Play biting or aggressive behavior?

  • Hi there,

    My name is Kaela, I have a 14 week old Basenji pup named Roo.

    She play bites A LOT. I have been trying to train her to "leave it" and that has helped with her chewing but not the play biting. I have also tried "yelping" and ignoring her, but that doesn't seem to phase her at all.

    Today, we were out for a walk. I began to run with her, to get a little extra energy out. As soon as I stopped running, she started biting my legs, hands and growing. She would not "leave it" or listen to "no." I ended up with some pretty deep and bloody bite marks on my hand after.
    What do you guys think of this behavior? Do you think she got overly excited with the by run? Or do you believe that this was an act of aggression?

    Let me know your thoughts!
    Thank you

  • Mine is 12weeks and had very similar reactions... my suggestion is continue the "no bite" comments and gently but firmly hold the snout and say no bite. You can try organic all natural no bite spray which helps with furniture and the chewing... I would suggests behavior training however 14 weeks is still too young for serious training you could try chew toys or shock collars... but like I said 14 weeks is young for most of those options I would continue the no bite commands... and gently holding the snout and maybe the no bite spray... hope it helps

  • It's not unusual for the excitement of running to spill over into nipping, but bloody hands sounds a bit excessive! Best to avoid behaviour that brings this reaction out in her, and when and if it does occur I would restrain her until she quits it. A firm "no" and not allowing her to do anything until she is quiet is the approach I would take. She's just a pup and this is a small breed, so a "bear hug" should be sufficient. Be careful not to let her teeth near your face! Just holding her off with the leash probably won't work for something like this and can actually increase her desire to get at something to bite.

    When she is quiet and not struggling or growling, release her cautiously but if she starts again restrain her again. She needs to learn the behaviour is unacceptable and the fun she is having will instantly stop.

  • @drew82 I totally disagree with your comment about holding the snout. And seriously, "shock collar"? on a 12 wk pup? And 14 wks is NOT too young for training. It takes time and effort and the training sessions need to be often, but short... 5 minutes at a time.

    As for the behavior of Roo, how old was she when you got her? Have you discussed the behavior with her breeder? That is a bit excessive behavior for her age....

  • @tanza I agree with you, I am not interested in shock collars, what-so-ever. I want to focus on positive training. I know that she is capable of training because she already knows a good amount of demands.

    She was nine weeks when I got her, do you think that is too young? I have not talked to her breeder yet but I will today!

    Thank you

  • @eeeefarm Thank you! I have been putting her in "time outs" in her create, but I need to be more constant when I am doing them.

  • A lot of people do time outs but the danger is that then the crate can become a place associated with negative punishment. I know many advise against physical restraint, but there are times when you just have to take control and stop the behaviour. I think biting is one of those times. If distraction does not work, then to me prevention is the only option. You do not want her to "self reward" for this type of behaviour and if she is enjoying it as "play" she needs to learn that rough play is unacceptable. Consistency is very important. Decide what you will not tolerate and never allow it, even if it isn't "convenient" to deal with it at the time.

  • @tanza let me clarify, lol... I don't agree with shock collar at 12 weeks or 14 weeks... I was saying some do go that way. As for the training... yes basic training can be started at 3 to 4 months old. But serious obedience should start around 6 - 8 months. But I even have gradual success with her getting to come to me using a come here command. As for the snout holding I'm not saying be aggressive or hard just a gentle but firm hold and say no bite worked for me. She still wants to bite when she gets excited when she plays... and I reaffirm the no... and no bite to which she quits and goes into the wonderful kisses instead

  • Just a comment about training. I don't believe there is such a thing as "too young". You are teaching your pup something (for good or bad!) every time you interact with them. Formal training may be something you undertake more as they get older, but rewarding what you like and ignoring or discouraging what you don't like can start right from the time you get your pup. "Rewarding" can be offering praise or affection to reinforce that good behaviour. You have to guard against rewarding unwanted behaviour, which unfortunately often occurs because people think it is "cute". Be conscious of what you may be inadvertently encouraging, because bad habits can start from how you respond to things that at the time seem unimportant.

