Take a bite out of biting
November 4, 2011 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Our 11-month old Black Lab is very badly behaved. Please suggest ways that we can deal with out-of-control biting and other bad habits.

Here's a pic of the vicious offender, Riley.

We took her to two rounds of PetSmart training and she did very well there. She learned very quickly and knows Sit, Down, Stay, Leave It, and Go To Your Bed. BUT she only does these things if she feels like it and if there’s a treat involved.

Her problems are biting, jumping on people, jumping on the counters to steal food, and stealing anything not nailed down. We got her as a 6-week-old puppy (I know that’s too young) so it’s not as though she has a troubled history that would explain her problems.

She bites pretty viciously. She will come up behind you when you’re standing at the counter and bite a mouthful of butt. She “talks” to us by snapping her jaw in the air. When she’s in a “frenzy” it’s just flailing teeth all over the place, and it’s all you can do to race to find the bottle of water that we spray her with as a punishment.

She is a big dog—90 pounds. Often she will snap and try to bite just for trying to pat her. When we try to sit on the couch, she bites and jumps all over us, to the extent that we bribe her with bones to distract her long enough to watch a tv show. This isn’t innocent puppy mouthing—it can get aggressive. On the other hand it’s not “mean”… she jumps and bites when we walk in the door because she’s excited to see us. It’s like she doesn’t know how else to interact with us.

I know we have been pretty lax in her training, and some people in the family aggravate the problem by feeding her off the table, playing rough and talking baby talk to her. (Granted, some of these people are the ones who take her on long walks, resulting in several blissful hours of sleeping-puppy quietness on the weekends.)

We’ve tried the ignore technique. This is not feasible. She has drawn blood and torn clothing. You can’t just stand there or walk away and pretend nothing is happening. The spray bottle technique only works if you have a spray bottle in your hands at all times.

We would like to have a Christmas tree and have guests over for the holidays. What steps can we take to minimize the biting? It seems like she’s either biting us or sleeping— how can we get to a point where we can just enjoy the dog? Is there something like a “Couch to 5k” for rotten dogs (i.e. daily training exercises)? We are considering more obedience school, but this is more of a day-by-day, hour-by-hour problem that needs to be worked on in the home.
posted by jschu to Pets & Animals (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Problem: jumping on the counters to steal food
Cause: feeding her off the table

Problem: She bites pretty viciously
Cause: playing rough

If you want those problems to stop, the first thing you have to do is eliminate those causes. No way around it.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:05 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

Often she will snap and try to bite just for trying to pat her

To put a finer point on Rock Steady mentioning rough play, she may just see all hands as playthings.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

OK. Here is where it starts to get a little rough. First, your dog was probably not socialized very much as a puppy. Your reaction to being bitten should be to let loose a loud yelp then get away from her. A dog dislikes nothing more than being sent away, and this is exactly what would happen if she were to bite a litter-mate.
More tricks will probably help her gain a little confidence and give her a sense of purpose. You may have to argue with her about these things, but at some point, she'll get the idea that she has no choice. She might even come to enjoy the challenge. Retrievers are very smart, and hopefully she will get on the wagon with you.
Best of luck: owner of a former stray who is about the most stubborn dog I've ever met.
posted by Gilbert at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we try to sit on the couch, she bites and jumps all over us, to the extent that we bribe her with bones to distract her long enough to watch a tv show.

You are rewarding her for biting you. You realize that, right? She'll continue to bite you and be obnoxious so long as she knows that she'll get bones out of you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]

Cesar Milan. Youtube him, get one of his books, google search him.

Things that will help any dog become better behaved: a nice long daily walk or two (tire the dog out!), a set routine, rules and boundaries.

No more rough play. No more feeding off the table.

You need to be consistent in your behavior and he will follow. A house in chaos will breed chaos.

Again, read Cesar Milan.
posted by amazingstill at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

The Monks of New Skete have a book, How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend, that does a good job talking about how you need to communicate to the dog that there is a pack and that you are the alpha of the pack. Consistency, structure, and firm use of socializing techniques that the dog understands.

