Is This Nipping Or A Warning??

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Dlilly, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Dlilly Honored Member

    *Sigh* Another problem…. I was teaching Rory to sit on his mat yesterday. I started to add some distance, and I would point my hand towards the mat and say 'Mat'. When I lifted my hand and pointed, Rory looked as if he was trying to nip or bite my hand. It's hard to explain, and I'm not sure what he was trying to do… I then showed him my hand, I thought he was thinking I had treats in my hand, but he did it again. He hasn't bit or nipped my hand because I have ninja skills…. :ninja:

    I then just tried saying 'Mat', and had my hands behind my back, and he did it again. O_o

    I stayed calm and told him 'kennel', and he did it again, then ran to his kennel. :eek: He LOVES his kennel, and I send him in there if he gets too wound up, or in this case, starts to freak me out. He's a little butt head and will have a freak attacked if I grab him by the collar and put him in there. I didn't want to touch him because he was acting odd too. (He doesn't attack me, but he'll fall on the floor and try to put my whole hand in his mouth. :mad:)

    I'm not sure why he is doing this, and I'm sorry for so few details. I may as well ask, is it aggression? Is he seeing my hand move and nipping it because he wants to herd me or something? He loves people… I don't hit him or let him play with my hands. Maybe he just hit his head too many times on the pool table? :p
    MaryK likes this.

  2. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    Luka (70lb Giant Schnauzer mix) has a similar behavior when he is excited - he will take my whole hand into his mouth and hold it - he isn't exerting pressure but you can feel his teeth touch the skin.

    Is he being aggressive - not at all - some dogs are more oral than others and with Luka anyway he will also do it when he is feeling particularly affectionate - he will put his mouth on my forearm or elbow and just hold it.

    But when he is excited is when I see it the most. So I am doing two things:
    1) Capturing it to turn it into a "Hold My Hand" trick - imagine crossing the road like you would with a child and asking them to hold your hand.
    2) Deterring him from doing it to other people - he surprised a friend by doing it to her the other day and she freaked out a little. So we are teaching a nose bump in the place of open mouth.

    I don't know if it is the same - maybe a video would help?
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  3. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Dlilly

    Hmmm I'm most concerned that you're concerned, that something may have prickled your "spidey sense." Based on your description, it does sound to me like he's being mouthy. I agree with Pawtential, teaching him to interact with his face without biting (teaching a nose bump) might help give him a more benign default. You can also teach some paw things (give me five, target w/ paw) to give him another outlet. Of course I'm not saying that wanton nose bumping and pawing is what you want, but these are acceptable I'm-a-puppy-who-can't-control-myself-yet fallbacks.

    If a dog really wants to bite, they are so much faster that none of us is ninja enough to get out of the way if the movement is sudden on their part.

    Do you have any videos of these behaviors? What does a freak attack mean? Screaming, thrashing, etc. or just getting hyped up and mouthy? Has he ever growled or guarded from you?
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  4. bekah1001 Honored Member

    When Brody gets frustrated he use to grab the closet thing to him and rip it apart, never a hand but he did get a garbage bag
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  5. MaryK Honored Member

    Ra Kismet has always been an oral dog. He will still take my hand in his mouth, especially when he's sitting on my lap (yes I have a 21.7 kilo lap dog). There's no aggression at all, he's just showing his affection, but he can sometimes still 'forget' I'm human not dog. So I just say quietly 'not too hard Rakins" and he'll stop being roughish. I've never played with him using my hands though. He'll also do it occasionally when we're training too.

    My older boy Zeus does it all the time when he's over excited, usually when I'm getting him ready for a walk, he's a bit rough though but again a quiet warning 'leave click/treat' stops him.

    I agree, ninja moves are useless when a dog really means 'I'm gonna seriously bite you' though they will generally give plenty of warning signals to 'back off' first.

    The tips given above are great. Nose bump is a good one to teach Rory.
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  6. SD&B Experienced Member

    I like the explanations offered by the others. Some dogs really like things in their mouths and some of those dogs like hands. I've seen it with Sundog and Barney when they get excited. When Sundog gets excited, she loves to have a toy in her mouth. Barney loves to mouth my hands or pants legs when I come home. The suggestions of teaching an alternative behavior sound great. Could you redirect him to carry a toy or object to satisfy that oral urge?
    MaryK likes this.
  7. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Dlilly, can I recommend something? I have no answers for your particular issues at hand (I think we'd have to see videos, and could discuss at length what's going on) .... I do have a suggestion. It won't solve anything quickly, but may help down the road. When I first adopted Makena 6 yrs ago, she was VERY high energy (thank goodness she's calmed down) - and reactive. Sound familiar? I tried figuring things out by myself, reading, etc - and finally found our training center which is amazing, and they helped me sort so much out. One thing (besides their Feisty Fido class) they highly recommended, was Leslie McDevitt's book Control Unleashed. There's also a DVD set and book. I highly recommend it and urge you to get it, read it, and start working some of the exercises with Rory. There are a lot of self-control exercises and games in the book. I seem to recall you wanting Rory for herding and maybe agility (am I making that up?) - she gears the book for agility because it's such a high stress environment and we ask so much of dogs - altho all dogs can work the exercises, anytime, anywhere. (We don't do agility, never did - and found the book fabulous!). She also has some videos on Youtube and a Yahoo! group. She's highly regarded, and I think you'd get so much out of it. The exercises help reactive dogs because they help with focus and self-control (Makena, Rory), and they help high-energy dogs learn to bring it down (Makena, Rory). :D Hang in there - a lot of it's also his age, and he will grow up!
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  8. Dlilly Honored Member

