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How to correct a nippy bitey puppy and establish a pack heiarchy in your home.

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Pitts, May 23, 2010.

  1. Pitts

    Pitts Hot Topics Subscriber

    I answered a post on another forum that was from a guy with a doberman puppy that was exhibiting dominate bitey nipping behavior and I thought Id share it here as well as it might could help some out there with the same issues.
    I hope this helps......

    You have to start out understanding that dobermans are first and foremost a protection breed, and they wont be a soft mouthed dog like a lab is. Therefore their biting and nipping can really cause pain and damage. Redirecting is good to help to teach the dog self confidence and allow them to play and tug with you. But with a pup like this you have to teach it its place in the heiarchy, You see pups learn from their mom how to pick their place in the pack and to respect the mom as the pack leader, this is done with the mouth as this is pretty much all they have to work with, when pups are young the mom will begin to growl or warn the pups away when they come near her food, this is how an alpha presents itself to the pack as leader and how the mom tells the pups she is the leader, she even sometimes nips the pups to get her message across, this teaches them to respect her and again their place under her in the pack. now the pups will also do this to each other, nipping and biting during play, this establishes their rank in the pack as the stronger higher ranking members bite and fight harder than the lower ranking members.

    Therefore you have to realize that when a pup comes into your home this is all it knows and it will apply this behavior to you and its new human family, and this is why they will bite and nip you, grab your pants legs and pull, etc. this is how they play and how they test their rank in the new pack. You will hear them bark and growl when they do this, just like they would with their littermates.

    Now that being said, the pup will accept you as the pack leader once you correct this biting behavior. this puts you as the leader and then shows the pup where its place in the pack is.
    Now you need to remember that as the pup grows he will continually test his place and when this is done you have to correct him and put him in his place, this can be easily done by, when he bites or nips, you quickly give a NO correction simply grab the pup by the scruff of the neck or sides of the cheeks and firmly say NO, do this everytime he tries this and he will learn you are the leader and what you say goes. Now dont shake the dog or slam it to the ground or alpha roll it or any of this silly stuff, that can hurt your pup physically and mentally, just firmly grasp the neck and cheek scruff and say NO, this is like the mom grabbing em by the neck and growling, and it will get your point across.

    I will give a few examples of pack behavior for you to look for, this might help especially since you have another dog in the house.

    1- When a dog jumps up and/or humps your leg, that’s a pack behavior.
    2- When a dog charges past you to get out the door, that’s a pack behavior. Pack leader go through doors and gates first.
    3- When a dog barks like crazy at another dog that’s a pack behavior.
    4- When a dog drags his owner down the street on a walk, that’s pack behavior. Pack leaders always go first.
    5- When a dog tries to fight with another dog, that’s a pack behavior. Pack leaders say when and who to fight.
    6- When a dog growls for moving it aside when you get in your bed or on your furniture. That’s pack behavior and needs to be dealt with.
    7- When a dog growls at you for disturbing it as you walk by as it sleeps that’s a problem with rank behavior in the pack.

    Hope this helps.

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  2. Apollo

    Apollo Novitiate

    great post Dale, thanks so much for sharing and i'm sure it will help alot of people to understand their dogs much better :)
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Dobs4ever

    Dobs4ever Hot Topics Subscriber

    Pitts - thanks for sharing this info. I nearly fall out of my chair when I read those post that say "MY puppy is aggressive - I need help" People buy a dog that is a dominant breed and then expect it to behave like a lab. I call them labs in dobe suits. This is incorrect temperament. I try to explain that it is a BABY not a dangerous dog. A BABY that has to learn the rules and who is top dog. I hope all new puppy owners read your post 10 times. Gosh I would worry if my puppies did not growl and nip at this age.
    • Like Like x 8
  4. Penkeepe

    Penkeepe Member


    I had to giggle when I read this. For the most part this will work UNLESS you have the one that learns very quickly that if they do the nip you and then run like hell, they will not get corrected. We had one like this and it was a daily battle with her for 9 years. :rolleyes:

    She was extremely well behaved in 'close quarters' but when you got outside with her where she had room to run, you better be ever careful with her or she would get you. She was not mean, she just knew when she had the advantage and had fun with it. Fun to her usually meant nasty bruises for me. Capt. Max would have enjoyed her.

