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Help with communicating to hand reared staffy

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Rich T Biskit, Jan 2, 2021.

  1. Rich T Biskit

    Rich T Biskit PetForums Newbie

    Jan 2, 2021
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    Hi, so I have a new Staffordshire bull terrier pup, 11 weeks old, who was hand reared and (although in many ways is a lovely dog) is proving almost impossible to communicate what he shouldn’t be doing.

    the biggest issue is over excitement and biting/nipping. (It’s not aggressive biting, it’s soft play biting but given his razor sharp teeth and inability to stop him it’s a real issue).

    he isn’t stupid, or deaf, and has learnt “sit” in seconds, very calm taking treats, sits nicely when fed etc. Adding new commands isn’t a problem.

    The problem is despite trying everything I can think of, we simply can’t seem to communicate when he is doing something unacceptable - most importantly nipping and mouthing.

    for example:

    tried distracting with toy - occasionally works but only for seconds at best

    tried ignoring him and moving hands clear - he goes after clothes or feet

    tried “yelping” - he doesn’t understand and just carries on

    tried “barking” no loudly at him - he thinks it’s part of the game

    tried grabbing scruff of the neck and putting him down on floor (worked well with my last puppy) - again thinks it’s the game and he just fights and gets more excited!

    I am genuinely stuck as to what to try next. He is just excited and playing, but I am at a loss as to how to communicate with him for “no”.

    if anyone has any suggestions I am all ears.......
  2. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

    Feb 12, 2009
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    He sounds like a normal puppy to me and by trying all those things that he thinks are a game he is just enjoying his games with you more and more. Scruffing him is not a good idea, you are lucky he thinks it is a game and that you are not upsetting him.

    Distracting with a toy is your best idea so far but if that is not working the best thing is to turn your back on him and fold your arms and completely ignore him till he gets bored. Or walk out of the room or put him out of the room just for a few minutes. In other words stop all interaction with him. He will grow out of it and most puppies are exactly the same and that stage can drive you mad. If he was hand reared was he with litter mates or did he not learn to interact and play with other dogs - not that it makes a lot of difference but it might make it a bit harder to switch him off.
  3. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

    Oct 27, 2018
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    I have to say, I prefer the ‘ignore him’ method. If he carries on going at you (and that’s very likely), then leave the room for a minute. He should learn that biting leads to end of fun. However, you need to pick one option and stick to it - trying different things as you’ve been doing probably has not helped. And be aware of ‘extinction burst’ where he’ll seem to try even harder, and you’ll think you’re failing to get through when, actually, he’s starting to get the message, but he’s just trying hard to keep it going. Persevere and you’ll get there, but it may take time.
    Good luck.
  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    Scruffing a dog and holding them down is a very outdated way of dealing with a dog and could go horribly wrong.

    The dog could shut down, which stops the behaviour but leaves the dog anxious and unhappy, or the dog eventually takes exception to such rough handling and bites the handler.
    O2.0 likes this.
  5. Emlar

    Emlar PetForums Member

    Sep 29, 2020
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    Our puppy is 10 weeks and does the same. Its definitely worse when he's over tired/over excited so its a cue for us to try and calm and settle him. We figure its typical puppy behaviour and he will eventually learn that we don't play when he does that and will grow out of it....hopefully!
  6. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    May 23, 2018
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    11 week old puppies bite, it's in their job description. I'd be worried if he were an 11 week old puppy not biting you, or at least trying to.
    We have an over a year old 'puppy' who still bites from time to time, it's how pups connect with you, and wanting to connect with you is a good thing.

    Please don't scruff him and hold him down. That's very outdated advice and think about what you're communicating to him. He's trying to be with you and you're responding with the doggy version of violence. That's extremely confusing to a pup and damaging to your relationship. It's going to make it harder in the long run to teach him things like recall and to trust you when it comes to handling other dogs.

    Here's my advice. Put on old clothes and shoes, distract as you can, ignore what you can, and take it all stoically. He will outgrow his need to bite, but he won't (hopefully) outgrow his desire to connect with you. Just teach him how to do it appropriately. Teach him to play with toys and interact with him with toys, and fun games and training.

    But at 11 weeks, you have a while to go yet before those needle teeth aren't hurting you. It's par for the course.
    Lurcherlad likes this.
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