Good luck.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're able to access slice.ca video in the US, I highly recommend At the End of My Leash (click on "video" in the left hand bar) for videos on how to interact with and properly socialize your dog.
posted by foxjacket at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2011

More exercise, at least 2 hours a day. A tired dog is a good dog. It is shocking how much exercise high energy dogs require. Our 65lb Aussie required at least 3 hours of play and exercise a day at that age...I hopes yours requires less...same sentiments on the rest

No more feeding from the table, no more rough play, but still plenty of love.
posted by iamabot at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2011

Rules and boundaries. You let this dog on your couch (picture); you let people feed it from the table; you are unknowingly rewarding bad behaviour, as PhoB mentioned. On walks, is this dog dragging you along, or is he on heel all the time?

Milan, the Monks, and others are pretty consistent on the main lessons of being a calm, consistent leader to a dog. Milan especially pushes the walk -- long walks, not out to the corner to pee -- as being the best place to establish trust and order in the relationship.

Hiring on a one-on-one dog behaviourist (who will train you as much as your dog) may also be a wise idea.

Please solve this problem quickly, because a biting, unsocialized dog is completely unacceptable.
posted by bumpkin at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Reading material: Don't Shoot the Dog
posted by jon1270 at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ok, I don't "hate" Cesar like a lot of the dog training community does, but just be warned his techniques do not work for all dogs. Because he comes from a "punishment" based philosophy, if you don't know exactly what you're doing, you can really screw up your dog (or create habits that will take a long time to undo.)

I would, recommend, instead, a positive-approach type training first, and if that doesn't work, seek a behaviorist or try other techniques. I wouldn't go punishment (Cesar sometimes nearly 'chokes' dogs) unless you know what the hell you are doing, and by your post, you sound like you are a beginner.

Here is Ian Dunbar's guide to teaching Bite Inhibition. Your dog is no longer a puppy, but these techniques may still work with him. Remember it helps to teach your dog a replacement behavior instead of NOT doing something. Sit nicely is easier to learn than "don't bite me!"

You may also want to look into the world of clicker training, which can actually be quite fun.

Here are some tips and advice about counter surfing.

posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's not the dog, its you. If this dog was magically transported to my house all of these behaviors would stop in 3 days because thet are NOT tolerated. Make rules and enforce them with extreme prejudice on the dog and the people or give the dog away and get a pug or something lap-doggy and mellow.

There's no magic trick (or spray bottle). Although I have to say if my dog bit me in the ass I would not be reaching for a spray bottle of anything except Mace. That would be an instant ass-kicking, followed by several hours of being a Bad Dog In The Yard Alone, followed by a long training session on standing behind people and not biting them in the ass.
posted by fshgrl at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

Please note that the above sequence of events ends with an opportunity for the dog to be Good. Being good is not actually optional but you can pretend the dog has a choice to make everyone feel more upbeat.

Also note that in our house an "ass kicking" is generally verbal abuse but may be accompanied by dragging outside or, occasionally, a sharp smack. Or even the evil newspaper of doom.
posted by fshgrl at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2011

OK, your problem goes beyond the usual "we took him to obedience classes and everything!" complaint.

Your dog is constantly biting people. He's not mean or a bad dog, but he is badly socialized. Very badly. It's not his fault. The people who failed him in his upbringing since he was a pup, now need to step up and start doing what's right for him. Otherwise, he could get end up being put down for attacking someone.

There are dog trainers who specialize in aggressive or out-of-control dogs. If you've let your dog get to this level of ability, I just don't think reading a book is going to turn your home life around; you need an expert to drill you in all the changes you need to make, to make up for all the time you haven't been parenting your puppy effectively.

Please, he deserves it. One-size-fits-all Petsmart training isn't going to do it for you (I'm not convinced it does much for anyone, but that's another issue). Get a real expert to train you so you can train your dog to be a good member of your pack.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]

This is not a minor problem - but if you follow the advice you have been given, the problems can easily be fixed. Dogs like your dog show up in rescue all the time because people don't take the time to ask the questions you're asking. They get an education qnd go on to good homes. Your dog doesn't have to go through the rehoming stress so good on you.

Why don't you ask the Petsmart trainer if they teach any non-Petsmart classes in a larger setting (and less focused on rewards-based trick-type training and more on learning with lots of brain work. As far as I know, Petsmart and Petco classes are pretty basic. You need more.) If that trainer can't help with another class or referrals, maybe the lovely woman at Smartdogs weblog can skype you.