  • I have used a spray bottle of water to train to no bite. I spray it in the face and firmly say no bite and then give him chew bone to bite. It has worked for me. Also if you scream loudly as though you are in pain and say no bite seems to help too. good luck, I have trained 2 Basenji's and now trading my 3rd puppy. Remember to be consistent.

  • Water works very well for many as an aversive. My last Basenji had been trained that way by his breeder. She teaches all her pups what things are legal to chew and what are not. Her dogs consistently do not rip up plush toys, as they were taught not to do this as pups. My Perry had the same plush toys which he kept in pristine condition his whole life. A little spritz of water, or the threat of one, would immediately cause cessation of any unwanted behaviour. Of course, you have to have it available when needed! (squirt guns work well).

  • Which works better stream or mist for the water corrections

  • @drew82 said in Play biting or aggressive behavior?:

    Which works better stream or mist for the water corrections

    It would depend on the dog. Some might need a "firmer" correction, which is why a water pistol can be good (more range, too). Others just need a very light misting to get the message. Obviously, if you don't need to use an aversive but can get by with a distraction that is better.

  • You can just use the mist. They do not like water being sprayed in their face. If puppy is teething they will bite everything to ease their pain. I have gave mine an ice cube under supervision. This numbs their gums and give them something hard to bite on. It's also a fun thing for your puppy.

  • Because I am tired I will just be succinct about the shock collar and aversive suggestions and echo the others. It is never too young to train.. and the OP wasn't talking about advanced obedience. No EVER to aversive training on any puppy and rarely ever on an adult (exceptions for snake/rock eating/life threatening issues sometimes).

    I don't see gently holding the muzzle closed and say "NO BITE" as aversive, but you must be very gentle.

    Puppies bite. Think of babies... would you swat one for putting its hands, toes or any object in their mouth? Of course not.. it's what babies DO. Fortunately for humans, babies don't have teeth. 🙂 Puppies do. Please visit this site. Mary is so easy to follow you'll feel faint. The only caveat for any training site is that unlike NORMAL dogs, squeaking when they bite doesn't often stop them... it increases it! Imagine my surprise after nearly 45 years of dogs to get a basenji who responded to me with "OH! NOISE! DO IT AGAIN!!" chomp.

    Lessons on left to get you through the next 6 mos... problem solving/nonobedience issues on the right.

  • @eeeefarm I agree, I was reluctant to use her crate as for time outs, but everything I read said that was ok. I try to separate the difference of time out vs. her hanging out in there. When its a time out, I lift her up and put her in there myself, no treat. When she needs to be in the crate at night, or when I cannot supervise her, I make her go in on her own and give her a treat. Maybe that can help...

    She did a similar thing today where she started to bite my legs; it was right after I accidentally stepped on her paw, so I think she was acting out in fear. Luckily I was able to pick her up and calm her down before it got to the point it did the other night.
    I just hired a dog trainer today; I am crossing my fingers!

  • @DebraDownSouth Thank you for the website! I will look at it now.

  • @RooBear said in Play biting or aggressive behavior?:

    I just hired a dog trainer today; I am crossing my fingers!

    A good trainer can point you in the right direction, but you are the one who is there with her most of the time. And if the trainer suggests anything you are uncomfortable with, trust your instincts.

  • @Rlingerfelt said in Play biting or aggressive behavior?:

    You can just use the mist. They do not like water being sprayed in their face. If puppy is teething they will bite everything to ease their pain. I have gave mine an ice cube under supervision. This numbs their gums and give them something hard to bite on. It's also a fun thing for your puppy.

    Frozen carrots work good also

  • Did you ever talk to the breeder? 9wks is OK to bring home a puppy. Do you know if the litter was kept together until you picked her up? And can you share the pups breeding?

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