Demand Mouthing / Biting - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2017, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Demand Mouthing / Biting

Not sure if my title is the best or if that is even a thing, lol, but it's the best I could come up with.

Sorry in advance for the length of this post but I have read a ton of the biting posts out there and have tried a lot but still have some questions.

Lexi is our first GSD and she is a fantastic puppy (just shy of 6 months old). She has definitely made me fall in love with the breed and I already know we will have more GSD's in the future. In general she is super well behaved. I feel spoiled with how calm she is. Does well in her crate, is an awesome car rider (which is a great thing since we travel full time in an RV).

When we picked her up at 8 weeks old she did the normal puppy biting and we redirected to toys, and bones, etc. and it worked pretty well. We quickly learned that she won't give up on a fight or maybe she percieves it as play. But if you say "eh", "no", "ouch" or any of that she always chomped down harder. If you pushed her off, she came right back twice as hard. If we pinched her gums on her teeth, she would come back twice as hard...etc. But the redirect to a toy worked well.

However now the biting has changed a bit. She doesn't chomp down as hard, and her teeth are starting to become her adult teeth (thankfully those puppy pinchers are horrible) but she is almost using biting to demand something. I.e. there are times when she wants attention, or wants to be played with and she will come up and grab your arm or hand with her teeth. Usually not a ton of pressure but you definitely feel it. Furthermore when she comes to get our attention like that she won't take a redirect. I can push a toy in her mouth and she ignores it and goes right back for your arm. And if you continue to ignore her, or push her away she comes back harder.

I used to "walk away" and show her if she was like that I would ignore her, but now she just comes up to wherever you move to and comes at you (again we travel full time in an RV so space is limited).

So lately when she gets really pushy / demanding like this, the only thing I can do is put her in her crate and give her 20 mins or so to cool off, and then when she comes out play with her and give her some attention. However I don't want the crate to feel like a punishment.

I did just get a pinch collar, based on some of the things I was reading in the forum. I mainly got this for walks, again since we travel in an RV, I don't have a fenced yard for her so every potty time is a walk. And while she walks pretty well in the morning and afternoon, in the afternoons she just turns her brain off...and goes for every distraction possible (especially birds) and a nap on the leash with the flat collar does nothing to get her attention. The stoping and just standing there until she chills out thing worked well for awhile but doesn't anymore. So anyways that isn't really about this post other then we got a pinch collar.

Today when she came up to me and did her demand bite, I pulled the pinch collar and she just went to biting me harder.

I first tried just a snap of the pinch collar, but she didn't stop biting at all. I then tried to keep pressure on until she stopped. After a short bit she got the picture, stopped biting me and sat down. As soon as she stopped biting I released pressure. Then once the pressure had been off the collar for a few seconds she came right back and bit harder then before.

So I am just running out of things to try.

Before anyone asks here is where we are excercise:
- I have another post about this but she has a limp due to what appears to be a sprain and we are limiting activity currently (no running or jumping). So that is out
- We do go on multiple walks per day. How long they are is limited by where we are sometimes and where we are able to walk. She seems to find the walks sometimes boring to be honest.
- We play a decent amount of tug
- We do multiple training sessions per day.

The biting is definitely worse when we are very inactive (i.e. both my wife and I had horrible colds last week and we know we gave her a sub optimal amount of activity, we just couldn't do much) and she was super bitey, but even when we give her enough activity that she is just sacking out tired, she gets bitey as described.

Thanks in advance for any help.

First time GSD owner with a brand new puppy - Lexi
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 09:56 AM
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What would her mother do? Not tolerate with a strong correction.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 10:11 AM
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It looks like you already know part of the problem. She is bored and wants something to do. It is hard when you don't feel good or she needs to recover from an injury. You are on the right track with the collar, I think. It will take a little while for her to learn that you mean business. Just a simple steady discomfort until she gives loosing your temper and yanking or gentle nagging. 

Your pup is still very young and actually moving into her adolescence. She will be testing limits and experimenting. With maturity it does get better. Be careful of getting frustrated and angry since another fear period might be coming up in the next few months. With calm clear consequences and not ever letting her practice what you don't accept, one day you'll look back and wonder where the naughty puppy went and how you ended up with a mature level headed companion.

Maybe you could start some teaching tricks and doing nose work. Have your pup "Hide Your Eyes" (what we call it in my house) in your bathroom. Then hide a scent. In my house we use coffee since my hubby likes to hide my cup. In competition they use scents like clove

Even in an RV this could be a nice little work out. Especially if your dog Hides Your Eyes, outside while you put your scent hide inside, or vice-versa.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ausdland View Post
What would her mother do? Not tolerate with a strong correction.
What type of corrections do you find work well?

First time GSD owner with a brand new puppy - Lexi
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, some really good info there.

She loves scent work and we have begun some of that. She is having a tummy issue this week (diaharrea - vet appt this afternoon for it), so I stopped doing scent work as I am unsure of a treat that is smelly enough for a dog new to scent work like herself to easily pick up, while still being easy on her tummy.

But we will definitely continue this as her stomach settles.

