good one. You don't have to yell at it ;D

Funny thing with barking she only does it at home. She never barks or even looks like she is going to bark when we are in the field.
 

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Hi Madaboutvizslas

I never thought about teaching Catan to bark - just keep getting upset with him for the barking. I'll have to look into this more.

He also only barks in the house. Out for walks or running in the forest he doesn't make a peep. Even passin dog that's barking it's head off, he just passes on by.

Just saw that you're from New Zealand. Catan's mom was brought to Canada as a pup from NZ.
 
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