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Old 01-01-2013, 11:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Nipping my 4 year old

Hello,

I have a 3 month old beautiful, energetic, female Dobie. She bites and chews at everything she can get to, which is kind of fine because I know that is natural for them at this age while they teeth. I also have a variety of chew toys for her. I try different ways to stop her from biting me like giving her a chew toy when she nips, using apple cider repellents, stern voices, etc. But what bothers me is, she keeps nipping at my 4 year old nephew. She goes after him the moment she sees him and has nipped him many times on the hands, face, etc. When I say a stern "Ah-Ah" whenever she nips him, I can see that she feels bad about it by her body language, but she goes back to doing it within the next few seconds (the same even if I use repellents).
If i'm not in the same room and she gets to him first, she'll constantly keep jumping on him and trying to nip him if she can, till I rush into the room.

I think she does NOT mean any harm and just sees him as a playmate or something on those lines, but it can get exasperating constantly trying to pry her away from him. Her ears perk up even if she hears him coming down the stairs and runs towards him when she sees him. I have also tried to keep my nephew still and stop him from moving too much when she is around, but it does not help much.

How do I stop her from going after my nephew. Any help would be appreciated. I love my Dobie and I hope to find the best solution without traumatizing her.

Thanks,
Jacob
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd recommend finding a trainer as soon as possible. It is very difficult to give advice to someone over the internet and be able to accurately judge the situation and your training abilities. Please seek a professional's guidance before the puppy gets bigger.

Most puppy obedience classes will cover 'nipping', play biting, manners etc.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Get her into a puppy class asap and they will train you to train her. It's also good for her socialization.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Training is #1 here. Classes or personal trainer. Since she is remorseful, it means she just hasn't learned what is too much and what isn't. Other dogs are great for teaching them this, so arranging play dates with a mature dog that is used to dealing with puppies would be a good idea. Also, have you tried yiping? When my girl was young she had the same issue with not understanding what was too much with the biting. I starting giving high pitched yipes whenever she nipped or bit too hard. This communicated to her very effectively and she became so startled every time I yiped that she was scared to bite too hard and became gentle in no time. Just a thought. Also, she needs to be on a leash connected to you at all times when there is a young one in the house until she is more mature. She can learn from older children or adults, its not safe for the child for her to learn from him.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Classes are really the best option. A trainer can see what you are doing and how you are doing it and help you provide guidance. I've found that sometimes it's the subtle things that help my dog "get" what I'm saying.

There may be some things you could do at home to discourage the behavior. Having your nephew tell the dog NO! in a firm voice and turn away might help. If she knows sit or down only having him approach her when she's in those positions may help. Nephew backs away if she gets out of the position so she only gets to "play" if she's calmer. This means she's leashed or something to you for the interactions.

The dog is really young and at that age a 12 week old puppy and a 4 year old just may need to be separated for a while until you can teach the puppy not to bite.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You do need a trainer, sooner than later.
- in the meantime, I would loop 2 five foot leashes together and tie it around your waist, to control Bella's complete house movements 100% of time
- your pup should never have the previlage of slack supervision now (given recent history, with 4 year old child present), until totally cured of nipping

Bad habits get increasing more difficult to solve, once left to repeat & repeat.
- biting a childs face, is totally unacceptable
Here is some more similar reading material: 4 month old puppy freaked out
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yes, like said above I would not let the dog free roam the house at all. Leashed or crated at all times.
And find a professional.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Saroshj View Post
...She goes after him the moment she sees him and has nipped him many times on the hands, face, etc. When I say a stern "Ah-Ah" whenever she nips him, I can see that she feels bad about it by her body language, but she goes back to doing it within the next few seconds (the same even if I use repellents)...
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Originally Posted by JennZilla View Post
..Since she is remorseful, it means she just hasn't learned what is too much and what isn't...
Hi Jacob, sorry to hear you're having some troubles with your pup and the kiddo.

I pulled out these two snippets above, as a springboard for comments about a common misconception people often have, about dog behavior.

You say you "know" she "feels bad" and this other poster uses the word "remorseful," but really...she is just a puppy and this is not really how dog brains work.

I guess I would ask you why you feel she "feels bad"? Does she slink or cower? Lower her head? Curve sideways and move off a bit? Stop making eye contact?

All these are appeasement, or "calming" gestures--part of dog body language and a way to let you know she feels stressed and would like you to back off with whatever you're doing that makes her feel stressed.

It's NOT that she is experiencing the human emotions of shame or remorse--she's a baby dog and she is reacting to your body language, your tone of voice, and your verbal correction.

Think about it--the very fact that she continues to go right back at the kid demonstrates she just doesn't get it, yet.

I highly recommend this book, for reading her canine signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas.

It's only about ten bucks, is an easy read, packed with great info and great photos to demonstrate the ideas in the book, and worth its weight in gold, truly.



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Yes, like said above I would not let the dog free roam the house at all. Leashed or crated at all times.
And find a professional.
Yep. You said she goes after kiddo when she first hears him on the stairs. Since that behavior is highly predictable--that's the prime opportunity for you to be proactive and totally prevent it.