First time GSD owner with a brand new puppy - Lexi
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 02:33 PM
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I guess I am much more tolerant of that than others, as long as it's a soft mouth and gentle. I wouldn't do a hard correction for this behavior. It just doesn't bother me, as long as it's gentle. My dogs put soft mouths on each other all the time, and there's a lot of affection in it.

I've had several dogs who would gently take my hand to get my attention. My heart dog used to only do it when there was something important. Late in his life, he did it to get me to follow him out to a low-set songbird nest with chicks that had just hatched. He didn't want me to miss seeing the chicks. We sat and watched them together a long time, leaning against each other peacefully in the garden, and it remains a very special memory. I'd have missed that moment with him if he hadn't known how to ask me to follow him outside.

I feel like when dogs pester owners in annoying ways, it is usually just a bored dog -- you're interesting, and they want to interact. They just need a good way to know how to do that. If the mouth on you bothers you, give the dog a replacement behavior to ask for your attention. My foster dogs are all taught to come up and sit next to me when they want attention (instead of jumping, pawing, etc.)--we reward that behavior very consistently. It becomes their "notice me" behavior. It's totally adorable when I don't react fast enough and they get up, sit down, get up, sit down, and finally wiggle the butt on the floor to get me to see them doing the right thing for attention.
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Last edited by Magwart; 05-24-2017 at 02:41 PM.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Good info as well.

Sometimes the bite is gentler then others. My big issue is the demand factor. Like she might come up and that initial bite may be gentle, and you are right it is a "come play with me" type of thing. And I definitely enjoy having a dog that wants my attention and I don't even have a problem with a dog basically asking "is now a good time".

My issue is that if I ignore her, or tell her know "basically saying, sorry not a good time" she comes back even more. More demanding like a "no do what I want now" type of attitude and with each demand her biting does become harder to where it is a problem.

But mainly I don't want her to think she can interrupt me and get her way anytime. We work from home so we have many moments with us throughout the day, we have a ton of play breaks and attention time for her. But she needs to know when she comes up to me (such as when I am on the computer) and asks for some of my time, that if I say no she needs to move on to something else.

That is what I guess I am trying to achieve.

First time GSD owner with a brand new puppy - Lexi
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 03:29 PM
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Have you tried teaching the No Bite command?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Just wanted to update people here. Making some headway. Based on reading more threads here, and some youtube videos, and trial and error, I have come up with my own mash up of ideas that seems to be doing the trick.

In all honesty the thing I am most frustrated at is myself, that I didn't do this a month or so ago.

So I thought I would share so that others can potentially benefit from the same (or at least try it).

I've done my best to break down the components on why she does this. And I have come up with a few separate reasons.
1.) To get our attention
2.) To play....she looks at our hands as the ultimate game of tug. Which is why I think she has stopped taking redirection to toys recently, our hands are more fun.

I don't mind #1 as much, but unfortunately, I think many times when the initial reason is #1, it turns into #2 when we pull away.

So I have now started the no bite command. I started by putting high value treats in my hand, showing her and closing my hand. When she started to bite, paw and scratch at my hand I would say "no bite" and then waiting until she stopped biting and trying to open my hand and then I would let her have a treat from the enclosed hand.

Once she had this down, I did the hard part. I waited until she grabbed my hand again, gave the "no bite" command and then rather then pulling it out of her mouth, or pushing her away (or anything she would see as a game) I just let my hand go limp. I will say, this hurt like ****, she pulled and twisted, and was trying to play her favorite game of human tug. But after about 30 seconds (felt longer since it was my hand) she gave up. Note before if I said no, and pulled my hand away, we could go back and forth trying to get her to stop biting for much longer then that.

As soon as she let go I gave her a "YES" (or whatever your positive release command is) and gave her a treat, then I pulled out a toy and waved it around like crazy so she saw the tug was a much more fun toy then my hand. (previously I would just push a toy in her mouth, or hand her a toy....obviously I was not making the toy that I redirected her to more exciting then my hand).

The next time she tried we did the same thing but she bit much less before giving up.

We have only been doing this for about 2 days now, and she hasn't stopped mouthing me, but she gives up much more quickly. I also wished from day one that I had been better about making what I redirected to "Exciting" Every thing you read says to re-direct, which we did. But as a newb I guess I didn't pick up on the fact that I had to make the redirect item SUPER exciting and just giving her a toy and expecting her to find it super fun was a mistake....I had to make it fun for her.

We are newly into this so I don't want to say this is solved yet, but I am happy with the headway. I'll continue to keep you updated.

First time GSD owner with a brand new puppy - Lexi
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-10-2017, 04:43 PM
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My dog did this the first month or so I brought her home. She had ZERO manners or concept of personal space. If she wanted something, she grabbed it. If she wanted attention/??? she would nip me!

Remember, why does the dog do this? To get something! So do not give the thing she wants when she bites. You have to be quiet, not move, etc. Make it neutral. Yes, it is annoying!

I immediately worked on the "Sit" command, as well as working on impulse control. This way, I didn't just go "no you can't do that", which stimulates the GSDs creative side...I gave her something to DO instead.

Within weeks she would sit instead of bite me. It was a process, but it ended up working.
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