Biting: positive reinforcement?

Basil just drew blood from my foot. Anytime I try to walk when he's on the floor he bites my feet or ankles… it's really painful. I've tried the dog yelping, I've tried "no", I've tried giving him a toy when he bites so he knows what to bite... and I've even tried misting him with water when he bites the ankles... nothing phases him. I know a lot of you have talked about positive reinforcement with biting... especially with basenji's but I honestly don't know how this works. I give him a treat for not biting me? This is usually when he's sleeping or doesn't have access to my feet... or has a toy he's actually interested in. Often he's not even interested in the dog treats I give him. He really only likes sweet potato and wet dog food... which is what gets him going really crazy.. or his own dry dog food... can these be used as rewards? Can someone please explain exactly how I should be doing positive reinforcement? I know he won't stop biting overnight but I really need something... it's awful!

Also, some of you have talked about tiring out the dog. I walk him at least once a day for about 5-10 minutes... which I think is right for his age... I think he's about 10 or 11 weeks now. He also gets a lot of time running around the back yard with me and playing with his toys with me. Is this enough?

Tiring him out would be a walk for an hour several times a day.
I would get him and you into a gentle obedience class.
Both of those suggestions will result in a tired basenji!

Exactly… 5/10 minutes is about 1 hour too short...ggg. How much time in the yard is he getting?

And since he has puppy teeth, drawing blood is pretty easy with those sharp puppy teeth... you need to be consistent and give it time... remember, he doesn't really know it is not acceptable... that is how he played with his littermates... with his mouth

@tanza:

Exactly… 5/10 minutes is about 1 hour too short...ggg. How much time in the yard is he getting?

And since he has puppy teeth, drawing blood is pretty easy with those sharp puppy teeth... you need to be consistent and give it time... remember, he doesn't really know it is not acceptable... that is how he played with his littermates... with his mouth

He gets atleast 30 minutes outside after every meal and then about an hour later in the evening. It's difficult to walk him because he sits down about every 30 seconds… it's not that I'm not willing to walk him longer... I thought that any longer was too long for his age.

You may want to try spraying some bitter apple on your feet and ankles….

I agree with Sharron...a puppy needs a lot of exercise and a training class will train you to train him. Make sure you find a trainer that REALLY believes in positive reinforcement.

When training you need to find a treat that is special to them. When I'm training Zuni a lot of times I cook up a hamburger or a chicken breast and use that rather than anything store bought. She will also do just about anything for cheese. You could also use his kibble for treats since he likes it so much.

Not enough activity…. but remember, puppies are a bundle of engery... they play,play,play and then they "crash"....

And he sits because he is not leash trained, I would guess... need to keep at it

When dealing with razor sharp puppy teeth, kevlar snake boots might help! It has been many years but I still remember eating dinner, sitting on our feet. There is a reason they are called "ankle biters" as puppies. He needs to be tired, and you might consider some hot sauce or 'bitter apple' on your ankles.

@tanza:

Not enough activity…. but remember, puppies are a bundle of engery... they play,play,play and then they "crash"....

And he sits because he is not leash trained, I would guess... need to keep at it

This is what I mean… I thought I was walking him enough that he would get used to walking on a leash... because I've only had him for about three weeks.. he's still bothered by his halter which he wears for a few hours a day to get used to it.

@Rivermoon:

You may want to try spraying some bitter apple on your feet and ankles….

I agree with Sharron...a puppy needs a lot of exercise and a training class will train you to train him. Make sure you find a trainer that REALLY believes in positive reinforcement.

When training you need to find a treat that is special to them. When I'm training Zuni a lot of times I cook up a hamburger or a chicken breast and use that rather than anything store bought. She will also do just about anything for cheese. You could also use his kibble for treats since he likes it so much.

I believe he has to have all of his shots to start any classes which will be at 16 weeks. I understand positive reinforcement is important… but nobody has told me how I give positive reinforcement...

@MacPack:

When dealing with razor sharp puppy teeth, kevlar snake boots might help! It has been many years but I still remember eating dinner, sitting on our feet. There is a reason they are called "ankle biters" as puppies. He needs to be tired, and you might consider some hot sauce or 'bitter apple' on your ankles.

At least I'm not alone… hehe. The eating dinner sitting on your feet made me laugh. Is the bitter apple a spray?

Um, I think it's time you bought some books on positive reinforcement if you don't know what it is. Obviously you'll need a good puppy class.. but something like Puppy Primer by Patricia Mcconnell and When Pigs Fly by Jane Killion would be helpful foundations.

I agree with the statements above, Lycia even at 10 weeks was out/playing for hours of the day. She would do what Pat said, play / crash , play / crash

Yes Bitter Apple is a spray. You can get it at pet stores or Amazon.

Lots of good advice here. Do let us know how its going. Puppies are wonderful and HARD!

@Schouiffy:

Um, I think it's time you bought some books on positive reinforcement if you don't know what it is. Obviously you'll need a good puppy class.. but something like Puppy Primer by Patricia Mcconnell and When Pigs Fly by Jane Killion would be helpful foundations.