Here's a free web article you might find useful, as well:

Bite Inhibition Article
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You say you "know" she "feels bad" and this other poster uses the word "remorseful," but really...she is just a puppy and this is not really how dog brains work.
I would only like to say, that it has been "common knowledge" that dogs do not feel guilt for a long time. However, trainers and scientists are currently doing studies that are finding that old train of thought may not be true. In particular with their emotions.. in fact they may feel more emotions than humans can even comprehend. Humans have self reasoning, so if we feel hurt or sad we tell ourselves to power through it or find other ways to distract ourselves from that feeling. Dogs cannot do this, they feel the full force of whatever emotion they are dealing with and have no outlet other than to look to a human to soothe them. I do believe we over humanize dog behavior, but I also think we are down playing their capacity to feel specific emotions. Yes, they do show "appeasing behavior" that we can wrongfully associate with guilt, but they had to recognize the need to show those signs to begin with.

My opinion is neither of us are wrong here. Lets just not be closed minded about our furry friends.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I would only like to say, that it has been "common knowledge" that dogs do not feel guilt for a long time. However, trainers and scientists are currently doing studies that are finding that old train of thought may not be true. In particular with their emotions.. in fact they may feel more emotions than humans can even comprehend. Humans have self reasoning, so if we feel hurt or sad we tell ourselves to power through it or find other ways to distract ourselves from that feeling. Dogs cannot do this, they feel the full force of whatever emotion they are dealing with and have no outlet other than to look to a human to soothe them. I do believe we over humanize dog behavior, but I also think we are down playing their capacity to feel specific emotions. Yes, they do show "appeasing behavior" that we can wrongfully associate with guilt, but they had to recognize the need to show those signs to begin with.

My opinion is neither of us are wrong here. Lets just not be closed minded about our furry friends.
Yeah, most knowledgeable, experienced folks do not need scientists to tell them dogs have a wide range of emotions. I'm not sure what you're referencing, about being "close-minded."

However, one, I did not say you were "wrong," per se, only that humans tend to misinterpret dog actions thru the filter of human emotions--and that is not really the way dogs think.

In the context of this discussion, my money is on the baby puppy not understanding what is going on, period, and it's really hard to feel "remorseful" for something you've done "wrong," when you don't know it's "wrong," nor do you know the "right" action that is expected of you.

From the few posts of yours I've happened across it seems as though you're accustomed to speaking to general-public audiences, who know less about dogs than you do.

To give you the cliff's notes version, since you're new--the knowledge base here (collectively) in this community is quite advanced and perhaps...trying to think of a polite way to say this...but maybe let some of them go by, don't swing at everything, and just listen, you know?

Hey, totally up to you.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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To give you the cliff's notes version, since you're new--

Lol, I'm not new. I've been a member since 2009. I only drop by here when I have questions that I appreciate to be answered by fellow dobe owners. As of why I have been here the past few days- well, I broke my foot so I'm passing time while I recover.

I wasn't directing the close minded thing at you by the way. I know you are already defensive about our previous conversations- as am I. So we aren't going to be very understanding of each other.. but I guarantee that wasn't mean spirited. I am just interested in being constructive to peoples questions.

Yes, I do usually speak to those who know less about dogs. But I am no noob to be shrugged off. I've been a vet tech (my last tech job was emergency at tanasbourne veterinary emergency in beaverton, OR) for 5 years. I worked for 2 years at cardiology northwest with Dr. Wood and Dr. Atkinson. At that time I was just an assistant/office manager, but I was included in ALL the cardio seminars and assisted in echoing and getting EKG's on many a doberman, including doberman heart screening clinics hosted by the Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher club. So although I do not know everything (as none of us do), my knowledge base is nothing to sneeze at.

I hope we can put this all behind us, and just move on to answer questions and have constructive conversations. That is the point of this forum, correct?
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:03 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Lol, I'm not new. I've been a member since 2009. I only drop by here when I have questions that I appreciate to be answered by fellow dobe owners. As of why I have been here the past few days- well, I broke my foot so I'm passing time while I recover.

I wasn't directing the close minded thing at you by the way. I know you are already defensive about our previous conversations- as am I. So we aren't going to be very understanding of each other.. but I guarantee that wasn't mean spirited. I am just interested in being constructive to peoples questions.

Yes, I do usually speak to those who know less about dogs. But I am no noob to be shrugged off. I've been a vet tech (my last tech job was emergency at tanasbourne veterinary emergency in beaverton, OR) for 5 years. I worked for 2 years at cardiology northwest with Dr. Wood and Dr. Atkinson. At that time I was just an assistant/office manager, but I was included in ALL the cardio seminars and assisted in echoing and getting EKG's on many a doberman, including doberman heart screening clinics hosted by the Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher club. So although I do not know everything (as none of us do), my knowledge base is nothing to sneeze at.

I hope we can put this all behind us, as just move on to answer questions and have constructive conversations. That is the point of this forum, correct?
Erm, could you explain to me again why I'm supposed to be feeling "defensive"?

