How Can I Stop My Puppy Trying To Play Fight?

Discussion in 'Puppies' started by xXbuffyXx, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Hey Everyone! :D I joined the site yesterday and I thought I would jump straight into it and ask you all for some help with a problem I am having with my 11 week old Bull Mastiff X puppy, Buffy.

    For the last week or two she has started biting my legs/pants when I am sitting and watching TV. She gets really carried away if I let her and starts growling and trying to play fight, but not gently. Neither myself or my partner have play fought with her so I don't know where this is coming from.

    I started to try to stop the behaviour by saying "NO!" then redirecting her to a toy as soon as she did it. But usually she will play with the toy for less than a minute then come back for more.

    So now if the toy doesn't work straight away I put her outside. But that doesn't seem to be working either.

    The vet nurse at puppy school suggested I pin her down and hold her mouth shut. But I stopped that because it seemed to make her worse.

    Someone suggested I use a spray bottle with a little bit of citrus.. would this work? I am afraid it will make her scared of water or something. Also is it normal for a puppy to go through this stage? She seemed so placid and well tempered before she started this :(

    Thank you so much for reading! (Sorry it was so long) Look forward to hearing from you all :D
    MaryK likes this.

  2. sara Moderator

    We dont like adversives here, so no one will recommend a squirt bottle. The best thing you can do is end the game... we call it the tree method. Basically, the SECOND you feel teeth on any part of your body or clothing, you stand up, cross your arms and look straight ahead. IGNORE the puppy completely until she stops biting/mouthing and looks at you baffled (may take a few seconds... or a minute or two LOL) once she stops biting and looks up, immediately reward her with something she CAN bite (Keeping a tug toy in the pocket for these situations is a good thing :) )

    So she will learn that biting people, game and attention end biting toys, game and attention continue.

    You MUST be consistent! EVERY single time you feel teeth, become the tree. There's little worse for a puppy than having the game end and the attention go away... that's no fun!
  3. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Oh and I thought I might add... She only does this to me, never my partner! O_o Could that mean it is a dominance thing and she is trying to find her place in the pack?
    MaryK likes this.
  4. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Thank you! :D I will try the tree! LOL i hope that she stops quickly because her bites can hurt :( I didn't like the idea of the spray bottle either. I'll keep you posted on her progress.
    MaryK likes this.
  5. sara Moderator

    If she doesn't stop fast, the other thing you can do (and what I usually recommend for herding breeds) is to put up baby gates and such, so you can step over it, THEN become the tree LOL
    Dogster, southerngirl and MaryK like this.
  6. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    LOL! :LOL:
  7. MaryK Honored Member

    No, the dominance theory is very old school method/thinking. It's the same as the Alpha Dog theory and has been TOTALLY DEBUNKED by scientists. Forget that completely please. She's a puppy and unfortunately for us that's what puppies do - play fight.

    She probably targets you for a number of reasons. Are you the person who feeds her? Do you spend more time with her training etc.? Were you the first person she met? Or she just may prefer the taste of you better than your partner:D.

    My boy Ra Kismet targeted me, not my partner, but I was the one training my boy feeding him, teaching him potty manners , walking him etc. etc. So I was the person he had most contact with and therefore I was the one he tried to play fight with.

    Follow Sara's advice and you'll survive they do stop usually when they're grown their adult teeth. And whatever you do, DO NOT follow that Vet Nurse's advice, that's virtually guaranteed to make your puppy worse and further problems will develop that way is old school training. So too is the water bottle again will make her worse, with other problems developing along the way.
  8. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi xxbuffyxx

    First of all, this is normal puppy behavior and has nothing to do with her being somehow bad, and it does not mean she's plotting to take over the world (like Sara's dogs ;)). This can be a bit of a sticky problem, though. Normally, when a dog does something we don't like, we can try to remove the reward for whatever it is; for example, the dog barks for attention. You stop giving her attention for barking, and instead give the reward (your attention) only to quiet dogs, and she drops barking as a strategy for attention. For this problem, though, the biting itself can be rewarding for a young puppy, as can the tugging on clothes, etc. and if your dog is one of those, you'll have to actually teach her that humans are Very Delicate and dog teeth cannot touch human skin. Here is a site with some good tips:

    I dunno if you've ever seen puppies or even adult dogs play, but they can just latch on and drag each other around by the facial skin, with no apparent pain. Most pups must learn that humans are not so tough. It's not her goal to hurt you, her goal is to engage you in play just like she would any other creature in her universe (which, till now, included a lot of dogs!). So I'd follow the advice above about nipping, and also:

    -- Exercise
    -- Exercise
    -- Exercise
    -- And I recommend exercise, did I mention? A tired puppy is a good puppy. She should be running around with her tongue hanging out for as much of the day as possible. If you can get her 'play dates' with vaccinated dogs or pups her own age and of a similar size, that's great. Otherwise, get her running by teaching her recall games (between you and a friend or your partner) -- drop a treat between your feet, she eats it, turns to see your friend saying "here puppy puppy!" and she drops a treat, dog runs for that one, then your treat, etc. Teach her to play fetch, that's another great one. One note about play dates: choose an adult dog whom you know likes puppies. Not all adults do, and harsh treatment at this age may influence how she feels about bigger dogs later on.
    -- Mental exercise. Teach her stuff, engage her wittle puppy brain on problems like putting her butt down to sit, lying down and staying put, dropping toys when asked, etc. Are you familiar with clicker training? Puppies loooooove clicker training. Make sure to include some resource guarding prevention exercises.
    -- Get better toys, or make up better games. Does Buffy have toys that she really likes to chew? If not, get her some, so that you can re-direct her to a toy she finds very engaging. Get some Kongs and other food toys and teach her how to use them:

    Teach her to play tug, and redirect her to a tug toy. You will soon be able to say, "Buffy get your rope! [or whatever the tug toy is]" and she'll bring it over for a game. In fact, she'll start bringing you the toy to try to engage you, rather than starting out with your ankles.

