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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Muzzle Grab to Prevent Biting

Hello all! My first time posting but I have been following this page for a while since finding out I am getting a pup from the breeder.
Got my first doberman almost two weeks ago... it's been a long two weeks lol. He is 11 weeks old.
I feel like everything I try to stop him from biting while playing fails. I've tried to replace my hand with a toy, lasts two seconds. I've tried squealing, densest phase him. I've tried standing and turning my back to him and most of the time that just results in an a$$ nip. So I've been reading some posts on here and yesterday I tried the muzzle grip, and saying loudly "no bite". It seemed to work almost immediately and now he's a bit of a lighter biter or almost barely bites. EXCEPT, now I feel like he has lost respect for me, does this sound crazy? We made an amazing amount of progress with potty and crate training and since I muzzle gripped him he HAS NOT listened to a word I said. He will piss in the house after being outside, he will not "come here" etc. Is this normal.
Side note: I dont know who the dominant one, he seems to listen to the person who he spends most of the day with. When I take care of him he's my best friend, when my husband takes him to work during the day he's his best friend.

I dont want him to 'fear me' because I tried the muzzle grip/used force, but I also know the biting gets worse and I have scratches and bruises everywhere. I dont wat him to become aggressive either when older becaus eof force I use. Anyone can give advice? And input on why now he is acting out cuz of the muzzle grip? I tried to google and now all I can find is why muzzle grips are not a good form of correcting biting...
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 11:33 AM
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Have you spoken to your breeder? What do they say?
Just remember that he is very much a baby - so talking about dominance and respect is a little premature. Keep using the toy and redirecting him - he will eventually get it. As far as the potty training, he is a baby. Supervision is key - there is a lot of good advice on here about potty training.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 11:33 AM
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Your puppy is 11 weeks old...he's a baby! He's also a working breed that is bred to use his mouth. The key is that you need to be CONSISTENT, and PATIENT, and you haven't at all had time to do that yet. There's zero chance he's "lost respect for you" - again, continue to remind yourself that he's a baby. Keep repeating this a LOT. A LOT! You'll get through this. Now, do NOT be grabbing his muzzle, or physically disciplining him...all that's going to do is cause him to start distrusting or fearing you. If you're grabbing and intimidating him, you're creating a pup that isn't sure what's expected of him, and is just really likely to "shut down", not a puppy who is learning what you expect of him and is excited and eager to learn.

There isn't a lot that's helpful if you have the mindset of "dominance" - dogs don't think that way. They think about what works for them...what earns them what they want and find valuable. People mistake this for "dominance" in that what we see as "dominant" is really just - who has the first priority access to a valued resource? Who gets food first? Who gets the best spot on the couch? It's really fluid and changes from day to day amongst a group of dogs in a home, sometimes. As humans, we can totally harness this - DOGS DO WHAT WORKS. If we reward the things we like with what dogs like and want, we get the behaviors WE like! If you reward your puppy for sitting quietly, or chewing the toys you provide (instead of the leg of a chair), or lying on the bed you've provided...the puppy will keep doing those things! Because he's "earned" a paycheck for doing it, he'll keep doing it!

Check out this biting thread for really good stuff on biting:

I really recommend finding a great puppy trainer to help you out. This is a good starting place:

It's so helpful to have someone that can coach you on how to train your pup, and it really helps you build that bond.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 03:03 PM
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Hi DobeMac and welcome from the Pacific NW.

I would not be grabbing your pup's muzzle. The biting will pass, but as MeadowCat said: Physically admonishing him by grabbing his muzzle while yelling at him could have some lasting negative effects.

There are several discussions here on DT about puppy biting. I like the thread that MC posted:

To see others, go the "Search" feature at the top the opening page and enter "puppy biting" and hit Go.

Portland OR
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2019, 12:18 PM
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John and I work on different theoris when it comes to biting puppies. He just lets 'em bite until they outgrow it.

I don't--and I hate being mouthed or bitten by dogs (even if they are only playing because baby puppy teeth are razor sharp. But as MeadowCat said--whatever you do you have to be DILIGENT and do it each and every time the puppy needs to be corrected for it to work. And she's absolutely right--dogs are the ultimate pragmatists--the do whatever works and if it works they'll keep doing it as long as it works.