    • Like Like x 5
  5. MLR

    MLR Novitiate

    Great post Pitts. You've described dobe puppy behavior completely and how to get control effectively early on. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  6. hrd2gt

    hrd2gt Well-Known Member

    Great info! When I got both of my dobes, both were smaller than all of my italians, the smallest is 15lbs. They also are a lot older, so it just happened that they sorted out the pecking order and it has stuck so far for 3 years. My three small dogs are all alpha to the dobes, the smallest is head honcho! The pup will try to mess around with him, but when he is done he will set her in her place like nobodies business. If she comes back then I step in and regulate (lol)

    But dont get me wrong! I am def head alpha bitch in my house, LOL... I got it down to a glare is all I need to check any of my dogs!
    • Like Like x 3
  7. BreesMom

    BreesMom Novitiate

    Great post full of some really good information!!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Pitts

    Pitts Hot Topics Subscriber

    I am glad that you guys are finding this post helpful and especially thank you for all the compliments. I just like to help when I can, after all we were all noobies once and had no idea what we were doing. LOL
    • Like Like x 9
  9. Marinegeekswife

    Marinegeekswife Hot Topics Subscriber

    Thank you for acknowledging that. Not everyone thinks that way I'm afraid.
    • Like Like x 4
  10. Pitts

    Pitts Hot Topics Subscriber

    Well, I certainly do, and truthfully I still learn new things all the time, and there are times I smack myself in the head and say, WOW that was stupid. LOL.
    You have to remembe that the day we stop learning, is the day we start dying.
    • Like Like x 5
  11. dixieland

    dixieland Novitiate

    Thanks so much for posting this.I found it very helpful,as well as a ton of other posts I've been reading on this site!
    • Like Like x 2
  12. MyBuddy

    MyBuddy Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I totally agree!

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  13. ButterflyMommy

    ButterflyMommy New Member

    What a perfect time for me to find and read this, thanks so much for posting this!
    • Like Like x 1
  14. irishgypsie

    irishgypsie Member

    But dont get me wrong! I am def head alpha bitch in my house, LOL... I got it down to a glare is all I need to check any of my dogs!

    LOL hrd I'm the same way...all it takes it "the LOOK" and I don't care how juicy the tid bit is...if I say "drop it" it's dropped pronto...they all have their own beds and don't sleep in mine (they sleep in my room with me..but on their OWN beds) ..and to me it doesn't matter what the breed, they should all be trained that the human is the alpha.
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  15. hrd2gt

    hrd2gt Well-Known Member

    Oh, well, Karma sleeps in her bed but Fate sleeps at the foot of my bed. Not sure, she is very attached to me and I kind of want to keep that protective bond since she will be taught schutz/pp. As for the Italians, I crate them now at nite, only cuz I wont get any sleep, lol! But sometimes I will let them out and they are all under blanket, and half to touch me... GAH. gets sooo hot, thats why i crate during week. LOL

    As for learning, I think I always a natural alpha, but one thing I cant do, is take a rescue and rehab it. Not sure why. So I tend to get puppies that I can groom and raise how I need too.
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  16. Sammi's Dad

    Sammi's Dad New Member

    When you say "Grab them by the scruff of the neck", could you explain that in a little more detail??

    Do you mean to simply grab the scruff, and not pull them back at all?? We just have a little puppy and you can just about get a full handfull and her not even notice it.

    Or do you mean to grab them up by the scuff like a cat (aka pick them up, or almost pic them up, or to just pull back enough for it to pull their mouth away from what they are biting)?

    My puppy get on streaks where she is relentless. She will start biting my feet, and I will pull her away by the scruff, yell no. Then she will go right back for my feet, and bite them again. We will repeat this about 50x. Is this typical for a young puppy (8 weeks)??