Given your description of the family-dog environment, I don't thinking reading and watching videos will work - you need help, not self-help.

Start looking for help today and the lab will likely be a solid citizen by Xmas!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2011

or, occasionally, a sharp smack. Or even the evil newspaper of doom.

fshgrl, what works for an occasionally-misbehaving dog can be a terrible idea for a dog that views biting as a way to get attention. It can easily escalate, and the dog always loses... as do the owners.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a dog that viewed biting as a way to get attention when I got her. Fixed now.
posted by fshgrl at 1:49 PM on November 4, 2011

I am going to suggest that you find a trainer who will train you - not the dog. I mean that in a nice way.

I adopted a Rottweiler from a humane society, and worked with a trainer who watched the two of us together. It turns out the dog had already had basic training (and some Schutzhund training, with the commands in German, and from someone who likely beat her by the way she cringed when she used them and then dumped her when she didn't turn out to be vicious enough). So we had to use a different form of address for the same commands, and then she had to tell me things like "YOU don't expect her to respond fast enough. YOU don't reward her for looking to you."

So, the thing about Petsmart classes is, they're like any class in any school. If you don't do your homework to reinforce it, it doesn't stick. So not only do you have to seek good advice, you have practice it, and to apply it every day, all the time - not just when you need her to do something for you. As you said, it's a day-by-day, hour-by-hour problem. Two months isn't a lot of time to train this out of a dog so that you can be secure around guests and relax and enjoy your party. It is enough time to get her comfortable by trying a little time at a daycare or boarding place; and it's enough time to work on crate training so she can be quiet in a back room during your party.
posted by peagood at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2011

Some suggestions, I'm not a Caesar Milan fan but part of me thinks that in this case some of his ideas might be right on. It sounds a bit like your dog isn't listening to you because at the moment it see's itself as your equal and you guys really need to be the bosses. I hate the term Alpha, but look at it this way children need to respect their parents, and at the moment your Dog thinks it's on equal footing with you and that is not a safe mind set for a 90lb dog that likes biting.

I think you are on the right track with the water bottle if your dog dislikes it but it's no good if you don't carry it with you everywhere, I find waterpistols easier to carry in a pocket and they have a nice stream of water for aiming. I have found this a very effective method of getting the attention of a completely untrained Rat Terrier that would get super focused on what ever bad behaviour it was doing and ignore me. Use it to get your dog focused on you and listening, then tell your dog to sit or down or whatever, then reward your dog when it does what you want. The water pistol isn't a punishment so much as a means to get attention so you can redirect the bad behaviour to what you want.

If your dog tries to bite your hands, yelp and turn your back to it and ignore it. Dogs hate being ignored. Don't use your hands to rough house or wrestle with the dog, there are lots of other games you can play.

If she is just mouthy and not biting to break the skin it is easier to work with than if she is getting very angry and nipping and biting. When you sit on the couch, she sits on the floor without bribery but because you say. The first few times you make her behave it will seem to take ages and you probably won't get much of your show watched but at the moment you are teaching the dog if she climbs all over you she gets a reward. After she is sitting on the ground quietly, then should be the time she gets the reward.

If you take nothing else from this extra long post I would seriously suggest weekly visits to a trainer, they can seem expensive but pay for one on one lessons they are well worth it and , it need not take that many lessons to see a difference and to teach you guys the skills you need to get your dog to behave. The whole family should go and you all need to follow the new "rules" with the dog.

To me it sounds like your dog was too young when you got it and not properly socialised and a lot of her behaviours stem from stuff that was cute when she was a puppy, play wrestling feeding from tables and the like, that are not so cute in a 90lb dog.
posted by wwax at 2:03 PM on November 4, 2011

Oh and when I say a trainer I sure don't mean a Petsmart trainer, they are fine for basic sit, stay and whatever but you have behavioural problems and need and expert. Ring your vet and ask them to recommend someone.
posted by wwax at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2011

This may seem elementary, but it wasn't for me when I was socializing and training my first dog as an adult.

Get consensus and be consistent on the specific words the whole family uses to train and reprimand the dog.