I go on te teory that there is really NOTHING at all that a puppy want more than my attention (to play, to cuddle, to eat--whatever)--so if his teeth meet my skin--I'm gone--I say "No bite!" and leave--through a door or out a baby gate and out of sight. On average in about two weeks I have a puppy that doesn't bit or pull on clothes or attack shows--and heavens forbid that the puppy accidently bits me because he got too ramped up playing tug of war--it'll be a long, long time before we play that game again.

I don't recommend playing any games with puppies that involve the puppy biting at toys you are holding--I keep their mouths away from me by playing games that involve tossed toys or hidden toys (or treats) instead of grabbing at things in my hands.

But I deprive them of my company each and every time--if you don't you are in the "Maybe Mine field"--where you haven't been clear enough about your expectations for the puppy and what he is allowed vs what he isn't allowed to do.

You don't have to be gone long--a minute is probably enough--it really only takes a few seconds to wash memories from a dogs mind. And if the biting continues I then kennel the puppy--most of the time he's just to amped to get the message and probably needs a nap--at least it seems like it when the puppy who couldn't settle down when he went in the crate is sound asleep when I come back two minutes later...

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2019, 09:48 PM
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Dobebug's approach is the most correct one, IMHO. It's operant conditioning, negative punishment (removal of a pleasing stimulus).

Dogs react well to positive reinforcement (rewards), whether food or attention.

Positive punishment sometimes works, but has limitations. That's essentially what muzzle-grabbing is. The thing with dogs is that they don't always understand context or intent. When their human comes home from work, sees a mess on the floor, and smacks them with a rolled-up newspaper or rubs their nose in the mess, one of the more egregious training abuses, what does that mean to the dog? Probably only that they'd better watch-out for the human when they come home, because humans throw bizarre violent tantrums for no reason. Where's the association to having an accident in the house with the reaction?

Muzzle-grabbing is something I'd think would be particularly ineffective against nipping in a PPD breed. Dobermans with proper temperament are hard dogs. They shouldn't fall to pieces upon being scolded, grabbed, struck, or startled, and should bounce back very quickly. Much of that is ingrained temperament, not trained/desensitized by decoys hazing them in protection training. They have a fight drive, they play rough, and manhandling them when they're playing too rough is more than likely going to get them playing/fighting harder because that's engaging their drive. One might be able to get the point across eventually, but not easily, and the dog is likely to be confused. Plus, manhandling animals is rarely the answer to a training situation unless there's a life safety crisis.

Dobermans generally really crave attention, so stopping the play after yelping as if in pain really gets the point across in an unambiguous way, and it's probably one of the most severe corrections they could receive from their perspectives.

On a related note, negative punishment is very effective at combating accidents in the house. I hardly call what my sneaky Dobe does "accidents", as she is housetrained, definitely knows better, but sometimes doesn't like to do her business outside when the grass is wet or the ground is a little muddy, so she waits until I'm out the door headed to work or indisposed in the shower to have an "accident" after skipping doing anything outside. Anyway, if I come home to a mess, I don't do anything but clean it up straight away, completely ignoring the dogs, and then continue to ignore them for several minutes. It seems that Kira has figured-out that, if there's a dog mess on the floor, there's no greeting when I walk in and she's going to be ignored. That's what works the best, she doesn't even bother trying to greet me and acts all guilty if there's a mess (which is almost always caused by her), and stays like that until a bit after I clean it up. It's so reliable that I know when I have to go searching for puddle or pile that I didn't see or smell right off the bat. She still gets excited, greets me, and gets lots of attention when there's no dog mess to clean up, and she seems to try rather hard to avoid having accidents most of the time, and can hold for a very long time in most cases. I'm pretty sure she doesn't associate the act of making a mess with my reaction, but rather associates the presence of a mess with me doing cleaning in lieu of an excited greeting or attention. The typical crate training/expanding den housetraining techniques are the start of the process, the shunning clean-up is the reinforcing extension to that, at least with Kira.

In short, just think through what you're hoping to communicate with any given training technique, and try to understand how your actions will be interpreted by the dog.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2019, 10:26 PM
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Via Kaloric: "In short, just think through what you're hoping to communicate with any given training technique, and try to understand how your actions will be interpreted by the dog."

Yes ^^^^ That.

So, most of us who have been around the Doberman breed for years, pretty much understand the nuances of puppy and human interaction.