    I feel like she is too young to actually learn right now, and that she will respond better as she grows older.
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  17. Jewels

    Jewels Member

    I wouldn't suggest yelling no- but rather grabbing by scruff (like a cat picks up young I would grab ruby by scruff and pull up -not where she was off ground but so I knew she knew what she did wrong) and then in a calm but dominant voice state No, shouting will just make dog fearful, so just say No but use the "tone" you know what tone the I am mad at you tone- Dogs react to certain tones - high pitched tones usually mean play time like when you get excited to play with her your tone changes and she knows that. Yes she is a baby but she is also a doberman!! They are one of the world's smartest breeds and trust me they learn so fast my girl had sit, shake, down,& speak all in the first week we brought her home (8 weeks old) and I am not a professional dog trainer (my sister is but she lives in another state, I am just passionate about teaching / learning) My little Ruby is now 4 months old and knows these tricks - Sit, Stay, lay down, look sad (she puts head on ground and looks up like super sad), speak, bang(shoot her with finger gun), spin around, sit up, shake, high five, come, drop it, and leave it, she waits till I say ok once I pour her food/water (so I don't get bum rushed I taught her that), we are currently working on roll over and crawl, (which she knows how to do both she just does them sporadically so we are working on that) she puts her paws up for her harness to be put on, and she jumps up and off things when I ask her to (like the couch), she knows "crate" means to go into her crate, oh we are also working on growl. Dobies are never to young to learn trust me! my little girl is 17 weeks now like I said got her at 8 weeks now she is 17 weeks and learned all that within that time frame. Also don't try to over work her- work on one thing at a time and when she starts learning gradually add in more. I don't like to use treats when training because I feel dog gets dependent on the treats for praise so in some of those commands I didn't use treats others I did (crate needed treats and occasionally still does to get her to focus but other tricks the treats distract her)
    • Like Like x 5
  18. Pitts

    Pitts Hot Topics Subscriber

    Jewel did a good job of explaining this. You grab the loose skin around the face and neck and use it to control the dog, while giving a firm commanding NO. this teaches the dog, that you are the alpha and that what it is doing is not acceptable behavior to you.
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  19. Teufelhund in AZ

    Teufelhund in AZ Active Member

    You could also head alot of that naughty behavior off at the pass by noting what time of day she is most bitey and take her out and channel it into a bitey game before she starts getting fixated. I use a longe whip for horses with a wooley toy tied to the tassle as a lure. Then I drag it across the ground and let my boy pounce bite and kill the toy until properly tired. Once back home I can give him a bully stick or a cow hoof and get some peace everytime. By scheduling regular activities my boy (now 5 months) has a very active and reliable life that aims to provide for all of his primal needs as well as training for good doggie citizenship. He is not a bitey guy... despite my recent thread meant to be very tongue in cheek. Teufel has a very soft mouth for a five month old and much prefers his toys to my hands anyday. I think in many ways Doberman puppies are like kids with ADHD, sometimes they are just fine with negative or positive interactions as long as they get your attention. Like von C says: a tired dobe is a happy dobe... oh, and Train em up! There is a tremendous amount of truth and wisdom to those few words.
    below is a picture of the Flirt pole (horse whip with toy attached) game we play

    Edit to add: To the OP everyone is giving great advice. Pitts is a very experienced trainer with a great deal of insight. My post is intended as a supplemental idea for further management not a subsitute for a fair correction.
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  20. Sammi's Dad

    Sammi's Dad New Member

    1) What if they continue to try and nip and bite you while you grab them??

    2) Also what if you let them go, and they immediately go to try and bite you again??

    What I have been doing in these situations is 1) to basically try and move may hand to a point where she cant get me (she will try). I wont full pick her up, but I will lift up more and more until it gets harder for her to try and turn her head and nip at me. 2) I will grab her as many times as she tries to go after me. We will do it 50x in a row if need be.
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