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It's More Than Play Biting


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Lena has always been a play biter, when we come home from being away she nips at our wrists or arms or backs of our legs. I have always yelled "no" when she did that to me and she would immediately stop. She also nips at Isabelle whenever she gets excited... for example: if they hounds are outside and they see a squirrel they all get up and go to the fence and start barking, Lena immediately starts nipping at Isabelle's neck or back of her legs. She sometimes does this to the other hounds but it's mostly Isabelle.

 

Lena was always a little unsure of strange men but only when they come onto our property or into our house. She is never like that out in public. Most recently her behavior has gotten a lot worse. She has now bit 3 people, me being one of those 3. She bit our air conditioning guy on the calf muscle ( he was doing nothing wrong, just standing there while I signed some papers,) she bit my arm ( I had just come back to the house after being down at my neighbor's house) and she bit a gentleman that came over to pick something up yesterday (all he was doing was standing in the driveway talking to us, she bit his calf muscle.) All incidents she has not broken skin, all incidents were lightning quick and she gave no warning. No growling or barking just walk up sniff, sniff and snap! I am thankful that the men were understanding but the next person may not be. I don't want her to be labeled as a viscious dog! She is the kindest, sweetest little slip of a girl and loves to cuddle with us. We are so upset about this behavior.

 

We don't want to have to muzzle her every time people come to our house we want to fix the problem! Please help us!

 

I assume our first step is to take her in for a check-up (blood work etc..)?

 

Thank you in advance for any help or advice.

Edited by greytdecals

Suzie Collins

Owner/Artist Skinny Hound Designs

Greyhound decals, magnets and signs.

Fur kids: Isabelle and Petey

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Guest SusanP

Yes, I would say vet check, but for the time being, I *would* muzzle her when visitor are over. You don't want her in big trouble as a biter before you can work this out. How long have you had her? How old is she? Others will have more advice than I do. :grouphug

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Yes, I would say vet check, but for the time being, I *would* muzzle her when visitor are over. You don't want her in big trouble as a biter before you can work this out. How long have you had her? How old is she? Others will have more advice than I do. :grouphug

We will muzzle her when others are over but I would like to not have to :(

 

We have had her since April of 2008. She was our foster dog, but we officially adopted her on July 29, 2008. She is 4 years old now.

Suzie Collins

Owner/Artist Skinny Hound Designs

Greyhound decals, magnets and signs.

Fur kids: Isabelle and Petey

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My brain isn't firing on all cylinders today but let me give this a try:

 

The behavior with Isabelle just sounds like regular boisterous yard play. Salem does this to Inu almost every day in an attempt to get some real play started.

 

In terms of the human bites they remind me of a girl I've gotten to know recently who bites out of fear and also never breaks the skin. Can you keep her blocked from incoming guests until she has the chance for calm interaction? I'm thinking when the guest enters all the dogs are blocked in another room and she is they allowed to meet the person one on one without the other dogs and the guest has a cookie to make the interaction positive. Is she food motivated?

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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Suzi, it sounds like she has some misplaced aggression brought on by excitement. JoeyB has this. He's not as bad now as he was when he first came home but we're going on two years now that I've been working with him. First, carry a squirt bottle on your hip, if Lena starts to go after you or one of the dogs, squirt her, this will get her attention, once you have her attention tell her "come or come here", if she complies treat her. If she doesn't go get her, bring her to you saying "come" and then treat her. The hardest part is getting their attention when they get excited. JoeyB was horrible. He would climb on the backs of the dogs when the door bell rang, Mike or Kevin would come home, or even the garage door going up would send him into a state of over excitement. With him, I would have to squirt and go get and bring him to me and hold him until the excitement was over, then tell him good boy and treat.

 

It's one of the hardest behaviors to deal with. If you're going to have company, I'd muzzle her while you train her as she's already bitten (nipped) 3 time. Watch and see what sets her off and duplicate the situation if you can with Brians help and work with her that way. It may take some time but I know it can be worked through. JoeyB is so much better than he was. Now he doesn't jump on the dogs any more, on occasion he will go after one and I react immediately (he's a blue fawn and a tad bit slow when it comes to the learning curve), but if he can learn, I know Lena can.

 

If I can help in any other way, let me know.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Guest LindsaySF

For outside play with the other dogs, muzzle muzzle muzzle. See this thread: Let Me Show You Why They Give Us Those Muzzles

 

For visitors, I am assuming that she is reacting fearfully, not trying to engage them in play? Or is she play biting them too? I would separate her from visitors that won't be there long (like the A/C guy, people just popping by to pick up something, etc). It's really not worth the risk of a bite for someone that won't be staying and interacting with her on a regular basis. For visitors that will be there longer, I agree with Inugrey's advice to keep her blocked until she calms down, and then control the interaction and keep it positive (with dog on a leash).

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

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Guest SusanP

Just curious--what is her body language like when she nips people? Is her tail up, ears up, mouth open in excitement, or are her ears back, tail tucked, etc...? Maybe that can give you a clue. Her new behavior with people may be very different than her longer-term behavior with other dogs.

 

I have an excitement nipper. He mainly goes after me. :blush But his whole body looks excited and revved up when he's doing it.

 

Others are right; if you can block access to the entryway, you may not have to muzzle. Just don't let her near guests until you get her under control.

