15 months old, rescue, working on nipping for attention. Just need support
I've had Zoey for a month now. I do think she may be my heart dog.
I love almost everything about her. (Yes, there is one thing I don't love and the reason for the post.) I've always had rescue dogs but I have never had one settle into our lives so easily. She walks well on the leash (with a fabric martingale because I don't want to lose her) and only pulls when she sees a squirrel.
She is about 15 months old and full of puppy energy still. She was well socialized at some point because she has great people and doggie skills with meeting and greeting. She was just never trained any obedience or manners but is working well on that, well, MOST of that.
I am using a backpack to help her get more of an energy drain from our walks since she is young (and I am not) plus I am rehabbing my knee from a meniscus tear which means I can't walk as far as I would like, yet. So she does about a mile and a half with me once or twice a day and then several longer walks with my husband each day.
We are going to group obedience classes where she is the star pupil, not trying to engage with other dogs, listening to me, waiting nicely on her rug, etc. We are also working one-on-one with an excellent trainer who believes, as I do, in training with NILFF and love.
Sounds great, right? :wub:
But here's the issue I need support with - she's a nipper for attention. Not always but a couple of times a day. I can understand first thing in the morning because we haven't walked or played yet to release the energy. It also happens in the evenings, a few hours after eating she will want to go outside so we do and before I can even get her to get a toy, she is nipping at me. My arms, legs, back and even my stomach are bruised from all the nips. When I went to PT for my knee last week the therapist gasped at the many bruises on my calves.
Working with the trainer we have taught her to "get a toy" and then we can play chase with her (though my chase is limited due to my injury - I mostly try to get her to run by my so I can tap her on the rear as she goes by and get her to keep running.) Hubby actually runs around with her and she is pretty good when she is running at keeping that toy in her mouth now. (Which means she isn't running by and trying to nip as she goes by.) She needs to do the zooms a couple of times a day to get really tired.
But sometimes we go outside, like at the end of the day, and I barely get out the door and she is on me, nipping at my legs, jumping up to get my arms or hands. We are working on "stop" by playing tug and asking her to "stop" and she does it most of the time, letting go of the toy and sitting and I mark and reward then we play some more. But when she gets into this other mode, it's like a switch is flipped and I can't get through to her.
I've resorted the last couple of days to standing on the patio as close to the door as I can and as soon as she starts to nip and I say stop and she ignores me, I step back in the house. (I can't turn my back on her outside because she just keeps nipping at me.)
I wait at least 30 seconds before I open the door, trying to look for calming signals. If she comes right back at me I don't say anything, I just go back inside.
That seems to be helping but I have only just started doing it. And there are still those times, like last night when I thought we were just going out for a potty break so I was in the middle of the yard with nothing but a flashlight and she decided she wanted to play. Ouch.
I think I am doing all the right things. We do a lot of mini training sessions throughout the day, not just on stop but on all the other obedience things. I am hoping it is just that she is older, at 15 months so it is more of a habit, and that she is new to us, and that I will, eventually be able to wander around the yard without getting a new collection of bruises.
The hardest thing, of course, is to stay calm when she is nipping. I turn my side to her. I keep my hands and arms close to my chest. I try moving into her space (which works if can back her against a wall.) I practice saying "stop" in a calm, low voice when I am alone in the house. I remind myself that nothing good, like a great relationship with a wonderful dog, comes without a lot of hard work. But still . . .I am covered in bruises and hubby and I have both lost multiple articles of clothing due to her grabbing and ripping them.
I've read tons of the posts here on the forum about similar issues so, like I said, I think I'm doing all the right things and it is just a matter of time and repetition. I just needed to vent among people who would understand and support me.
Thanks for reading this long post.
she sounds like a great girl, well despite the nipping:)
What I would do is have a couple of toys she enjoys, IN the house, and I would be teaching her to "go get her toy" before she goes out, have her carrying it WITH her out the door, even potty breaks,,"get your toy" (tuggie, whatever it may be)..
Keeping things in her mouth keeps her mouth off you, as your finding out,,now it's just trying to teach her to carry something those times she's in high gear until she calms down.. Just my 2 cents:)
She honestly is an absolute sweetie except for when this switch flips in her and she goes bonkers on us. Sigh. Pretty soon all the inside toys are going to be outside toys because once she gets one in her mouth I just open the door and hope she'll go do all her running outside and forget to bite me. Sigh.
Tonight I focused on staying near the patio door and stepping back inside and closing the door. I left the door closed until she finally put herself into a down and a settle. It took 3 times before she finally went off and pooped and came in calmly. Another 1,000 times and we ought to be golden, right?:D
LOL yep jus t keep doing what your doing:)
you have my full support
your dog is so beautiful!!!
I also have a beautiful rescue, Amber and she is 2 years old now. She was nipping when she was a puppy, but I "nipped this habit" right then. You have to be very persistant and never let her put her teeth on you (just say NOOO and stop playing with her). She will get it. You have her for only a month...
I have mine from the puppy and she is still jumping on me when I come home from work...
Good Luck with your doggie,
Beautiful girl and so great of you to invite her into your home!
Have you tried "the dramatic ignore" at all? I took a class this summer and that is what we did for jumping - it is similar to the waiting thing but you really play up the turn and look away, cross your arms over your chest - it is a very obvious ignore. It doesn't involve any verbal that can ramp up, or touching, which also can ramp up. I like it and it works well.
Thank you all for listening and for the support. It is helpful and comforting to be able to share here, with others who understand the breed and so many who understand working with rescues.
Whoever had this dog before did all the right socializing except for the nipping. I just want to shake them and tell them how wrong it is except that it this behavior that likely got her dumped at the side of the road and the reason I got her so I'm okay with that. :) I love this dog so much already and it has only been a month.
JeanKBBMMMAAN, the dramatic ignore sounds intriguing. I can't turn my back on her when she is riled up because she goes for my legs. (I'm thinking about buying some shin guards to put on when we go outside.) Last night she got the tender skin of my stomach and I have a huge bruise there this morning.
But what I like about your explanation is the non-verbal, non-touching thing. I find that non-verbal works really well with Zoey. (I know, dogs are more visual.) My trainer can stop Zoey in a heartbeat with a stare. I haven't mastered that yet. But removing myself from her space without saying a word seems to be working. Hubby and I both did that this morning and she got it out of her system.
JeanKBBMMMAAN, I'm not sure but you might have been the person who posted a video some time back about capturing calmness. If so, thank you. (And if it wasn't you, thank you to whomever did. I've been reading hundreds of posts here to educate myself.) That video started me on the path of non-verbal work with Zoey. I also just got the Crate Games video and we did our first session of that yesterday. Zoey did great and I managed to keep my mouth shut for an hour. Huge feat for both of us. :)
Since my voice tends to go up when I speak, I find it too easy to ramp Zoey up. I am practicing speaking slower which tends to come out lower.
I'm also going to make a tab (trainer's suggestion) so I can more easily grab her for timeouts.
I second keeping a toy in her mouth. Does she like balls? My Tasha walks around with a Kong ball all the time. It has saved my puppy Ivan more than once because with the ball in there she can't nip him. LOL :)
Thanks everyone. Yes, she likes balls and stuffies and anything she can put in her mouth. We have a basket right by the back door and she is pretty good already about grabbing a toy when she first goes out and keeping it in her mouth. I have to train ME to have an extra one on me all the time so that when I go out to scoop up poop and she comes for me (she always wants to nip and zoom after a poop) that I am ready for her.
The time outs are working so that's a start. Patience and repetition, I know. But man, those bruises. :)
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