Puppy Terrible Twos/ Establishing dominance
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Thread: Puppy Terrible Twos/ Establishing dominance

  1. #1
    Bellie10 is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultPuppy Terrible Twos/ Establishing dominance

    I believe my 12 week old American Bulldog/Lab mix, Panda, is rounding her "terrible two" stage in her development. We got her at 8 weeks and all and all she's been a joy. We (my partner and I) love her dearly and are doing our best to be consistant, calm, assertive pack leaders for her, but in the last week or so she's starting to "act out". She "talks back" and "attacks" us when we correct her bahavior. She also bites and attacks when we play with her sometimes. I'm not totally sure what to do to establish dominance with her at this point. When she tries to bite at us we roll her onto her side and gently, but firmly hold her down. She has to remain still and quiet for at least 6-7 seconds before we let her up, after which we ignore her for a few seconds. It worked very well when we first brought her home, but now she bites and wiggles and wiggles trying to get up when we hold her down. Then after she's quiet and we let her up, she bounces right back, almost in retaliation with us, thus starting the whole thing over again. She'll do it over and over before we end up crating her for a while.

    Should be start a new approach, modify it, or try something new altogether? I know this is her puppy phase and she's not really a terror, but I want to nip this behavior and make sure she knows who is boss before she gets too big and things get out of hand.

    Any tips would be appreciated

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    Dani's Avatar
    Dani is offline Senior Member
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    Stop rolling her. She needs a leader, not someone to "dominate" her. Start with more exercise, teaching her to "watch you" and get some of the sillies out. Exercise is of UTMOST importance. I'd recommend getting her into an obedience class immediately and work her mentally as well as physically.

    Dogs don't think in terms of "spite" or revenge they think in the moment, and getting your attention wether positive or negative is going to do just that.
    Dani, Rider & Rookie
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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    I don't know what effect the Bulldog part will have but, in my experience, among mixes that are half Lab, the Lab part is usually pretty ascendant.

    Have you been reading books by tbe Monks of New Skete? They work with German Shepherds and advocate contesting and winning dominance issues with pups. Their methods aren't suitable for Labs -- (and are rejected by many dog trainers of many breeds, including GSDs).

    My guess is that you're not going through a "Terrible Two" stage but instead you're all going through the "Terrible Teething" stage plus maybe not giving your pup enough exercise.

    Until the puppy teeth fall out and get replaced by the adult teeth, almost all pups will chew anything they can reach -- table legs, fingers, electric wires, clothing, etc.

    My suggestion is that whenever this happens you substitute something more suitable to chew than fingers, etc. Wet, knotted frozen washclothes help relieve the incessant itching which drives the nipping and biting. Substituting other safe to chew objects (a Kong, other chew toys) is a big help.

    Also, make sure your pup has enough vigorous daily exercise (running offleash, retrieving, etc.). A widely accepted rule of thumb for puppies is 5 minutes/day for each month of age (up to 12 months).

    But individual pups differ. My Lab pup was hyper and needed 2 of those periods a day (about 10 hrs apart) for her first 5 or 6 months.

    For training, you might Google NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) Training. This is a method of using meal times for teaching basic commands which would include sit, down, come, leave it, etc. Teaching "Leave it" will probably be a more productive experience for all parties than having a wrestling match.

    Also, I recommend Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" because it's mainstream, non-punitive and priced very economically (check its number of 4 star customer reviews on www.amazon.com).


    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    Bellie10 is offline Junior Member
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    So what do I do when she does bite? I don't want to reward her bad bahavior by play with her and telling her "No" doesn't work. How do I teach her that biting is unacceptable behavior and that it will not get her what she wants.

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    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Don't take it personal.

    She's biting because she has to -- her teeth itch and you're close.

    Always carry something with you that's suitable for her to bite instead of you, the table leg, your socks, etc.

    Or reach for something suitable -- a wet knotted washcloth that's been frozen.