Some people say "Down!" when the dog jump up, some folks might say "Off!" Pick one, stick with it. Lather, rinse, & repeat for the entire vocabulary.
posted by bricksNmortar at 2:08 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreed, bricksNmortar. When my dog gets too friendly on the couch with someone, they often try "DOWN"... which he responds to by lying across their lap... which is obedient behavior, given what he was trained to do on "DOWN".
posted by IAmBroom at 2:15 PM on November 4, 2011

BTW, my problem with Petsmart training is nothing specific, everything general (and anecdotal). Most of the people I've met who compliment my dog's behavior say something akin to, "But we took ours to Petsmart classes, and a year later he's forgotten all of it!"


I've forgotten all of the 8nd week assignment of my Matrices Manipulation course, since I never used it again. Even if someone came into my house, and repeatedly commanded me to "invert a non-singular matrix representing the roots of this complex equation" in increasingly loud tones of voice, I'm not sure I would get it right.

4th week of French II, however? I use that a lot. Got that bugger down. Don't even need Mrs. Funston to yell "Ecoutez et repetez" at me anymore.

Anyway, I've never heard someone say, "Petsmart told us we'd need to keep these lessons up at home, on our own, with gradually decreasing frequency, but never quitting them altogether." Therefore, Petsmart failed to teach them.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2011

What IAmBroom said x100. My dog would still bite me for attention, despite knowing its Wrong, if I let her. She still does other bad stuff for attention like nose bumping people in the butt or grabbing my ankles as I walk by like a cat, because I let her (one is funny and one is cute). If I taught her that the only way to get attention was to stand on her head I bet she'd do that.
posted by fshgrl at 2:30 PM on November 4, 2011

Seconding peagood: during a proper dog training session, a good chunk of the training is training the owner. You and your dog are well past what the average big box petstore can offer. Get referrals for a trainer from your local humane society, lab rescue group and vet, you're looking for a trainer experienced with unlearning bad behavior with positive reinforcement.

Also, labs are water dogs: getting wet is not a punishment in their mind. More importantly, in the time it takes for you to find and deploy the sprayer the dog has no way of connecting "what I did 30 seconds ago" with "hey, I'm getting squirted." Any reaction you are getting right now is due to your tone of voice and body language and what she thinks you are punishing her for is whatever she was doing the second the yelling started.

The good news is she's a smart dog, she's certainly figured out how to train you to do what she wants. The key is for you to find a trainer that will explain what is going on (and this really requires the trainer to observe you with the dog) and for you and the rest of the family to consistently follow the trainer's lessons with every interaction you have with Riley.

Finally. I get the sense you're sort of reluctant to take her behavior as seriously as it really is. A dog that big that bites to get its way is serious, dead stop. Get this fixed ASAP and correctly.
posted by jamaro at 2:36 PM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Hi there, I have a dog that I got under similar circumstances.

Air snapping and biting - you want to stop this happening in a non-confrontational way, as confrontation is a kind of reward to dogs. It says "hey, this last event was a big deal." What you want instead is to distract and redirect the dog so that the event doesn't happen in the first place, or alternately, redirect them into something positive after the fact and reward that.

First step - get a basket muzzle for your dog. No more biting, no more will they bite confrontation. Yes, it makes your dog look like Hannibal Lecter, and yes, they will not enjoy wearing a muzzle, but you'll eliminate the cycle of "I'm excited. I bit! That was exciting!"

Get a muzzle that fits - have a trainer or behaviorist help you with this. And then do a ton of positive reinforcement with a special food and the muzzle for a while - a day to a week - before putting the muzzle on.

I used cheese whiz. I only use it with the muzzle; it's an Extra Special Good Thing for my dog. (Also, it doesn't require refrigeration). And the training went like this:

1. Call dog over. Sit (in a friendly but firm voice)
2. squirt cheeze whiz into basket muzzle
3. Tell dog OK (so they can come eat it out of the basket)
4. Repeat 2 - 3 many times.
5. Recharge muzzle with cheese
6. Slip muzzle on dog (be quick, don't make it a battle, have dog in sitting or lying down position so it's harder for them to duck)
7. Affix muzzle
8. Much positive verbal reward while sticking the cheeze whiz nozzle through the muzzle to give the dog a food reward.
9. Leave muzzle on, clip on leash, walk dog around house like it's completely normal. Let them get used to it for a bit.

