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Old 12-18-2012, 09:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Jekyll & Hyde puppy

So our 3 month old is a sweetheart. Very affectionate and full of energy. I'd say she's as mouthy as any GSD puppy judging by what I read on these forums. But sometimes she flips this switch where she starts biting pretty hard and will growl and jump around. At this point it's still just her playing as her tail is wagging and you can typically snap her out of it as soon as you distract her with something else (like rustling the treat bag and working on obedience/tricks). She just likes to roughhouse.

But when she persists then we give her a timeout and that's where things get dicey. When she knows she's about to get a timeout and I go to pick her up she tenses, the lips curl back, she growls deeply, and she starts giving me these sharp warning nips on my hands and neck while I'm carrying her. She doesn't really bite hard or try to hurt me, but she's definitely not happy about what's happening, and she's clearly not playing at that point.

As soon as we put her in her timeout spot, which is a small playpen, she's right back to being very submissive and affectionate (along with a good amount of crying and whining). After we leave her there for a few minutes we pull her out and she's just fine.

She only does this with me and my girlfriend. We have family who come over during the day to let her out and play with her and when people come over they never get this. She does get mouthy but nothing more than you'd expect from a puppy. She saves all of her hard biting and this snarling stuff for us.

We've had some luck so far with the "OFF" command which usually curtails her a bit when we can tell she's going to start getting rough and we're able to redirect her attention to a toy or tricks for treats. And I'm assuming she does it out of boredom/frustration because she typically gets into this "mode" when we're not paying attention to her or it's been a while between walks or playing in the yard.

I just want to make sure this is normal behavior and not some kind of mental thing. The hard biting is something we're hoping she'll outgrow as we continue to work with her and as she gets older but this vicious snarling/biting that she does as we take her to a timeout is unacceptable and if she continues to do it as she gets older it could be very dangerous.

Any advice/responses would be appreciated!

Last edited by PorkandBeans; 12-18-2012 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yikes, a lot of views and no replies.

I guess I should also mention she's not aggressive towards other dogs or people/strangers. She doesn't guard her food or toys at all and is generally very sweet until she flips that switch and starts getting snappy at us.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PorkandBeans View Post
So our 3 month old is a sweetheart. Very affectionate and full of energy. I'd say she's as mouthy as any GSD puppy judging by what I read on these forums. But sometimes she flips this switch where she starts biting pretty hard and will growl and jump around. At this point it's still just her playing as her tail is wagging and you can typically snap her out of it as soon as you distract her with something else (like rustling the treat bag and working on obedience/tricks). She just likes to roughhouse.

But when she persists then we give her a timeout and that's where things get dicey. When she knows she's about to get a timeout and I go to pick her up she tenses, the lips curl back, she growls deeply, and she starts giving me these sharp warning nips on my hands and neck while I'm carrying her. She doesn't really bite hard or try to hurt me, but she's definitely not happy about what's happening, and she's clearly not playing at that point.

As soon as we put her in her timeout spot, which is a small playpen, she's right back to being very submissive and affectionate (along with a good amount of crying and whining). After we leave her there for a few minutes we pull her out and she's just fine.

She only does this with me and my girlfriend. We have family who come over during the day to let her out and play with her and when people come over they never get this. She does get mouthy but nothing more than you'd expect from a puppy. She saves all of her hard biting and this snarling stuff for us.

We've had some luck so far with the "OFF" command which usually curtails her a bit when we can tell she's going to start getting rough and we're able to redirect her attention to a toy or tricks for treats. And I'm assuming she does it out of boredom/frustration because she typically gets into this "mode" when we're not paying attention to her or it's been a while between walks or playing in the yard.

I just want to make sure this is normal behavior and not some kind of mental thing. The hard biting is something we're hoping she'll outgrow as we continue to work with her and as she gets older but this vicious snarling/biting that she does as we take her to a timeout is unacceptable and if she continues to do it as she gets older it could be very dangerous.

Any advice/responses would be appreciated!

I would suggest no more picking her up and carrying her. Keep a leash on her and just walk her to the play pen for her time out if you need to.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It is typical for puppies to play with the biting, and you escalate it by picking her up and taking her to the pen.
Have you read about how to correct the issue? Redirection onto a toy, start playing tug with the toy, if she bites you, YELP (YIPE!!!) and leave?
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It is typical for puppies to play with the biting, and you escalate it by picking her up and taking her to the pen.
Have you read about how to correct the issue? Redirection onto a toy, start playing tug with the toy, if she bites you, YELP (YIPE!!!) and leave?
Like I mentioned we do try to redirect to toys or tricks for treats but sometimes she's just dead set on roughhousing and she'll literally skirt around toys just to get to hands or feet and that's when she gets a timeout.

The yelping and/or getting up to leave just gets her more wound up and results in getting your pants and socks attacked.

I more or less just want to make sure this lip curling and snarling and snapping is just a result of her reaction to getting picked up while being too excited and not some kind of underlying issue. I realize puppies will be puppies and the biting is just a part of it. It's this tense aggression she shows when being picked up for a timeout that bothers me. I can pick her up any other time with no problems, but when she knows she's going to a timeout it gets a little sketchy.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I too would stop picking her up in this situation. You can get a short leash (3 or 4 feet) so that in the house its not this huge long thing thats getting in the way. Thats what I use with Lulu. She is also 3 months. Once she did the lip snarl snappy thing but only once. I didnt really correct the behavior I just made sure she started getting more exercise. Thats normally when she amps it up the most. After 3 days of not enough work outs due to illness she was REALLY begging for some work.. She needed to run it out. Seems to have really helped since she hasnt done it again.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Remember, as she gets older her exercise needs will increase. Whereas you might think she is getting enough exercise she is like a soda bottle shaken up. Sometimes she just has to explode!
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Remember, as she gets older her exercise needs will increase. Whereas you might think she is getting enough exercise she is like a soda bottle shaken up. Sometimes she just has to explode!
Any recommended amount for a 3 month old or does it vary too much depending on the dog? She gets two 30-45 minute walks a day plus we run around in the yard for a while every day too.

I'd like to take her running with me to really tucker her out but I read on here that's really not a good idea for at least another few months.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PorkandBeans View Post
Any recommended amount for a 3 month old or does it vary too much depending on the dog? She gets two 30-45 minute walks a day plus we run around in the yard for a while every day too.

I'd like to take her running with me to really tucker her out but I read on here that's really not a good idea for at least another few months.
It really depends on the dog. It is difficult to put a time limit on it. It's just critical that you know your pup. I can tucker my GSD out before I'm tired. My Lacy (aka Crack Puppy) has caused me to lose 11 pounds in the last 3 months. He a year old now and his exercise needs have doubled.

Running (with you) on a hard surface or a packed surface can have potential adverse reactions on your pup's joints. Find a softer area and maybe finish your run with your pup.

Mind games (do a search on the forum) can help tire her out too.

For me...in my opinion..when I see a new unwanted behavior creep up on my puppy (or dog) I have to question if I am doing enough with my dog, before I try to fix the behavior. It could be my pup (or dog) letting me know that I'm just not doing enough! By increasing the amount of exercise my young dog is needing, the initial unwanted behavior goes away.
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The lip curl and growl would bother me. You have to let her know that is unacceptable. Period. You are alpha. My opinion would be to hold her down on the ground and get her to be submissive to you as soon as that lip curls. She is showing aggression and could escalate as she gets older. I'm not like most peeps on here but I will not allow any of my dogs to show that type of behavior without some sort of immediate reprimand.
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