    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellie10 View Post
    So what do I do when she does bite? I don't want to reward her bad bahavior by play with her and telling her "No" doesn't work. How do I teach her that biting is unacceptable behavior and that it will not get her what she wants.
    I could (and think I did!) write your problem word for word about a month ago; and our dog is a shelter rescue lab mix who is 1.5years old and 70lbs. Its good of you to deal with this now when he's still little. Our dog would come full speed at us and jump, tackle and bite. We tried the alpha roll a few times, but that only up'd the intensity of his reaction and didn't fix the problem. One month later I rarely have this problem This is what we did: When he would start jumping and biting, I'd put my hands around his mouth and say NO BITE! and then I walked away. He'd follow and bite my hand again and start barking at me. I calmly (it was hard to be calm with a 70lb monster virtually attacking you!) placed him in his crate. He remained there until he stopped his temper tantrum. It seems for our dog, that negative attention was still attention. And if you watch dogs play, they are constantly biting and jumping and tackling eachother; so by physically engaging with our dog, we were giving him exactly what he wanted. What he didn't want was to be away from us in the crate. Consistency worked in our case. Also, if you are just sitting there and he starts mouthing you, I'd do a high pitched YELP noise, say NO BITE, pull your hand back and then walk away and find him a suitable chew toy instead.
    Jennifer and:
    Boomer, yellow lab mix (born approx. March 2008)
    Rescued from kill shelter and home forever Sept. 2009

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    Bellie10 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Pr. View Post
    I don't know what effect the Bulldog part will have but, in my experience, among mixes that are half Lab, the Lab part is usually pretty ascendant.

    Have you been reading books by tbe Monks of New Skete? They work with German Shepherds and advocate contesting and winning dominance issues with pups. Their methods aren't suitable for Labs -- (and are rejected by many dog trainers of many breeds, including GSDs).

    My guess is that you're not going through a "Terrible Two" stage but instead you're all going through the "Terrible Teething" stage plus maybe not giving your pup enough exercise.

    Until the puppy teeth fall out and get replaced by the adult teeth, almost all pups will chew anything they can reach -- table legs, fingers, electric wires, clothing, etc.

    My suggestion is that whenever this happens you substitute something more suitable to chew than fingers, etc. Wet, knotted frozen washclothes help relieve the incessant itching which drives the nipping and biting. Substituting other safe to chew objects (a Kong, other chew toys) is a big help.

    Also, make sure your pup has enough vigorous daily exercise (running offleash, retrieving, etc.). A widely accepted rule of thumb for puppies is 5 minutes/day for each month of age (up to 12 months).

    But individual pups differ. My Lab pup was hyper and needed 2 of those periods a day (about 10 hrs apart) for her first 5 or 6 months.

    For training, you might Google NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) Training. This is a method of using meal times for teaching basic commands which would include sit, down, come, leave it, etc. Teaching "Leave it" will probably be a more productive experience for all parties than having a wrestling match.

    Also, I recommend Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" because it's mainstream, non-punitive and priced very economically (check its number of 4 star customer reviews on www.amazon.com).



    It's not even that she's mouthing me or just teething on me. That I understand and redirect her to one of her chewies, but when she just drops her chew toy and runs and jumps at me, mouth wide open, or nips/snaps/barks at me when I tell her "No" or "Off", I don't see that as just a teething problem.

    I will definitetly work on excercising her more and redirect her chewing, but what do I do to correct her when she snaps at me?