Also, talk to a behavioralist about training strategies as well as the possibility of dog meds to get your pup through this early stage without becoming aggressive. Breaking this cycle involves lots of work: prevention, redirection, training, and with my dog, his behavior continued to get worse from this age on, even with training, prior to using a muzzle. Not every dog can improve, but you give yours the best odds they can get.
posted by zippy at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't feed her from the table, ever. If someone wants to give her a treat of any kind, she has to sit, or do some other task, and not a rowdy task.

For 1 week, walk, or, better, run the dog as many times and as long as possible every day. If Mr. jschu walks her for 45 minutes, you should take the dog right back out for another 45 minutes. If there's a dog park, take her there, and let her run and play and get tired, then take her for a walk. Seriously, training her will be easier if she's really tired, because some of her problem is that she's still puppyish, and has a lot of energy.

During this week, train her a lot on what you want her to do, more than what you don't want her to do. Come home from a walk, take her to her bed, and say, "Lie Down" and give her a treat as she collapses happily on her bed. You're catching her doing what you want, by making it likely that she'll do what you want. Ask a friend to visit, and have the dog on a leash. Hold her into a standing, not jumping, position as the friend enters the house, and you say "Settle" and give her a treat because she didn't jump. Sit in the couch with a piece of sponge, and act like it's food. Mr. jschu holds her at a sit, and say "Sit" and "Good sit" while she sits. The tiredness makes success possible.

If my dog bit me in the butt, I'd yelp to indicate surprise and pain, say "NO" and "BAD" and then he'd be immediately put in his crate, and ignored for 15 minutes. Repeat. I'd probably work on the worst of the annoyances 1st, starting with biting. Dogs are really social, so indicating serious displeasure, followed by removal from your presence is punishment. It's also the natural and logical consequence - you behaved badly, so you can't be with me. You can return when you behave. You can overdo this - so pick specific behaviors.

tl;dr make success more likely by tiring her. create successful scenarios and reward her for success. punish bad behaviors with exile and disapproval. tired dogs are better-behaved and easier to manage.

After a week, I think you'll be inspired to keep up the exercise, esp. while she's a pup, and you'll start enjoying her more. She'll sense the approval and want more.
posted by theora55 at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a 90 lb dog who would laugh at me if I spritzed him with a water bottle for misbehaving. Does that really work on dogs?
posted by thinkpiece at 4:41 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

The advice you got about finding and sticking with a trainer for several months is good.

While you're at home waiting for the first session with your new trainer, your dog should be on a 6 food leash that is clipped to your belt. She must *EARN* every single pet, play, bite of food, snuggle and walk. She earns these through listening to commands even when a treat is not involved. Ignore her when she does not respond. The trainer will examine your technique and interaction with her and recommend a suitable correction.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:27 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lots of good advice about training above. I noticed you didn't really discuss her activity level other than the fact that she occasionally gets some exercise with other members of the family. My experience has been than exercise is essential in training. It goes beyond the oft-quoted "a tired dog is a well behaved dog" - exercise helps our dog blow off energy and become more focused and receptive to training. Perhaps you're not meeting the physical needs of your dog, and could seek out more opportunities for her to run, play, and tire herself out. This isn't just a means of getting her to sleep it off for a few quiet hours; it's a component of your training and important time for you and your dog enjoy together.
posted by itstheclamsname at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2011

Her problems are biting, jumping on people, jumping on the counters to steal food, and stealing anything not nailed down.

She bites pretty viciously. She will come up behind you when you’re standing at the counter and bite a mouthful of butt. She “talks” to us by snapping her jaw in the air. When she’s in a “frenzy” it’s just flailing teeth all over the place, and it’s all you can do to race to find the bottle of water that we spray her with as a punishment.

