Puppy is viscious - is this normal?

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.


Barked: Wed Jan 6, '10 1:34pm PST 
My puppy Gaston is almost 4 months old, but i'm not sure he acts like a typical puppy. He bites SO much. It's not teething nibbles either, he bites hard and wiggles his head as if your hand was a toy.

Whenever I try and put his harness or a sweater on him he gets angry and starts biting. Is this normal puppy behavior? If it is, how can I control this? If not, what could I do about this?


All that lives- is holy.
Barked: Wed Jan 6, '10 1:42pm PST 
It's not 'normal' as in something that should be accepted, but I've worked with a LOT of small breed puppies that behaved that way.

If he were a four month old rottweiler puppy, I think you already would've answered your own question because of the damage he'd already be capable of inflicting.

You really need to take steps to end the problem. I recommend getting a good trainer, if you're unsure how to proceed on your own.

The thing about small breed biting puppies is that they grow up to be small breed biting adults. At the grooming shop where I used to work, there was a shih-tzu who had sent three different groomers to the ER for stitches. The least was four, the most was six. Honestly, that dog wouldn't have been welcome in my establishment without more training, but as an employee I was just subjected to what he wanted to dish out.

Beyond making his vet, owners and groomers miserable, this dog had a very poor quality of life because no one wanted to pet or cuddle him because he bit. He had to be completely sedated for a full groom, and his owner couldn't brush him because of his biting...nor could you clip his nails without him being sedated. As a result, he came in every six months matted with sores and his claws growing into his pads. His owners didn't want to train him because training him would've been 'mean,' because he was 'feisty' and because it was 'cute.' The dog got to the point at which he would pull a muzzle off or struggle so hard you couldn't do anything with him.

Now, I'm not trying to scare you or make you feel bad. You're taking a step in the right direction any time you get help for a dog's bad behavior. The puppy is young enough that it should be easily fixable and within no time, you should have a wonderful companion.

Gir, for example, behaved much the way your puppy does when he was young, and he's now a truly incredible dog.
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Wed Jan 6, '10 1:44pm PST 
Are you doing any obedience training with him?
Does he know sit/stay etc?
How do you react when he bites you?

It sounds like some basic training is needed to get him use to doing things he may not want to do. And it should definetly start now before he gets much older and bites harder.

There are much better people out there like Asher and others who can give you advice on basic stuff to start but I would start now by "yelping" when he bites you and placing him in a time out. This will help to tell him that biting you hurts and does not get him what he wants.

Also making him sit to place clothing on him is a good thing. He may need to be desensitized to wearing clothes with some + reinforcement like tasty treats while putting sweaters on.

Do you do things like clip his nails or clean his ears? If he is already being a "terror" about putting a sweater on you should probobly include basic grooming needs in his training schedule so that you can desensitize him to these too so that when he is bigger he is not biting you when you touch his feet or ears.

Look around your area for a good trainer and start puppy classes if you have not already. This will help him get some puppy socialization to help reinforce bite inhabition and also start you down the path of good obedience to help make him a model citizen

GOOD LUCK and I hope others offer up so good advice too!

Redbone- Grady

Barked: Wed Jan 6, '10 1:55pm PST 
How old was the puppy when you adopted it?
Puppies should be at least around 10 weeks old before a breeder releases them. This is not to say that this is definitely the cause of your dog's behavior.
But during these first formative weeks, a puppy learns social skills from the mother and siblings - and through human contact too. This process must be allowed to play out, but too often breeders (not all of them) will sell them far too early.
I've seen too many cases similar to yours, where as the dog grows older it shows behavioral issues. I've seen too many end up in a shelter.
It is possible to overcome these behavioral issues, through positive training methods where you reward good behavior and basically go to time out for bad behavior.
Good luck.

Tom Grady

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Thu Jan 7, '10 7:19pm PST 
Here is an excellent blog on the importance of socialization and also learned bite inhibition, with a number of helpful links at the end.

http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2010/01/dog-bites-vs- dog-attacks-what-determines-the-difference.html

little- dog big- life
Barked: Sat Jan 9, '10 7:14am PST 
i was a bad biter and i loved a good struggle to put on my coat or collar even when i actually wanted to wear them!
for me, it was a game that never grew old.
i still roll over and kick my feet and make little growly, grunting noises when someone wants to pick me up, i also enjoy turning into soup..i get a kick out of being difficult. wink
i have learned some manners, but i retain my prankish inner spirit.
i was at my nippiest at your age and hands are very tasty.
everyone kept tug toys, stuffies, bully sticks in their pockets and kept my mouth full in self defence.
i doubt you are viscious, more likely just a brat. little angel

A lesson in- unconditionnal- love
Barked: Sat Jan 9, '10 9:08am PST 
great link Chandler way to go

Can I eat that?
Barked: Mon Jan 11, '10 12:03pm PST 
I can simpathize. Our puppy, Izzy, is almost 3 months old and she has been showing signs of aggressive biting, not to be confused with play biting. While neither should be tolerated, the aggressive side of our pup was getting to be very concerning.

We started a puppy class recently and learned a few things that might help with your situation.

1 - We were giving our puppy too much freedom and cuddling. While we kept our pup in her crate and a confined area most of the time, we often joined her on the floor, let her sit in our laps, etc. To fix this we've started keeping on a house leash almost 100% of the time she's out of her crate. When she acts up, we grab the leash and step on it to reduce her freedom and settle her down. If she bit anyone, we can then tether her to a specific "timeout" location for a few minutes.

2 - Passive Restraint. Our class trainers have taught us three positions to use to passively restrain our pup. This isn't done as a displinary action, but as a bonding exercise. It's the neatest thing I've seen in dog training in a long time. It involves using your hands and body to hold & caress you dog. They claim it works wonders for stopping biting behaviors. I just started this so the jury is still out. But I like what I've seen so far. Our pup will initially struggle/fight against being restrained and eventually give herself over (control) and be totally relaxed (even going to sleep). I'm surprised that this isn't discussed more but maybe it has different names as well.

I realize that the info on passive restraint isn't enough to implement it, but perhaps you can investigate this further or check to see if dog trainers in your area teach it.

Goodbye little- friend
Barked: Mon Jan 11, '10 1:48pm PST 
Thanks for the link Chandler! Just got a puppy that seems infused with furious anger whenever she's not asleep, hoping to fix her biting behaviour asap, that article & links look great.

Only my cover is- scary. Read my- book.
Barked: Tue Jan 12, '10 11:43am PST 
You've gotten great advice here. I've nothing much to add except our Chi and a Pug that came before him were both terrible biters. They were NOT playing, I know the difference having had many pups before them and after. Anything can be worked out, don't panic. It took almost 8mo's-1yr to completely work out our Chi's biting. He too would bite me when trying to put a sweater on him. I left on a harness 24/7 so I would not have to keep putting it on and off. It is a soft, stretchy Puppie harness, left on loosely. After the biting was worked out he let me put a sweater on him, no problem. Our Pug we got at 3mo's and it took a good 3-4mo's to work her biting out. She was so bad I was tempted to wear rubber gloves and hold her out in front of me with a pair of tongs when taking her out for a wee. She would snarl and scream all the way out the door trying to get at me. Turned into our favorite dog. We still miss her dearly. Hang in there.