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    Bellie10 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjmeck View Post
    I could (and think I did!) write your problem word for word about a month ago; and our dog is a shelter rescue lab mix who is 1.5years old and 70lbs. Its good of you to deal with this now when he's still little. Our dog would come full speed at us and jump, tackle and bite. We tried the alpha roll a few times, but that only up'd the intensity of his reaction and didn't fix the problem. One month later I rarely have this problem This is what we did: When he would start jumping and biting, I'd put my hands around his mouth and say NO BITE! and then I walked away. He'd follow and bite my hand again and start barking at me. I calmly (it was hard to be calm with a 70lb monster virtually attacking you!) placed him in his crate. He remained there until he stopped his temper tantrum. It seems for our dog, that negative attention was still attention. And if you watch dogs play, they are constantly biting and jumping and tackling eachother; so by physically engaging with our dog, we were giving him exactly what he wanted. What he didn't want was to be away from us in the crate. Consistency worked in our case. Also, if you are just sitting there and he starts mouthing you, I'd do a high pitched YELP noise, say NO BITE, pull your hand back and then walk away and find him a suitable chew toy instead.
    Thanks so much. It's nice to know that someone else has been there and overcome it. I love her so much. I know she's not being aggressive persay. She's just a rambuncious baby who is still learning. I just want her to be a good companion us, and I want her to feel the same about us. I want her to be well behaved so we can take her places and have people over and such. It's just frustrating when you feel like nothing you're doing is right. I don't want to let her down.

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    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    It sounds to me like you are listening to Cesar Milan. Sounds like the language I have heard on that show. And on The Monks of New Skete - they have retracted a lot of the philosophy that they originally promoted. Dominance theory is very old hat.

    I would disagree with Bob in that the "Lab" part of your dog's mix may not be ascendant. Often what is called a "Lab" mix in a shelter has little to no Lab in there.

    In any event - the "Alpha" roll will rile a puppy up much more than deliver calm behavior. Stop doing that. Ignoring the puppy when she behaves badly is effective. Also using a little negative reinforcement (via rolling the lip around a tooth and pressing it into the lip - just enough to produce a reaction - not to hurt her or draw blood) will teach her a consequence for biting. In the litter puppies learn bite inhibition from their siblings and mom. When they hurt a sib or mom by biting they get a reaction - a consequence. The sibs will YIPE loudly and will retreat from play. The mom will (depending on her temperament) inflict a little ouch on the puppy or leave. You as the leader need to do similar.

    I would start with a consistent program of ignore/separate when she is behaving badly. If she is resistent (like after a couple of weeks of this) then try layering the lip roll in. You probably won't have to do this more than a couple of times.

    I agree - you need to direct some of this energy via play and more exercise and use the crate to separate her when she need to settle down.

    You have to have a LOT of patience with a puppy. They require months and months of investment to reap a dog that is a pleasure to have around (not unlike children - LOL!).
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

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    sarah is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjmeck View Post
    I could (and think I did!) write your problem word for word about a month ago; and our dog is a shelter rescue lab mix who is 1.5years old and 70lbs. Its good of you to deal with this now when he's still little. Our dog would come full speed at us and jump, tackle and bite. We tried the alpha roll a few times, but that only up'd the intensity of his reaction and didn't fix the problem. One month later I rarely have this problem This is what we did: When he would start jumping and biting, I'd put my hands around his mouth and say NO BITE! and then I walked away. He'd follow and bite my hand again and start barking at me. I calmly (it was hard to be calm with a 70lb monster virtually attacking you!) placed him in his crate. He remained there until he stopped his temper tantrum. It seems for our dog, that negative attention was still attention. And if you watch dogs play, they are constantly biting and jumping and tackling eachother; so by physically engaging with our dog, we were giving him exactly what he wanted. What he didn't want was to be away from us in the crate. Consistency worked in our case. Also, if you are just sitting there and he starts mouthing you, I'd do a high pitched YELP noise, say NO BITE, pull your hand back and then walk away and find him a suitable chew toy instead.

    I think this is excellent advice. Do this consistently!!! Praise highly for behaviour you accept and ignore the behaviour you don't want. If you cannot ignore it (ie: biting, following you, jumping on you) then time out in the crate.

    good luck. it does improve if you are consistent!
    Sarah & Milly - Sydney Australia






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