OK, only one of these problems is really serious and that's the biting. That is extremely serious and you need to take it seriously. The others are annoying but they're not a huge issue. Most dogs will jump up on people at greeting. There are a gazillion different ways to solve it, a lot of which can be found right here in Askme. The main thing with that one is making sure nobody thinks it's cute - if you have even one friend who encourages it, you might as well lay down and give up; it's all over. If not, though, then I have always found the knee in the chest (as the dog jumps, pull your knee up towards your chest - it blocks the dog and knocks it back but doesn't hurt it, say no, keep doing it) works best. Well, that and encouraging good greeting behavior. Taking food off the counters? Yeah, that's tough with a big dog. Keep the food away from the edge of the counter and watch the dog like a hawk when there's a lot of food out. The main thing with these problems is consistency. You have to yell at her every time she tries to get food off the counters. You have to reward her every time she doesn't jump up on people. You have to take away the stuff she's stealing - I assume you mean like shoes? - teach her to drop it and reward her for dropping it when she is told to do so and you have to do this every single time she takes something you don't want her to have. The day you're tired and say, oh hell, that's an old shoe, she can have it, is the day you've agreed to let her have any shoe she wants. Again, it's all about consistency.

There's a lot of good advice above and I agree that you probably need a trainer soonest, however, in the meantime, you need to make sure that the biting stops right away. Do not tolerate it any more. I'm with fshgrl, above - this wouldn't be allowed in my house. The spray bottle isn't working and I'm not surprised - that might work on cats, but I can't imagine that it would work worth a damn with a large dog. I think you need a combination here of loud noise and immediate physical restraint. My mother used to keep a length of chain in a coffee can and shake it at the dog when he was bad; I clap my hands and shout at the top of my lungs (usually something poetic and to the point, like: jesus fucking christ you goddamn dog, I'm going to shoot you this time, I mean it) for really unacceptable behavior and it works. If my dog bit me in the ass I would shout, spin around, grab her by the scruff of her neck and march her out into the yard, where she would stay alone for some time. There would be kind of a lot of shouting, actually and there would probably also be a really firm swat on her ass. Lather, rinse, repeat but the main thing is that it is not tolerated, not once, not ever and not by anyone.

This frenzy stuff you are describing is a real problem and it scares me. I have three medium to large dogs. If my dogs get overexcited inside, which happens, since they can look out the window and see such evils as squirrels and mutant mailmen from outer space and that terrible thing, Other Dogs Being Walked, they calm down when I tell them to. Even at their bounciest, there are no "flailing teeth all over the place" even from Perdita, who used to get a little mouthy as a pup. Again, don't let it happen, ever. If it does, grab, restrain, remove but in the meantime, you need to figure out what is triggering this frenzy thing and take steps to stop it before it begins. If it's the rough play you talk about earlier (and I don't believe in rough play myself at all, particularly with a large dog, because then you have a dog who thinks that all humans enjoy it and then you have a disaster waiting to happen with a neighbor or child) then that needs to stop right now. Whatever is triggering these frenzies has to end because honestly, as you know, a 90 lb dog in teeth flailing frenzy is not okay on any level, anywhere, at any time.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:05 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

But! I also want to add something. Your dog is still a puppy. She's actually heading into adolescence but at 11 months really, honestly, she's just a little kid and all these problems are going to be a whole lot easier to solve now than they will be in a year or two. She's still changing and growing and becoming an adult, so remember that when she seems impossible. Adolescence - in dogs as in humans - is not always the most lovable time in anyone's life. It's a time for testing boundaries, which she's clearly doing, but it's also a great time for learning new things. She will drive you crazy here and there for the next year and the chew stuff up phase will reach a crescendo (I don't know what that's about, more teeth coming in?) at 18 months and then begin to subside, so you want to make sure you have a lot of acceptable stuff to chew around for her. Kongs and those huge mongo bones they have at the supermarket are good for the chew urge. Anyway, a lot of the wild and crazies will start to calm down around 18 months to 2 years and if you've been consistent and loving and kind, you'll have an awesome grown up dog come through the other side.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2011

I think everyone has given you great advice on the discipline. Regarding Xmas--I would say if the biting isn't under control by then, you need to isolate the dog while you have guests. (Or if she's improved but it still nippy, isolate her as soon as she gets overexcited.) Put her in a comfy, secure room, and visit her often, but don't let her out. Particularly as a non-dog-person, it's really, really hard to have to deal with an aggressive dog that's freely wandering around the party, and it's the kind of thing that makes me leave early, or just not go at all. A 90-pound dog can really hurt someone, so please be responsible.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:51 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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