 

Wouldn't hurt to get her thyroid etc checked, anyway, since this is completely unprecedented behavior.

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Don't let her play bite anymore with anyone - not you, not another dog, not a visitor. She needs to understand that play biting is not a good thing.

 

Muzzle her in the yard. I have one who bites when she gets excited and she wears her muzzle when there's going to be play activity. If that means muzzleing all the dogs, then you should do so. Even a small skin tear can become really serious really fast. If she starts going after another dog (eve muzzled) give her a squirt. Don't yell or say a verbal cue. When she stops the biting behavior, call her to you and treat. Another method to try is to divert her attention from biting the other dog by giving her a toy or ball when she's excited. If she knows any obedience commands you can use those as well.

 

When you come in the door and she's excited, you can also use the squirt gun, but it's often as effective to simply turn your back on her until she calms down. If she starts up again when you turn around, repeat the turn-away-and-ignore procedure until she stays calm whenever you come home. The toy-diversion method and command method can be used in this situation too, and also when visiting people come over.

 

Block off the entrance when visitors come over. If you know them well, have them do the same turning-away procedure. If they are service people or just there for a minute you should isolate her away from them.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Can you keep her blocked from incoming guests until she has the chance for calm interaction? Is she food motivated?

 

Yes, we can! We keep all of the dogs blocked away from any guests that enter the home till they calm down then they are allowed to interact. We can try to do one on one with Lena.

 

She is not food motivated.

Suzie Collins

Owner/Artist Skinny Hound Designs

Greyhound decals, magnets and signs.

Fur kids: Isabelle and Petey

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Suzi, it sounds like she has some misplaced aggression brought on by excitement. JoeyB has this. He's not as bad now as he was when he first came home but we're going on two years now that I've been working with him. First, carry a squirt bottle on your hip, if Lena starts to go after you or one of the dogs, squirt her, this will get her attention, once you have her attention tell her "come or come here", if she complies treat her. If she doesn't go get her, bring her to you saying "come" and then treat her. The hardest part is getting their attention when they get excited. JoeyB was horrible. He would climb on the backs of the dogs when the door bell rang, Mike or Kevin would come home, or even the garage door going up would send him into a state of over excitement. With him, I would have to squirt and go get and bring him to me and hold him until the excitement was over, then tell him good boy and treat.

 

It's one of the hardest behaviors to deal with. If you're going to have company, I'd muzzle her while you train her as she's already bitten (nipped) 3 time. Watch and see what sets her off and duplicate the situation if you can with Brians help and work with her that way. It may take some time but I know it can be worked through. JoeyB is so much better than he was. Now he doesn't jump on the dogs any more, on occasion he will go after one and I react immediately (he's a blue fawn and a tad bit slow when it comes to the learning curve), but if he can learn, I know Lena can.

 

If I can help in any other way, let me know.

Judy, this totally sounds like Little Lena...any excitement and she goes after the other dogs, mostly Isabelle. Thankfully Isabelle is so laid back about it but one day she won't be and I am afraid that would be ugly.

 

Thank you so much for this greyt advice! Now that I am hobbling around on crutches, the training may not go so well as I can't go to her easily and I can't get her to come with me etc... but at least Brian can start working with her till I can walk again.

Suzie Collins

Owner/Artist Skinny Hound Designs

Greyhound decals, magnets and signs.

Fur kids: Isabelle and Petey

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For outside play with the other dogs, muzzle muzzle muzzle. See this thread: Let Me Show You Why They Give Us Those Muzzles

 

For visitors, I am assuming that she is reacting fearfully, not trying to engage them in play? Or is she play biting them too? I would separate her from visitors that won't be there long (like the A/C guy, people just popping by to pick up something, etc). It's really not worth the risk of a bite for someone that won't be staying and interacting with her on a regular basis. For visitors that will be there longer, I agree with Inugrey's advice to keep her blocked until she calms down, and then control the interaction and keep it positive (with dog on a leash).

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

She is reacting fearful, as it seams. She is so quick and sly about it that you don't see it coming.

 

The A/C guy had moved the gate and came into my office area to get me to sign some papers. I immediately grabbed Lena's collar and held onto her and she stood there with me but I released her collar to sign the papers and she circled around him and before I knew it she snapped at his calf. Thankfully, he works with an all breed rescue and was not angry about it but understanding. SO, my fault for not keeping her under control.

 

When she bit me, I was at my neighbor's house and when I came home and entered the fence the dogs all went crazy, as usual, like I was gone for several months or something. Little Lena barked at me and jumped up and bit my upper arm. I immediately yelled loudly "NO"

 

The third time, a guy came over to pick up a antique dresser I was selling. He came into the fence and the dogs were all in the house. We talked about how he did great dane rescue and he saw the dogs in the doorway and said it was ok to let them out...well, all of the others were ok, but I forgot about the last lena incident with a strange guy and before I knew it she nipped his calf. He said "ouch, that one bit me!" I knew immediately who he meant. I did not see lena do it but knew it was her. They were all just sniffing him when lena moved in for the kill.

Suzie Collins

Owner/Artist Skinny Hound Designs

Greyhound decals, magnets and signs.

Fur kids: Isabelle and Petey

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