    Hope this helps! Please be sure to follow the highlighted links in my post for more info. Please keep us posted.
  9. Dlilly Honored Member

    I had a similar problem with my 11 month old Australian Kelpie, except he was trying to play AND herd me. O_o One thing that worked when he was just playing with me was to leave the room. When I would stand still, he would still play with my hands and feet. So if the standing still doesn't work, leaving the room may.

    I have bruises all over my arms and scratches on my legs from him trying to herd and play with me…. I don't think I'd be alive right now if the members on here didn't give me any advice on how to stop it! (That's a joke… He wouldn't kill me. :LOL:)
    MaryK, Dogster and southerngirl like this.
  10. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Actually I am the one that does all the training with her. We both feed her and play with her, but only I do the training. I bet it is because I taste better than my partner though! LOL ;)
    MaryK likes this.
  11. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Thank you! That is all such helpful advice! :)
    I really want to start clicker training with her so I will try to find a clicker in a pet store next week. She has got a puppy kong, she wasn't interested in it at all until last night I tried soaking some biscuits and cheese in it and she got stuck into it! :D
    I think I do have to exercise her a bit more. I usually do two or three 5-10 minute training sessions and 10 minutes of paying fetch etc in the backyard each day.
    Dogster and southerngirl like this.
  12. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Okay guys so here's the latest on Buffy's nipping...

    I have been trying the 'TREE' today. But she does not stop at all and my pants were getting ripped apart (not to mention it hurt A LOT) and since I don't have any baby gates I have had to walk into another room each time she does it. Because my house is generally open with only doors on the bedrooms and bathroom, I have to walk all the way down the hallway to the bathroom with her nipping my legs and pulling on my pants.. I think I will try to find something i can put between myself and the lounge room opening.. I gave her her kong again today and she loves it now. Have been trying lots of games, exercise and training - she has endless amounts of energy :rolleyes:
  13. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    I think Buffy might be having some progress already! :D Buffy was nipping my legs as I walked to the bathroom, but when I got to the door she stopped and looked at me as if she knew what was going to happen. So when she stopped I turned around and praised her and gave her a toy. :)
    Dogster and southerngirl like this.
  14. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    I'm glad she's starting to get it. I would favor re-orienting her to a toy more than the tree; for sure I wouldn't make her stopping to be a requirement of getting the toy. And I'd get a nice tug rope or something to start training tug, because she wants to chew and she also wants to engage you in play. If she's being relentless in her focus on you and your pants (!), you can tether her to the couch leg or something else very solid (so she can't move it and scare herself) and walk out of leash range. Do it quickly and silently so that she says 'huh?' and tries to figure out why you've left her. Give her no attention, and then go sit down again, and rush out of range if she starts up. At the same time, have a 'legal' alternative available to biting you -- one of the principles of training is to always indicate what you want the dog to do, rather than constantly tell the dog what you don't want.

    If you're interested in training, one program I recommend is Sue Ailsby's Training Levels. She's a Canadian trainer who has created a start-to-finish basics training program which includes Zen (Leave It), Sit, Down, Come, Retrieve, etc. , all broken down to baby steps that make it non-intimidating for both dog and human. There's a book, but it's expensive (shipping only from Canada) but you can also get it as an e-book. Her site is . She has an old version of her book for free on the site, but if you have an e-reader, the new version is probably better. There are a few people on this board who are doing the Levels with their dogs.

    Lastly, if there are any basic training classes for puppies in your area, run by someone who uses reward-based training, I would recommend going. It's great for social purposes, but it's also great because it helps the puppy practice focusing on you in a very distracting environment (which = life outside the house!).

    Please do keep us posted with the puppy progress :)
  15. MaryK Honored Member

    As you do all her training she just may target you more, this happened with my youngster. LOL oh yes it probably is because you taste better than your partner, all that yummy body lotion, enough to send a pup wild with delight!:LOL:
    xXbuffyXx likes this.
  16. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    LOL! :LOL:
    MaryK likes this.
  17. xXbuffyXx Active Member

    Thank you! I will definitely look at the book as it sounds like something I would love to use. Buffy has her last session of puppy pre-school tomorrow but I am going to see if there are any other puppy classes in the area which focus more on training. The one she is going to doesn't have much training, its mostly the vet nurse talking to us and showing us how to clean their ears. brush their teeth etc etc (stuff I already know as I have my certificate 2 in vet nurse assisting). They didn't let the dogs off lead together which i thought they should have to teach them how to play with other dogs.
    MaryK likes this.

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