Author Topic: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...  (Read 415 times)

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Offline Solace

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How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« on: July 09, 2017, 01:59:10 PM »
How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when he doesn't want to play with the puppies in Puppy Kindergarten.  He's been three times and wants nothing to do with them.  He is fine sniffing any adult dog's nose for a moment, but he doesn't want to be anywhere near puppies.  He wont play with either adults or puppies.

Offline responsiblek9

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 02:11:59 PM »
They learn bite inhibition with their littermates. So if he was with them until at least 8 weeks he probably will be fine.
He may not want to play with rude overwhelming stranger pups who have no polite greeting and may not themselves have been with their own littermates long enough to learn bite inhibition.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 03:23:42 PM »
He also learns from you.  When he played with litermates and his mother, they were all furcovered.  Humans have bare flesh and he's going to have to figure out that he needs an even softer touch with them.  So when he clips you with his teeth, either in play or when taking food or treats from your hand, you need to let him know he used too much force.  You can do it in the same way his siblings and mother did, by yelping (imitate the sound of a puppy who got stepped on), by restraining him and saying "no!" firmly or by shunning (refusing to play or interact with him for a few minutes each time).

I disagree that 8 weeks is always going to be enough time to learn sufficient bite inhibition.  It may be for some puppies, but won't be for others.

I agree that it matters whether the puppies in puppy kindergarten are overwhelming.  If you put a shy, aloof or retiring puppy in with some rambunctious labs who tear around and crash, yes, he's going to avoid them because they are uncouth.  Instead, look for a puppy or puppies in the class that are of a similar size and personality and see if you can arrange a private play date with just them.  At least initially you want small puppies playing with other small puppies and quiet puppies playing with other quiet puppies.  Then you can gradually increase size or rambunctiousness as his confidence grows by arranging other play dates.

My current dog (now five) was a fluffy little bruiser as a little puppy.  He was waaaay too much for a little chihuahua puppy for example.  And there was a hound puppy that he used to sit on (oddly it turned out the hound puppy thought that was okay, but I did not). But he got on fabulously with lab puppies who liked to run fast and occasionally crash into each other. 

I've also been on the other end, with the shy puppy and in that case I let her sit in my lap and interact at her own pace with other puppies who approached.  I did not pet or coddle her but let her use me as a fort and if a puppy came running in about to crash I put out a hand to divert him so he didn't crash into her.  I played with the other puppies, to encourage them to approach and to show her I liked them and they were nice.  Eventually she would wander from home base and play and then return when she was unsure.

As adults both of these very different dogs now get along as best friends.  Tardis learned some manners and Ruby learned to stand up for herself and tell him where to go when he was rude.  Occasionally Ruby will bite him, but not hard enough to injure the skin (or wipe the dorky grin off his face).  He doesn't bite her, but occasionally he'll give a little rumble and then she'll give him space.
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Offline Solace

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 04:04:05 PM »
Thank you for the replies.

He has 8 weeks in a litter of 11.

We have been teaching him bite inhibition at home.  I just don't think we're as effective as other puppies.  He's gotten somewhat better with it, unless he is overstimulated/overtired/zoomy.  Also, he nips people's feet.  Not mine.  Just everyone else who lives here.  My feet he just licks... obsessively... with crazy whale eyes. LOL  I know the feet/ankle nipping is normal for a herding dog, but since he's going to be a service dog, and he is a German Shepherd, I really want him to have stellar bite inhibition!

Offline Solace

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 04:09:14 PM »
Oh!  Also, they do separate us in Puppy Kindergarten.  They put whoever is calmest with him.  He won't wander away from me without being lured and as soon as the lure goes away, he retreats to me or a corner or another human and lays down and ignores everything.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2017, 04:17:05 PM »
How do I say this?  Some GSDs are breedist, and by that I mean they are only interested in members of their own breed (like racist, but with dogs).  Luna was breedist.  Tardis, oddly, identifies more with australian shepherds than with German shepherds, which I'm guessing has something to do with texture.  He's the only coatie he knows, other than siblings he hasn't seen since he was 8 weeks old.  As a breed, they also tend to aloofness.
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"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Solace

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2017, 04:37:02 PM »
I will try to stop worrying then.

I will also have a serious talk with him about the importance of embracing differences in others...  :tongue2:

Offline Kirsten

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 05:55:27 PM »
If he's ignoring the other puppies but not avoiding them, he's probably okay (aloof).  If he avoids them or gets upset when they invade his personal space then you might need to intervene (shy).

Aloofness is okay, so long as he's interested in working cooperatively with you (likes to follow you, play with you, train with you).  It is a desired trait in the breed.  Shyness is not desired and can be a problem (avoids or shows signs of stress).  A typical shepherd will ignore people who aren't members of his family.  He doesn't dislike them or feel uncomfortable with them, but they might as well be tumbleweeds because he just doesn't care.  Again, that's okay as long as he doesn't treat his own people that way.  He should be fine with being petted by anyone, just maybe acting like he doesn't notice they are there.  Not duck his head or try to move away, just pretending they don't exist.

Of course it is also okay if he likes interacting with people so long as that doesn't become a distraction.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Online Moonsong

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 06:12:24 PM »
I will also have a serious talk with him about the importance of embracing differences in others...  :tongue2:

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Offline Solace

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Re: How does a puppy learn bite inhibition when...
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 11:36:53 PM »
He was shy, scared actually, the first two weeks.  It's the only place he's ever shown fear since I've had him, and he's been exposed to many different things.  With adult dogs and chickens on his first time meeting them he hesitated briefly and then went in to investigate.  But with the puppies he was clearly scared at first.  It didn't help that they like to run head long full speed into his face.  This last week he wasn't showing fear, but disinterest.  Even when one got around the back of him twice and chilled out against his backside, he didn't care, but he also didn't engage.  So he's also aloof once the shyness wears off.

With everything non-puppy he's aloof.  Even with large trucks driving around and a screaming gaggle of children and fireworks, he doesn't care.  It's just the puppies.

He isn't aloof with me.  He's very cuddly and follows me wherever I go.  He loves training.  He likes interacting with everyone in the family.  He greets guests and then trots back to me and goes about his day.  He even likes the other puppy parents in kindergarten.  When the trainer asks me to walk around the room so that he gets up and moves around, he'll sometimes park by another human and lay down.  He's fine with people petting him when we're out.

So I guess he is shy only with other puppies, but he's getting over it and we are working on it, aloof once that wears off, friendly/curious and then aloof with strangers, and interested in his family members.  That's my understanding of his dog psychology so far.