Still... It is a learned thing. And you learn it by rote, as does the dog. Patience, forgiveness, and most of all, positive reinforcement.

As smart as some other breeds are... Say Labs or Goldens, they are not Dobermans. Period.

A Doberman puppy can be the puppy from hell. But that is "our" interpretation. They are just being what they are: Doberman puppies.

Can you modify their obnoxious behavior? Sure. Is it necessary? IMO... Not always.

How far one wants to go with mitigating "puppy' behavior is totally up to them.

Me? I start training early, but I don't expect much. As the pup gets older, my expectations increase. (a lot).

Over the years, with the exception of SSA (something not for this discussion) I have never had a Dobe who would not mind me, 100% of the time.

Portland OR

Edit to say: In 45 years of owning Doberman puppies, what is my responsibility? It is to inure them to their new surroundings. To make them comfortable and receptive to life. To make them happy and healthy.

What are theirs?. To be a happy and health puppy with the desire to be manipulated (in a good way) with their human.

Just my POV. But I doubt if it will ever change.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 07:36 PM
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How brilliant to come here and get advice!! You have seen the backlash of using brute force on a clueless puppy, which always serves to further tangle up a tangly problem.

Dobebug, Kaloric, 4x4, etc al, much good advice here. Stick around and keep asking questions, they have about 1,000 years of training experience (she ducks...). John, I’m adding a word , in red, to this quote of yours just to clarify for the OP, quite possibly a newbie to puppy training:

“Over the years, with the exception of SSA (something not for this discussion) I have never had an ADULT Dobe who would not mind me, 100% of the time.”

Also, for the OP, a dog who minds an extremely high percentage of the time is a dog who has LEARNED how humans want them to behave. That just takes a lot of excellent communication (AKA effective training ), persistence, and many many many many short 5-10 minute training sessions over the first year of a puppy’s life.

Nothing is more important to peaceful coexistence with your wonderful puppy than understanding that training takes place gradually over time and requires a lot of patience and understanding about how all animals, including humans, learn. Any time you resort to overpowering your puppy, you have, in all likelihood, made a problem much much worse and/or added several other problems.

I strongly recommend that you get a fantastic book called, “The Other End of the Leash”, by Patricia McConnell. It will explain many things that you’re going to run into over the next year with your puppy and help you to understand why those various problems arise and a lot about what to do to fix them. It’s cheap and hard to put down - sort like explaining how magic works but it explains how dogs work!

Please please PLEASE check around locally for puppy obedience classes and start as soon as possible on your part of puppy ownership - learning how to train your puppy. Just like cooking, driving a car, doing your job, etc., you weren’t born knowing how to train a puppy. Learning how to do that is pretty easy and lots of fun but right now, you don’t know what you don’t know. You are just starting an amazingly and wonderful journey of training together with your Doberman. You will soon be hooked on it! These are brilliantly smart dogs and so so much fun to train.

A HUGE wealth of free and great training videos are online at Kikopup’s Youtube channel. She has a video on just about every single problem you could possibly encounter with the puppy. Her training methods are spot on and you can be quickly successful if you just watch each video several times in between training. Go back to a video to see if you need to refine your training to be closer to what she is showing. Emily has put an amazing resource out there.

Come here and ask questions anytime!!


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 01:20 AM
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Thanks Trish.

Yeah... I should have clarified. About 3 years old is when I can count on a boy to be totally under my control and be content doing it. Still... It's pretty obvious at younger ages what they will obey to with respect to basic commands.

Many folks may disagree, yet, I have, for years been a huge fan of a modified version of NILIF.

Always positive correction, but with a kind, yet strict hand. It has never let me down.

McCoy, having been raised this way his entire life, is never confused. He is well aware of what I expect from him and he is never concerned about what he will get from me for compliance to my wishes.

Its a done deal

Portland OR
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-31-2019, 12:13 PM
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You have plenty if good advice on the biting so I just wanting to comment on the won't come here statement. He Doesn't know what that means. You need to work on getting the behavior you want before you name it. Act fun and run away to get him to follow, use treats etc. Short distances. Once he does that few times and you know he will follow then name it "come" and reward like crazy. Dont scold if he doesn't, dont repeat " come..come...come here". Start short distance working to longer. Don't be in a hurry. You want him to be successful and consistent. A solid come takes time and he's just a baby, shoot many adults do not have a solid come. You can do this! Good luck!

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