'Cause I missed that. I will try to summon the proper emotion, though, if it helps

I'm sorry you felt the need to resume'-read. I don't feel a reciprocal need, sorry, even if it's a bit tempting now.

My bad, on assuming you were a new member here.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:10 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Erm, could you explain to me again why I'm supposed to be feeling "defensive"?

'Cause I missed that. I will try to summon the proper emotion, though, if it helps

I'm sorry you felt the need to resume'-read. I don't feel a reciprocal need, sorry, even if it's a bit tempting now.

My bad, on assuming you were a new member here.
*sigh* I'm not trying to win here. Just trying to come to an understanding with you... but I suppose that is just not in the stars, no matter how hard I try. So, I'm not going to anymore.

Anyway, BACK to the original point of this thread...

Yes the pup doesn't know what it is doing wrong, but it knows it is doing something wrong. So OP, you need to mark the bad behavior right when it happens. Timing is important. You can find whatever method is effective to mark the behavior. Like I said, yiping was perfect for my girl to understand.

EDIT: I STILL stand by my ^^^^ statement, despite RedFawn's constant need to be right. The only reason a pup will show appeasing behavior is because it knows it did something wrong, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT DISCOVERS IT IS WRONG. I.e. The owners body language, vocals ect. We are saying the same thing. But if you only choose to see things one way, a person will think there is only one way to be right.. which is not truth.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:17 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JennZilla View Post
*sigh* I'm not trying to win here. Just trying to come to an understanding with you... but I suppose that is just not in the stars, no matter how hard I try. So, I'm not going to anymore.

Anyway, BACK to the original point of this thread...

Yes the pup doesn't know what it is doing wrong, but it knows it is doing something wrong. So OP, you need to mark the bad behavior right when it happens. Timing is important. You can find whatever method is effective to mark the behavior. Like I said, yiping was perfect for my girl to understand.
Bold mine.

No. See, that is the very point.

We are not there. We can't see the pup's body language, nor the timing of everything. So we in NO WAY have enough information to assume the pup "knows it is doing something wrong."

The pup may be--and likely, very likely is--just responding to the OP's body language and verbal tone, with little to no understanding of why the human is displeased.

Mouthing, bitey face and nipping is FUN and NATURAL to puppies and dogs. It is up to humans to teach and guide to a more appropriate greeting and play behavior, ones that are socially acceptable to humans.

They don't "know" it is "wrong," and there's no point in arguing this to ad nauseum. The OP can read the recommended material, consult a good trainer, and decide for themselves, with professional guidance, what is truly going on, in their particular situation, and hopefully use those good resources to solve the issue.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the informative replies!! I do plan to have my puppy trained professionally. I'm waiting for her next set of shots in 2 weeks, after which her Vet says, she can socialize.
I also went ahead and purchased the DVD by Turid Rugaas. She does have a crate and I intend to crate her a little more. Will keep trying...
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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My guess would be the puppy knows that "Mama" is mad, versus "did something wrong".

Crating is good, but make the crate a safe and fun place! I think that other members have in the past referenced looking up "crate games" on YouTube to get an idea of ways to make this happen. I definitely agree that if Bella ought to be leashed, even inside, to head off behaviors that aren't desirable. The longer she can practice them, the longer she'll be inclined to repeat them.

Turid Rugaas is great, enjoy your DVD! ^^
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Here's a novel idea...puppies are notorious for treating children (the younger and smaller the more likely this is to happen) as if they were other puppies--not humans.

My recommendation would be to either put the puppy or the nephew in an ex-pen or crate so that basically aren't interacting at this stage of their lives. In the meanwhile you can train (and I realy strongly recommend that you train the puppy and don't go the route of having someone train the puppy for you) the puppy in one or several classes and teach your nephew how to interact with dogs so that they don't play as if the kid was another puppy.

And I'll vote with the folks that suggest that the dog is responding to your attitude and not that it knows it's done something wrong. It really isn't how dogs minds work.

Take the easy way out until the puppy is older and has the foundations of trained behavior and the nephew is older and less likely to look and act like a litter mate (believe me--I know what 4 year old kids act like). As far as I'm concerned they both need training--puppy and child.

And I'd never, ever be giving the run of the house to a three month old puppy--I didn't do that even with my very first Dobe in 1959--he was attached to my by a leash so that I knew where he was and what he was doing at all times.

Good luck and I'll also say that even with that first dog when friends with small kids came over they were not allowed to play with the puppy--it's a recipe for disaster. By the time he was 6 months old he had a rock solid sit, down and stay and was much less fun for a small child to play with--dogs, especially young, untrained dogs are attractive hazards to small kids--just like swimming pools are.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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My recommendation would be to either put the puppy or the nephew in an ex-pen or crate so that basically aren't interacting at this stage of their lives.

I agree with this recommendation. My German Shepherd pup was (is!) also a bit of a nipper, and I wanted to socialize him when he was young to children. I had all the neighborhood kids come over from the time I got him, and as he got bigger he started acting way too rough with them. So I gated him in the living room, and had the young children stand right at the gate and give him treats when he calmly sat. It protected them, but also let Ruki see that children are good and hand out snacks.
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