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  9. Dlilly Honored Member

    Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'm going to order it right now!
    MaryK likes this.
  10. Anneke Honored Member

    I think jackienmutts makes sence. I feel like it is a self control thing.
    Maybe he doesn't quite understand what you mean, or doesn't want to do what you ask and lets the frustration out by grabbing/nipping at you. Not to be mean.
    I do think doing a lot of self control exercises will help in the long run.
    Rory is still a young dog and he hasn't had the best start in his training life.
    So I feel that working on self control will help him;)
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  11. MaryK Honored Member

    I agree with everyone's advice. Ra Kismet went through a period of nipping, quite hard at times, around the same age as Rory. It's the onset of adolescence and they can get nippy. They seem to 'forget' all their previous training and I had to work on self control a lot with Ra Kismet around that age.

    Keep working on self control exercise at this stage and don't worry too much about other tricks. He's very young still and the grabbing and nipping when you go to rub his stomach is again, lack of self control.

    When he rolls on his back for a belly rub, ask for sit, then click/treat. Don't give him a belly rub if he's just going to nip you. Does he only nip with belly rubs when he's excited? If he calm can you give him a belly rub?
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  12. JazzyandVeronica Honored Member

    //Freak attack means falling on the floor and laying on his back, like he wants a belly rub. He will start kicking or nipping my hand if I try to grab his collar. //

    I had to laugh at the above because I have so been on the receiving end; of what we used to call Veronica's adolescent tantrums!! Pretty much whenever you wanted her to go somewhere she didn't want to or stop something she didn't want to; she would throw herself on the ground belly up and if you tried to reach for her to take her collar or physically move her; she would begin thrashing around with her head going from side to side like a pirrahna...don't know if her intention was to actually nip, but with her jaws air snapping. In my head I could hear her screaming "Get away!! Noo! Noooo! Doooon't wanna!!" NOW it's funny; back when it was happening, it was infuriating!! (My mom used to say it reminded her of me, when I was 2 and she took me to the mall in the dead of winter and when it was time to leave, I flat out, full on tantrum refused to put my coat back on.) :D

    Anywho...the Control Unleashed stuff is excellent.

    Also check out:
    Karen Overall's Protocol for relaxation:

    And some Doggy Zen exercises:

    Also...I'm not sure if I can/should say this here...I respect that this site is all positive in training methods; and I am probably 95 - 98% positive myself...but sometimes with a behavior like this that you find worrisome and unacceptable...I personally would verbally correct and tell the dog "No" or "anht - anht", followed by withdrawing attention for a few seconds. (I figure if the dog through his behavior is telling me he doesn't like what I'm doing; then it is only fair that I let him know that his behavior isn't exactly all chocolates and roses either :p). If the verbal correction is too strong and something you prefer not to use; you could consider maybe turning your back and withdrawing attention for a few seconds when presented with the nipping behavior.
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  13. JazzyandVeronica Honored Member

    Oh forgot to add that I agree with other's who commented that the behavior is not aggression, but rather a lack of self control/over excitement.

    If your dog is in the adolecent stage as MaryK indicated...then that would be enough for me to explain it. Adolescent dogs = BRATS. :rolleyes:
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  14. MaryK Honored Member

    J & V BRAT is the perfect word for adolescent dogs! It's what I often thought when Ra Kismet was going through this stage - it's far worse then the puppy stage because you KNOW full well they also KNOW what you want them to do. They do grow out of it eventually and suddenly remember all they learned as puppies. My vet would just say "Teenagers" and laugh!
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  15. MaryK Honored Member

    J & V BRAT is the perfect word to describe a dog's adolescent behavior. It's the most frustrating time of all with all dogs. You know full well they KNOW what you want and what to do but getting them to do it is ............. frustrating shall we say:rolleyes: As my vet used to say about Ra Kismet "He's a teenager" and laugh! They do grow out of the brattish behavior and suddenly remember all they were taught as a puppy and forget all the 'naughty' ways, it does happen. Hang in there Rory is not aggressive just being a total Brat!

    In the meantime, so you survive his adolescence without having a nervous breakdown, all the advice given above will help him now and in the future when he matures.
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  16. MaryK Honored Member

    Sorry about the almost double post, cat was helping at the time, wasn't sure if the first went through:eek::confused:
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