I agree with the statements above, Lycia even at 10 weeks was out/playing for hours of the day. She would do what Pat said, play / crash , play / crash

Yes Bitter Apple is a spray. You can get it at pet stores or Amazon.

Thank you for the book suggestions. I work with children so I know what positive reinforcement is… I just can't relate it to training a dog. We just came in from our hour long walk, it was painful as we walked what I could've in 20 mins but I know it takes patience. He enjoyed discovering the neighborhood but would get tired and lay down often. Luckily I brought some kibble to entice him with and every time he would pull I would say "heel" and if he came back to me he got a piece. At the end of our walk we did a short 30 second sprint in the park which he seemed to love. He came in the house after, drank a bunch of water and passed out right outside his kennel 🙂 Just ordered Puppy Primer.. should be here within 2 weeks. 🙂

Yea!!!!!!!! way to go.

@basilboy7:

I work with children so I know what positive reinforcement is… I just can't relate it to training a dog.

Think of your Basenji as a cross between a toddler, a cat, and a monkey.
Once you grasp that, you will have the training down pat! lol

Just like a child, your puppy need lots and lots and lots [did I say lots??] of positive reinforcement.

Good luck!

Get the bitter apple and put it on your body. My b's wont' touch it after the first time.
I want to add that Kathy B has the BEST socialized puppies I have ever seen. So, she knows
what she is talking about!

@khanis:

Think of your Basenji as a cross between a toddler, a cat, and a monkey.
Once you grasp that, you will have the training down pat! lol

Just like a child, your puppy need lots and lots and lots [did I say lots??] of positive reinforcement.

Good luck!

Well every time he goes pee or poo outside I say in an excited voice "good boy basil!"… with children I can say "oh wow, I see that you're helping your friend... great job!"... a dog doesn't really understand that. I just don't understand how to apply it to biting is the problem. Another example... I work with a child with down syndrome and we have a difficulty getting him to eat a good portion of his lunch. I will use a treat like food that he likes (pretzels, goldfish) to get him to eat his main meal... like veggies and meat. If he eats a piece of meat or veggie then he gets one treat. This I would consider bribing but a kind of positive reinforcement. With Basil biting... if I give him a treat for not biting... won't he think he's just getting a treat for no reason? Like there isn't a direct relation to the behavior. Does anyone understand what I mean?

I do understand what you mean! (And Butu was a pain on feet too!) Have you tried a pig's ear or a rawhide treat, or even a toy he can mutilate? With Butu, it was his Goggie (a soft dog toy with a squeaker..) If I could divert his attention with Goggie, he got a treat. He now trashes a Goggie (he's on his third…) or a rawhide ring...

@basilboy7:

Well every time he goes pee or poo outside I say in an excited voice "good boy basil!"… with children I can say "oh wow, I see that you're helping your friend... great job!"... a dog doesn't really understand that. I just don't understand how to apply it to biting is the problem. Another example... I work with a child with down syndrome and we have a difficulty getting him to eat a good portion of his lunch. I will use a treat like food that he likes (pretzels, goldfish) to get him to eat his main meal... like veggies and meat. If he eats a piece of meat or veggie then he gets one treat. This I would consider bribing but a kind of positive reinforcement. With Basil biting... if I give him a treat for not biting... won't he think he's just getting a treat for no reason? Like there isn't a direct relation to the behavior. Does anyone understand what I mean?

But your pup understands the tone in your voice. 😉

Also, can you narrow down his behavior right before he attacks your feet? Is it when he just wakes up? around 6pm every night? right before dinner? after dinner? etc. if you can do that, you can then re-direct his behavior before the nibble-fest begins and reward him for doing something else. Sitting nicely comes to mind.

I also think he's not getting enough exercise/mental stimulation. If he were getting more exercise, I think you'd see a decrease of this behavoir. But, positive does not equal permissive and were he my puppy, I'd try giving him a time-out for this behavior. 3-5 minutes in the crate is plenty of time for a time out. But also increase his excercise/training/mental stimulation.

@agilebasenji:

But your pup understands the tone in your voice. 😉

Also, can you narrow down his behavior right before he attacks your feet? Is it when he just wakes up? around 6pm every night? right before dinner? after dinner? etc. if you can do that, you can then re-direct his behavior before the nibble-fest begins and reward him for doing something else. Sitting nicely comes to mind.

I also think he's not getting enough exercise/mental stimulation. If he were getting more exercise, I think you'd see a decrease of this behavoir. But, positive does not equal permissive and were he my puppy, I'd try giving him a time-out for this behavior. 3-5 minutes in the crate is plenty of time for a time out. But also increase his excercise/training/mental stimulation.

I'll increase his exercise, I think his biting happens after he wakes up and after he eats because that's when he's most hyper. I try to play with him using his toys or have him run around following me in the back yard but he always seems more interested in biting. I could try to use this time to leash train him because I have more control over where he goes and what he does. Also, I thought you weren't supposed to use the crate as a tool or time outs or discipline because it's supposed to be their safe haven?

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