Leash-crazy dog
May 6, 2010 9:08 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my 5 month old puppy dog to stop biting her leash?

My pup is very well-behaved, and walks with her tend to be fine, but something in her brain associates running with having the leash in her mouth. The second we pick up the pace, she goes straight for it. I don't know how to discourage it. I've rubbed hot sauce on the leash but that only works for a day or so. She's excellent with clicker training, but I can't figure out how that would be useful in this situation, since I'm trying to stop a behavior. Any ideas?
posted by malhouse to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
switch to a harness where the leash attaches to her back instead of by her mouth. Eventually she'll forget about the leash...

or switch to a leash that is a chain instead of fabric or leather...

or... use bitter apple spray on the leash...might work better than hot sauce

this sounds like a transient puppy behavior... she'll get over it... the difference between a 5 month old puppy and a year and 5 month old dog is amazing... I was ready to send the husky to puppy foster home for a while... things get much better!
posted by HuronBob at 9:17 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really think a five month old should have the basics of heeling down. And a dog that has that training is just a lot more fun (they don't mind - really - it's a game!)

Use a choke collar, not a harness or one of those things with the spikes, but learn how to use it. It is badly misnamed, it should never be used to choke a dog! (Some trainers do with aggressive dogs, but even then only briefly.) Just give short jerks, very quick yanks around the neck -- this is like wearing a collar and tie, a flat collar jerked is like a karate chop. Then the collar always goes up from her neck, loosely, yes, but not hanging down in front of her nose.

Then start with small steps, anytime she turns her head to grab the leash, change directions quickly. And congratulate her when she follows (she will). When she trust you not to suddenly pull something hard and stiff into her trachea, she will stop having to control the leash.
posted by Some1 at 9:37 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

She only does it when you're running? Is it really a problem? One of my dogs likes to do this and I just let him. He drops it as soon as we go back to walking. I think it's cute and it certainly doesn't interfere with anything. The other one did it as a puppy but grew out of it on her own. If you're really in a hurry to get rid of the behavior, like if she's trying to play tug with it, then HuronBob has good suggestions.
posted by HotToddy at 9:49 PM on May 6, 2010

Teach the command "release" When she grabs the leash, just stop running/walking, tell her to release and as soon as she lets go, start running again. The first day you may not get very far in your walk but she should catch on fast.
posted by metahawk at 10:06 PM on May 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Soak the leash overnight in your sink in a weak vinegar solution. This nipped it in the bud with my pup.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:13 PM on May 6, 2010

Thanks -- all good suggestions. HotToddy, the reason it's a concern is that one of the leashes is a cotton training lead and if she chews it up too much it could easily break.

Some1, she's excellent at heeling. The leash-biting starts when I free her to run alongside me. A switch goes on in her mind and suddenly she needs to have that leash in her mouth.
posted by malhouse at 10:22 PM on May 6, 2010

My dog did this, too. She'd only really bite at the leash if I tried to run along with her next to me. I figured that the problem was that she was looking at me the entire time we were running, probably trying to get in front of me and trip me up. Essentially she hadn't learned how to run next to me without trying to play. That might not be what you're dog is doing, but we got her over it by luring her attention ahead of her and away from me. I held a treat in front of her head while jogging and gave her frequent treats when she didn't cross in front of me or nip at the leash. Seems simple, and it only took a half dozen tries. Lures and positive reinforcement are powerful things.
posted by pkingdesign at 10:32 PM on May 6, 2010

My 9-month old puppy does this every now and then. He wants to play with me like he does with other dogs. I have a few things that stop the behavior. 1) Say a firm "no" and then walk forward confidently and with purpose. Often, he forgets what he was doing after 10 feet and falls in next to me. 2) switch to a chain. 3) give a command like "drop it" and then give him a treat when he releases the leash. Treat a few more times during the walk for good behavior (not tugging, paying attention to you while walking, stopping when you stop).

The last part of (3) is something that you can work into every walk. Have a pocket full of treats, and make it a practice to reward good behavior. Your dog will get the idea that walks can me more fun if they go along with it.
posted by zippy at 10:34 PM on May 6, 2010

+1 on the "drop it" command and a firm "no", too. Forgot that.
posted by pkingdesign at 11:28 PM on May 6, 2010

Give her something else to carry, and interrupt ("AH AH") then redirect, redirect, redirect her to it.

Don't start punishing this, just train her what TO do instead. At her age she is likely teething and needs something to do with her mouth.
posted by biscotti at 4:18 AM on May 7, 2010

Buy Bitter Apple and spray the whole leash with it. It makes the thing taste bad.
posted by AuntieRuth at 4:46 AM on May 7, 2010

Nevermind...somebody already suggested bitter apple...sorry
posted by AuntieRuth at 4:49 AM on May 7, 2010

Start the run at a slow jog while she's still in heel mode to see if that triggers the behavior. If not, then that's something to start training on. If so, jog until she starts mouthing at the leash, then immediately stop jogging. She might start to get the idea that grabbing the leash is a bad idea after a while.
posted by _cave at 5:59 AM on May 7, 2010

Carry a small squirt gun with water in it. When she grabs the leash, squirt her in the face and say no. She will associate the unpleasant experience with the command and will stop doing it. This works for other things like barking or jumping up.
posted by Old Geezer at 6:29 AM on May 7, 2010

Slight tangent here, but during our dog's puppyhood, we were told repeatedly by vets and trainers not to take her running until she was a year old, to prevent joint damage.

We did that, and after she reached Running Age, it took her a few months to get her running etiquette down. She's great now.
posted by COBRA! at 7:45 AM on May 7, 2010

I once saw someone who had slipped a length (maybe a foot or so) of thin-ish pvc (1" diameter or so) pipe over the leash to prevent this. It made it so there wasn't enough slack at the bottom for the puppy to grab it, plus trying to chew a pvc pipe wasn't so much fun... I think they had tied a knot in the leash right above and below the pipe section to keep it in place.
posted by BlooPen at 8:35 AM on May 7, 2010

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